Healthy vs. Unhealthy Jealousy in Relationships
Which of us did not feel jealous? As a rule, jealousy is the painful feeling that we experience when someone else pays attention to a person we love. The element of struggle distinguishes jealousy from fear of loss, while a sense of attachment to the object of jealousy distinguishes jealousy from envy.
What is wrong with wanting to keep our beloved close? Do we believe people who assure us that they are never jealous? Some philosophers share their views in defense of jealousy, suggesting that it is an integral part of the gaming relationship, an erotic catalyst: expresses concern, prevents indifference and motivates to think. Other specialists, like psychologists, say healthy jealousy does not exist. Let’s take a closer look.
Are Relationships Possible Without Jealousy?
Although episodic jealousy may have some advantages, it should not become a character trait. Flashes of intense jealousy can generate feelings of anger and guilt, paralyze the mind and make you feel like a jerk. Is jealousy a sign of love? It must be handled carefully: jealousy can hardly be called a universal aphrodisiac. There is reason to believe that jealousy is closely related to aggression and manipulation, so any possible benefits of jealousy must be weighed against the risks involved. In close relationships, it is necessary to reduce damage and do not forget about romantic gestures since intimacy can give rise to cruelty.
Some say that jealousy is useful as a sign of concern, as we try to understand and communicate our emotions in close relationships. Romantic stereotypes extol the unspoken and hidden, while self-digging and emotionality do not correspond to stereotypes about masculinity. For this reason, men believe that jealousy is normal, and they are in full right to protect their second halves from the tempting gazes of others. But if we consciously struggle with these stereotypes, we will notice that there is a milder way to express love: to talk about it.
Similarly to the feeling of instability and lack of balance that women feel when their partners spend time with single girls, men feel uncomfortable when their woman is an object of someone’s attention. In fact, worrying about these situations only shows distrust to the partner and is in no way a sign of affection. So, is jealousy normal? Yes. Can relationships exist without it? Of course, because having a feeling and showing it are different things. You can and may feel jealous, but you should control your emotions. Never impose your expectations on someone else and tell them how to behave.
What Causes Jealousy in Romantic Relationships
The main reasons are low self-esteem and dependence on a partner. If a person is used to comparing themself with someone, then suspecting a partner is completely natural for them. When a person evaluates everyone, compares other people with themself, and notices that the advantage is not on their side, then it seems to them that they are not worthy of being loved. This is again a projection: this person thinks that they are imperfect, so their partner thinks the same and will leave sooner or later. Now that we know the answer to the question, "What is jealousy in a relationship?" let’s consider its roots.
Fear of loneliness
People are very jealous because they don't want to be lonely. Their fear of being alone is projected onto partners and makes them suspect everything. They think that their partner lives a colorful and interesting life when not with them, so one day they will leave, and they will suffer from loneliness. Since the person does not imagine life without relationships, they may stick to them as hard as they can and do everything to obtain full control of the partner.
Sometimes it happens that a person has a sexual addiction. In fact, this rarely happens at the physiological level, mostly psychological. But, nevertheless, such dependence can be very strong. For example, a man feels especially good with a specific woman for some reason, so she becomes extremely important for him, and he is afraid to lose her. Because he treats her more like a sexual object, he considers she has the same opinion about other men, and when he sees a competitor, the fear of being abandoned arises.
Pathological dependence may be of a different nature, in some nationalities, for example, if a woman has cheated, you are no longer a man, that is, self-esteem depends on the behavior of the partner. So, what is jealousy a sign of? In some cases, it can be a pattern dictated by society and not so the inner torments of a man. In fact, he doesn’t even know what jealousy is or its signs, but the desire to control the woman is a part of his entity.
The demand for unconditional love
There are still people who expect unconditional love from a partner, which they received in childhood from their parents. They could be ignored or too strictly evaluated, and now they have high expectations for a partner and, at the same time, ready-made scenarios of ignoring and rejecting. They literally seek out jealousy in their partner’s behavior and constantly manipulate to get more attention. And when they did not get it, then no one should get it. Perhaps you know one of the most famous Shakespeare jealous relationship quotes, “Have you said your prayers tonight, Desdemona?”
Signs of Unhealthy Jealousy in a Relationship
Jealousy is an integral part of the life of many couples. It exists objectively and is surrounded by a halo of simultaneously unworthiness and honor. On the one hand, there is an opinion that it is a sign of self-esteem. On the other hand, jealousy may manifest true love. Many people use this criterion to understand whether the chosen one cherishes them or not. There are people who specifically provoke the jealousy of their partner to increase their importance in their eyes. And this, of course, is not good, and these are signs of unhealthy jealousy.
Excess control over partner and people next to them
You can notice or the partner can say that they are browsing your phone, your contacts, pages on the Internet, or looking through your things. Sometimes this is manifested not only in investigating your pockets but also in smelling you to detect the alien perfume, the search for traces or hairs on clothes, etc. People near you should be checked and approved by the partner, and they should be recognized by them as trustworthy. Is jealousy healthy in a relationship in this case? Of course, not.
In fact, for each couple, the question of communication with people outside the couple is relevant and important. Often friends are a stumbling block in a relationship. However, in a situation with dangerous jealousy, the difference is that the toxic partner dictates you who to spend time with and narrows the circle of your friends since a small number of people are easier to control. Everyone with whom you communicate must be verified and approved. If someone is not suitable for the partner, you should immediately break off all communication with them.
Taking control of your movement
Control of movement is manifested in the fact that your partner constantly requires a report on where you are and what you are doing. The partner requires you to speak the entire travel route: when you leave the house, when you get to the subway or get into transport, when you go to the store or get out, etc. The number of calls or texts required of you can be very large. And you must always be in touch. In some really absurd cases, the manipulator will ask for photo proofs that you are for real with your friends. You should take a photo or record a video so that they believe you.
An inadequate reaction to events, actions
This is manifested in, for example, that if your phone is disconnected, you are not available, it can be regarded as sabotage, serious misconduct, betrayal or disrespect for a jealous person. In the same way, your communication with a person who does not like a jealous partner, or just any conversation with a representative of the opposite sex, can be shit down. Toxic partners do not understand humor and flirtation, and always interpret everything in favor of your dishonesty. If you are trying to prove your innocence to them in response to the accusations, they will say that the innocent doesn’t make excuses, and if you apologize, they will say that this is a sign you feel guilty. If you refuse to explain your behavior, they will say that you have something to hide. A vicious circle of unhealthy signs of jealousy.
Statement of unusual requirements
A jealous person may demand you to sharply refuse to communicate with a person to prove a lack of sympathy for them. Or tell you that next time someone flirts with you, you should go away from this person and let your partner know who they were. In order for you to break off relations with a person who does not suit your toxic partner, they may require you to change the SIM card on the phone, insult this person, etc. The jealous person often also takes part in breaking your relationship with someone - relatives or friends. They can provoke a scandal, create a conflict, and point out the door to other people, “protecting” you or your relationship. Such signs of jealousy in a relationship are not normal.
The demand for love, fidelity, guarantees, and obligations
A jealous partner all the time requires you to take vows of love and fidelity, show evidence of love for them and give guarantees. And in this, they do not tolerate banal phrases or deeds, their imagination is rich and creative. Their distrust of you is chronic, and it is impossible to earn or win their trust, including with any of your vows. Demanding guarantees, the jealous at the same time believes that any obligation or oath can be violated, and any guarantee can be circumvented. Regular oaths, in this case, do not turn into a love ritual but into another form of control.
The manifestation of uncontrolled attacks of rage, mood swings
The jealous is prone to sharp and vivid breakdowns of anger. Anger can be affective, uncontrollable and accompanied by violence, physical and/or emotional (insult, humiliation, screaming, beating dishes, etc) manipulations. Sometimes a jealous person falls from one extreme to another: they go from anger and humiliating to begging for love and forgiveness of their furious behavior, to requests neither to hurt them with your behavior nor to abandon them.
Revealing and punishing
When the person is a pathological jealous, their system of moral values tells them that when you give them reasons for suspecting you, when you violate hic commands and misbehave, this is an act of disrespect or even a moral crime. And crimes and misbehavior must be punished. In this regard, a jealous person constantly reveals your guilt, teaches you lessons, you constantly feel as if you are at the court trial. They may refuse to talk or give your money, especially if you are financially dependent on them because this is their way to punish you.
This clearly shows a higher position of the jealous towards you, and, accordingly, yours is lower. A characteristic feature in relationships with a dangerous jealous is a woman's feeling of being a "little girl" and constantly guilty, forced to ask for forgiveness, and work on herself for the sake of a relationship. The same applies to a man who feels as if he is a bad boy whose mother gets constantly disappointed in him, and he must apologize. Is jealousy healthy in such a relationship? No, and it only leads to suffering and pathological feeling of guilt.
How to Understand That This Jealousy Is Healthy
The feeling that appears when the object of your adoration gives someone more attention than you is usually called jealousy. It sounds pretty normal. Regarding the issue, “Is jealousy healthy in a relationship?” we have talked about the negative side of it. But you will be surprised to hear that this feeling can be healthy and pretty motivating. That's just another type of it, and we will now explain to you the difference.
Your partner attracts others, but you know they love only you
A loving person understands that the object of their affection is a unique and amazing person. Communication with them brings joy. It seems that everyone around is also in solidarity with this opinion, which means they are eager to win the attention of the person of interest. The desire to retain the attention of a loved one, to protect them from the encroachment of other applicants and the opportunity to fight for their tender feelings due to the actions of other people often manifests itself as jealousy.
You want to be better so that your partner doesn’t doubt their choice
Healthy jealousy encourages a person to self-development because you want the other person to seek meetings and treasure joint leisure with you. And to do this, you should be an interesting human being. This way of building relationships requires constant efforts. Thus, you will have to work on yourself, improve not only in everyday life but also in society, have hobbies and diverse interests, monitor your appearance. You know that there are other people who would dream to be in your place, so you truly appreciate that your partner has chosen you and want to become a better version of yourself.
Healthy jealousy adds spiciness
Awareness of each other’s value maintains the relationship in good shape - does not allow the couple to slide into dullness and routine, in boredom. Sincere interest in the affairs of a loved one, support, and mutual assistance, sharing responsibilities, cares, and hardships of life, enriches interpersonal communication through the development of self and creates harmony. Life, filled with new emotions and impressions, turns jealousy from the main dish into a piquant seasoning that makes coexistence brighter and more interesting. Often friends give such advice to attract the attention of a lover: start flirting with someone else, let them be jealous. But there should be a middle-round, provocations, and manipulations rarely achieve their goals, and there are many cases when even the most loving people parted due to the loss of trust in each other.
Reasonable jealousy is healthy
If the partner’s behavior suddenly changed dramatically, and they began to avoid or neglect communication with you, if you witnessed their open flirtation with your own eyes or you have read the pretty intimate correspondence of the partner with some other person - you can consider jealousy reasonable. To establish a relationship, it is enough to discuss the situation, determine priorities and set boundaries. For example, “I felt lonely, confused and angry when I discovered your signs of attention towards another person. I ask you from now on to have a conversation with strangers only in my presence.” In this case, you have a full right to demand this.
Healthy jealousy is aimed at the problem, not the person
Do not justify jealousy with excessive love. Yes, if a person loves, it is unpleasant for them to “share” their soul mate with someone else, and they are worried about the situation. However, there are differences between healthy jealousy and obsessive, baseless suspicions. Love is a constructive feeling, while jealousy is destructive. If a person is very jealous, then they manifest their personal complexes, fears, and doubts in this way. And the point here is not at all a partner who really can be guilty of nothing. The healthy jealousy helps people limit their boundaries and tell the partner what is intolerable for them.
What to Do With Toxic Jealousy of Your Partner?
The most important thing is to start work right away before jealousy turns into paranoia. The sooner you stop the jealous, the better. This cannot be done with the help of information - no matter how much you make excuses, forgiveness will be temporary. The more information you give, the more they want it. It is necessary to stop jealousy in the bud, raising the question of trust and the advisability of continuing relations.
If you do it right away, in most cases, you will succeed, and it will stop. The main thing is to do this fairly firmly and be prepared to confirm the decision in the future. Because if you agree once, it doesn’t mean that the person stops right there since they have already had their habits, and it will not be easy to break them and stop controlling you. But if you keep track of all attempts to return to this rut, then the relationship has a chance to exist. But if you notice that the partner’s desire is not to change the situation, but they are simply used to manipulating, just leave and do not waste your time.