Jealousy– 1. a feeling of unhappiness and anger caused by a belief that a loved one might be unfaithful. 2. a feeling of unhappiness caused by wanting what someone else has.
The definition of jealousy sounds pretty simple right? We have all felt this feeling at some point in our lives, but when it comes to dealing with the fallout of jealousy in relationships it can be devastating. For many couples, to deal with jealousy is the biggest obstacle they face and be the source of discontent and anchor a resentment that lingers.
The thing with jealousy in relationships is that it is not as simple as a partner being distracted by another potential lover. There are many distractors such as family, work, friends, and we might go as far as to say there is jealousy of a partner themselves. You might be scratching your head and asking yourself, how can someone be jealous of their own partner? Well, this can happen when a partner is jealous of the other’s success at work/school, happiness or satisfaction when it comes to other relationships outside of their own, or simply their partner’s confidence.
It is theorized that jealousy is not an innate part of oneself and that it is in fact a social construct that has been used to justify one acting in manner that is not rational, responsible, or ethical as a human being. The fact is that we can either use our jealousy as a mask for what we are not confronting, or we can use it to help us identify our wide range of emotions and express our fears.
So how do we identify those feelings? Jealousy may present itself as fear or rejection or abandonment, insecurity, feeling inadequate or left out. It can also be based on our feelings of territoriality, striving to stand out to others through competitiveness, or maybe as blind rage in some cases. One of the fundamental challenges when faced with confronting your jealousy is getting to the root of where is stems from. For many, that starts with the lack of self esteem and confidence.
Take a moment and think about a person you know that is confident and presents as a strong, capable, and unshakeable person. Do you think they have ever dealt with a lack of self-confidence, fear of inadequacy, or felt they were not enough? The answer is yes! At some point in their life, they began a journey of self-discovery that was based in their need for self-exploration and growth. Maybe it was to build their self esteem and never be the person chosen last at kickball, to show off to their improved physique to the person who chose another rather than them, or to not be passed over for that promotion again. Whatever the reason is, we are all led to a journey of discovery through our jealousy, but it is identifying the emotions behind the jealousy that we find our truth.
In a relationship, insecurity may look like a one-sided expression of emotion when in truth it encompasses everyone involved. It may present along the lines of, a partner feeling unlovable or that something is wrong with them. It may be experiencing nagging doubt in your partner’s affections for you, body image or even performance. It may present as constant terror of abandonment or anger when a partner’s attentions are divided. Whatever jealousy looks like to you, it starts with recognizing what you are feeling and why those feelings are being triggered.
So the next time you feel jealous of a partner, friend, coworker, etc., ask yourself why? Start by identifying the emotions you are experiencing, check in with yourself or maybe a trusted source of support. Jealousy does not have to be something that causes strife or discontent in your life or that of your relationships. If you are struggling to process your emotions or can’t seem to put a finger on the emotion behind your jealousy, check in with a professional and process together