It’s just not where my head goes. Or my emotions.

It’s not my style to dwell in a place of comparisons and doubt. To journey to the domain of jealousy where so many men and women flagellate themselves in crises of self-esteem, in insecurity, in lost trust and a trail of inane actions that lead to acting out and then, sometimes, feeling foolish.

Are you the jealous type?

Are you jealous only if your romantic partner gives you reason to be?

Fight or Flight: Reacting to Jealousy

If someone attempts to position another potential suitor at the ready hoping to get a rise out of me, it’s going to backfire.

If anything, keeping company with a jealous man, or one who tries to make me jealous will send me screaming into the night. Well, withdrawing quietly, anyway.

I will not fight. Instead, I will express the belief that adults will do what they want when they want more often than not – and nothing I can do or say will change that.

Efforts to make me jealous?

I take them as signs. Perhaps my concupiscent cohort in crime is crying out for more (or different) attention. Perhaps he is emotionally needy in a way that I am not, and a way I am not prepared to deal with. defines jealousy as:

mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims

Given Weinergate (and ArnoldStrasse?), I suppose that if I have suspicions that a lover or spouse is being unfaithful, that would certainly incite “mental uneasiness” and even fear. Fear, if my family life is built around belief in the other person. Even more so, if my finances are tied up in that union.

Yet I do not live in expectation of being deceived, or in fear of it. I return to the premise that men and women will do what they want in sexual matters, sometimes exercising good judgment, and at others, quite the opposite.

Catnip and Comparisons: Using Jealousy to Arouse

For some, the thought of a rival is like catnip; recently a friend disclosed that now that he’s happily involved with a woman, an old girlfriend popped up – wanting to get back together. She explicitly referenced his new paramour, clearly part of the jealousy jukebox pushing her buttons.

I thought of the film I saw earlier in the week, and wondered about the psychology (and dynamics) of wanting what we cannot have. The fact that some value an object – or a person – only when they perceive that others consider it worth possessing.

Ah, the concept of possession. You can “own” an object, but can you ever own the object of your affections? Would you really want to?

Not only am I not jealous by nature, I am not possessive. When I love, I do so ardently, but not possessively. And jealousy, to me, is all about possessiveness.

Gullible’s Travels

I admit, I’ve been stung by my lack of jealousy (or “a man will do what he wants to do” attitude); in my marriage, my spouse traveled a great deal. I have no idea what he did and with whom. I have my suspicions, but it’s immaterial. Mostly, I resented the amount of time he was away leaving me to handle far too much, but that’s a very different state of affairs.

Realistically, I had no control over who he saw or what he did, so how could my doubting that he was working make any possible difference? He also had many women friends, and I wasn’t jealous. It never even occurred to me to be concerned. I still don’t know what he did – or didn’t do. I never will.

During the marriage, I never suspected anything. Call me crazy. Call me gullible. Better yet, call me Tired. I was the textbook case of the “married single mom” before I officially shed the Missus before my name.

Of course, I won’t say that I’m not hurt by the inevitable comparisons that can arise in any relationship. When you’re dumped, when you’re not loved, when sexual intimacy is breached by knowledge of another woman (or man), it’s painful. Trust is broken. Bridges require reconstruction.

Envy By Any Other Name provides another definition of jealousy:

resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself.

To me, this variation is more familiar. It is recognition of competition (or its potential) in both professional and personal domains, but it has nothing specific to do with the arena of love, lust, or marriage. It is envy.

I envied the insouciance of my traveling spouse for his apparent lack of guilt at being absent from so much of the marriage. Yet that doesn’t mean I aspired to living that way, myself. And I am far more likely to envy the accomplishments of others rather than romantic rivals, and yes, to be jealous – particularly if they are achievements that I value.

So what about you?

  • Are you the jealous type? Envious? Resentful?
  • Can jealousy help a marriage?
  • Is jealousy a relationship killer?


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  1. says

    Like you, I believe that people will do what people will do. There is little that I can do or would wish to do to change that. I would much prefer they be who they are and do as they desire than for them to change and be resentful of me as the cause or catalyst for said change.

    I too would be resentful if I felt that I was being hindered from living as I wished to do.

    Of course, I am older now and a little wiser in the ways of the world and of those around me. I understand that we are animals controlled, in large part, by a very tiny portion of the medula oblongata that is in charge of our most basic instincts.
    It’s nice to think that we would at all times behave in a mature and civil manner to one another. It’s just not all that realistic.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      I agree, Jack. Being more accepting of certain realities (and less Puritanical) would certainly help, too, wouldn’t it?

  2. says

    I once read somewhere (a cheesy women’s mag, I believe) that the people who are most jealous are those who could most easily imagine themselves cheating on their partner/spouse. Take that with a grain of salt but it struck me as having an element of truth in it…

    Delia Lloyd

  3. says

    If I am in a relationship, I am trusting the person 100%, the moment that I feel he is disloyal, I can’t see continuing the relationship. That goes for friendship as well. Instincts are usually never wrong… usually.

    As far as enying others, I really haven’t seen anyone that has something I want, I think it’s because I am satisfied with the people in my life and what I have in my life. Now, in the past, I have to admit, years ago after hearing my son had Autism, I did envy people who did not have to go through what we had to go through. But that was a temporary feeling and after getting to a place of acceptance, things got better.

  4. says

    Never been the jealous type. I actually dated a few men who found this quality unnerving, if not outright distasteful. WHY would you want a jealous girlfriend? I didn’t get it. But, like you, I’ve also been burned by my gullibility.

  5. says

    “And jealousy, to me, is all about possessiveness.” (Envy is a quite different word, as you appear to indicate.)

    AGREE, as follows: “If you love someone, set them free. If they return, they are part of you; if not, they never were in the first place.” As I said to Fran at our wedding, “My love is intended not to encumber your freedom, but to support you along your life path, so that you may live fully and authentically.”

    “… I believe that people will do what people will do. There is little that I can do or would wish to do to change that – Yet I do not live in expectation of being deceived “

    DISAGREE….with the helpless/passive/wimpy attitude expressed here. Find out what’s up – what the issues are. Be alert if this means there are problems, and if so, consider how they might best be dealt with. In my experience, people show a great deal of denial and don’t speak frankly about certain issues. If by frank discussion you discover that things are unworkable, you part. There may be great disappointment, but not deception.

    Once had a relationship with a lady who said “– As long as you give me the time I need, I will never inquire of your other time. If I am happy and never know of anyone else, I have no reason to be upset – what more can I justly ask?” That said, she saw no reason for the talk approach mentioned above. A special friend, but hardly marriageable according to my needs. (p.s. She gave the exact same speech to her husband, and worked hard to make him happy. She gave him everything he wanted, except love.)

    • BigLittleWolf says

      I didn’t get the impression that the reader who said “I do not live in expectation of being deceived” intended to imply a lack of attentiveness to the other, or a lack of ongoing communication. So, I wouldn’t characterize that attitude as passive or wimpy. It may be naive (for some of us), but that depends on the two people involved. Naive for some of us, and not, for others.

      Then again, my life experience is such that I have a broader range of “accepted as human behaviors” than others. Or perhaps, tolerance, in light of a broader perspective. Good or bad, it is where I find myself these days.

      As for what you said to your wife, Fran – I think it’s lovely. As for what the other woman you refer to said, actually, I understand it.

  6. says

    What I am suggesting is often experienced as highly demanding and threatening for people, so likely I would do better to use the blood, sweat and tears approach. Let me make a call for great courage for truth and openness, going well beyond the accepted norm, and affirm that in this case, the goal is worth the cost.

    “Wimpy?” Well, I was on a roll then. So what’s a plain-speaking Quaker to do? Must remember that the carrot does better than the stick. But the call for “open and honest” that I believe in, if taken seriously, is both demanding and worth the price.

  7. says

    Bierce defines jealous as “unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.”

    Delia, I had a jealous girlfriend once. It was the worst. She was constantly suspicious. And she was incapable of monogamy. I’m glad to say I finally ended the relationship. She left me.

  8. says

    Everyone gets a little jealous from time to time, I think it’s quite natural, really. I, however, cannot stand when someone goes crazily jealous, of everyone and everything. That definitely doesn’t help in relationships – while it is nice to know someone is somehow afraid they are not getting all you attention, it is extremely annoying to be followed and controlled by them all the time. Not sure whether the people who get jealous can do much about their situation, though. Anyway, thanks for the interesting read, now I got something to think about.

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