We have all felt the pang of jealousy deep in our stomachs like a tightening knot within you that you just cannot get rid of, but what is jealousy in a relationship, and is it different for men and women?
Jealousy can rear its ugly head at any time. It may be when your dog runs just a little bit faster to your partner, or when a friend cancels plans with you to hang out with someone else. But, the most frequent time that we feel jealousy is when we are in a relationship.
Relationships can be, and often are, wonderful things to share with another person.
They can bring a new semblance of joy into your life and create a life-long commitment that can transcend anything you though possible. However, relationships can also reveal vulnerabilities that we would have never known existed if we had remained single.
Desire for Attention.
One of the most obvious vulnerabilities is our desire for attention. When a man sees his partner receiving attention from someone else, there might be a subtle hint of jealousy at first, but as the situation begins to shift these feelings can either subside or become inflamed. Many different factors can come into play, including attractiveness of the other person, interest of his partner, or even the frequency with which his partner receives such attention.
Suddenly, that slight gnawing feeling becomes an irrational rage that can transform a simple situation into a much more devastating one. The perception of a partner’s actions can have the ability to destroy trust, create suspicion, and possibly result in the end of the relationship. While their partner’s perspective on who they have chosen to be with can also be diminished.
The person they once believed was loving, caring, and trusting is now viewing them through a green haze of jealousy, creating feelings of defensiveness, anger, and betrayal in their partner. These churning emotions and feelings of hurt can be difficult to recover from, but not impossible if the root of the feeling is identified and addressed.
Unique in the world.
Another vulnerability that seems to take us by surprise is our desire to be the ‘only one’. We are born into a chaotic world, where many of us feel that we will be alone forever, but when someone responds to our love and caring in the same way, suddenly the sky clears, and we feel as if the sun is shining down on us for the first time since our childhood. We feel special and unique. We feel that nothing else in this world could possibly compare to the love that we share with our partner.
So, when we see our partner laughing or joking, touching and smiling with another person, it can create a sense of fear within us. The fear that we are not special. We are not unique. There are billions of other people out there that have the ability to make our partner smile and laugh, and that thought alone is enough for jealously to take hold.
Jealousy in Life.
When a woman experiences this situation, she can be confused, at first. After all, she should be happy that her partner is happy and having fun. It doesn’t make any sense for her to feel angry, upset, or threatened, but no matter how much she tries to reason with herself, the feeling remains. It can manifest in many ways, such as, anger, emotional isolation, or plain ordinary fear.
Anger can result in yelling, fighting, and insulting, while emotional isolation acts to protect her from further pain. It seeks to remove her emotions from her decisions, creating a barrier between her and her partner. This desert island approach can be effective in gaining control over her emotions, but if not quickly resolved can result in an irreparable rift in her relationship.
Fear is just as likely as anger or an emotional wall to damage her and her partner as it allows stress and anxiety to spread through every part of the relationship, shutting down communication and creating mistrust. While we all want to be special to someone, it is incredibly important to remember that we cannot be everything to that one person.
Humans crave social support systems that can be incredibly simple, or incredibly complex depending on the person and the time of their life. Some are content with just a few close friends and family members; others need a far more complicated social circle. Either way, one person cannot fill that need, and we need to understand and respect that in order for a healthy relationship to grow.
The third, and possibly most damaging, vulnerability that can create a sense of jealousy within our relationships is our own self-esteem. If one or both people in the relationship cannot come to terms with their own value, jealousy becomes almost an inevitability. If you have ever tried to compliment your partner and been greeted with rolling eyes or even something as simple as a derisive laugh, you know what it feels like to try to love someone who has a hard time loving themselves.
When we feel that we are not in good enough shape, we don’t look beautiful or handsome enough, or we don’t feel intelligent enough, it can be nearly impossible to understand why our partner is with us.
We cannot comprehend how we could ever measure up to their expectations and because of these feelings of inadequacy we will often react with jealousy any time that our partner interacts with someone who threatens our own self-image.
They may be more physically attractive, funnier, or more intellectually stimulating than we believe that we are, and our immediate reaction is one of jealousy. We may react by trying to ignore the situation, or confronting the other person angrily, but the reality is that if we are not happy with whom we are, inside and out, we give jealousy the opportunity to leak into every relationship we will ever have.
So, what is jealousy in a relationship? It is the culmination of our vulnerabilities and insecurities being drawn out because of our overwhelming desire to be loved and cared for by the person we love and care for most. It is not a simple emotion that can be pushed away, but something that must be acknowledged and worked on with our partners, so that we may grow beyond jealousy’s grasp.
We also recommend reading an interesting article: What Does a Romantic Relationship Mean?