What is jealousy? Is it part of any normal relationship, or is it always destructive? The origins of jealousy are not clear. Some believe that jealousy was our solution to mate retention due to our “concealed fertilization” process (Basset 72). While others believe that it is how we compare what we have to what other have and is triggered by “perceived threats to relationships” and is designed to “trigger initial emotional reactions” (Basset 73). What is clear is that jealousy has been a part of the human race for as long as our species has developed social structures. Smith indicates that t here are several types of jealousy ranging from mild to severe when verbal and physical threats come in. When jealousy reaches this stage of intensity, he advises that “you need to get the hell out of there” (qtd. in Jet 2002). This extreme form of jealousy has obviously gone too far, but are there forms of jealousy that are natural or even helpful?
To understand and judge the effects of jealousy in relationships we must first analyze where it comes from. To begin with, “jealousy occurs as a result of a perceived threat to an existing relationship” (Aune). This means that the person who becomes jealous feels that their standing with the other person is threatened in some way. The causes of these feelings of vulnerability can stem from a variety of sources depending on the sex, experiences, and general disposition of the person. Owens points out that one common misconception on the cause or reason for jealousy from the recipient’s point of view is that “If you’re jealous, it must mean you love me.” Owens also notes that jealousy is more often a “reflection of other things like the person’s need to control fear of being alone, or poor self esteem” (qtd. in Jet 2002).
Men tend to be more jealous of physical infidelity and women more jealous of emotional fidelity. In evolutionary terms this is caused by a man’s need to be sure he is the father of the female’s offspring, and a female’s need to be sure that her dietary needs will be met during and after pregnancy (Harris 7). Due to these differences, jealousy needs to be addressed differently in each case. Since jealousy can be a major source of conflict in any partnership and “is destructive in even its smallest formand can interfere with and destroy a relationship” (qtd. in Jet 2002) it should be dealt with as soon as it is recognized. Some of the many forms of jealousy that are out there range from mild reproofs toward a partner that spend a little too much time staring at an attractive person to severe where threats are made or carried out. Men tend to act out their jealousy violently more often than women (Basset 72). Many times jealousy is the natural possessiveness that partners in a relationship have for each other and the exhibition of it is a sign of their desire to maintain the relationship. This is often the case in “open” relationships where partners are not exclusive to one another.
Trust is both the best prevention and cure for jealousy in a relationship. In order to repair a relationship however, partners should recognize that the solution to solving jealousy is mainly good communication skills in conjunction with growth of mutual respect. Where there is no trust in a relationship, there will be problems whether it is infidelity (imagined or otherwise), jealousy, or withdrawal from the partner. Owens emphasizes that “communication has to be open on both sides” (qtd. in Jet 2002) if a solution is going to work. Both sides of the partnership have to face their own failings and behavior and be willing to do what is necessary and work together to make it right. Once the people start to distance themselves from each other, the relationship has hit a serious decline and it is either time to break it off and find someone else or do some serious soul searching to work together to make it better
To solve jealousy within yourself, it is important to realize that you too are important, work on your self-esteem and