What Is Jealousy?


Most of my life I have been surrounded by jealous people. They suffer from fear, suspicion, loneliness, distrust and sense of loss. This sad state is not to be confused with envy where the afflicted suffer from feelings of inferiority, longing, resentment, ill will, desire to possess the attractive rival’s qualities and disapproval of feelings. Often people have both at the same time. I’ve noticed jealousy because I have a secret. I’ve battled to understand it and finally am old enough to come out my closet and confess that I have no truck or connection with either jealousy or envy. I wasn’t always like this. I recall the anguish of intense jealousy from several occasions when I was younger, but somewhere in my early twenties it just went away. I have no idea why.

Whilst jealousy is fear of losing something, often a relationship or psychological state, like “happiness,” envy is the resentment of not having something one wants.

A jealous person lives in constant fear that they’ll lose affection, be perceived as unattractive, and have their emotional and physical companions leave them. They commonly want to know: “Where are you going?” “Who were you talking to?” “Do you think she’s pretty?” “Do you really love me?”

Whilst jealousy is an emotion/relationship centered problem, envy seems to creep into the world at large involving the neighbours, race groups and the Haves vs Have Nots.

Relationship jealousy is a very real and alive phenomena, so much so that it’s a socially accepted form of self expression for the insecure. It’s condoned, by religion, marriage structures, talk shows, media, teen mags, art in all forms and most social structures. It’s considered natural in many situations, including dating, marriage, monogamous relationships and friendships. To not suffer from jealousy marks one as different and even can have one labelled insensitive, uncaring and in one extreme personal example, “psychopathic.” (Laughing didn’t help.)

For jealousy to survive and thrive in society, some simple rules need to be adhered to. Whilst these rules are neither logical or even that useful, they have become pretty cosmic and aren’t often challenged.

They are, more or less:


  • True love makes a person immune to sexual desire for others.
  • If my mate were happy, they wouldn’t want to be with other people.
  • The success of a relationship lies in its exclusivity.
  • The success of a relationship is judged by its longevity.
  • You can only love one person at a time.

Unfortunately, rational thought won’t help the afflicted because jealousy is probably a bit complicated.

It could have a biological basis of seed and genetic protection, or survival of the fittest by subjugation and possession of the desired person. Turning a partner into an object to control and demand subjugation from, doesn’t seem unreasonable under the biological imperative to control your gene pool and progeny.

Secondly, all the rubbish dished up by main stream media, women’s magazines and TV shows on relationships is an impressive amount of brainwashing material, which probably influences the young and undiscerning as well as the unthinking. Jerry, Cheaters, talk show hosts, Dr Phil and numerous magazines have made very comfortable livings from serving up this vanilla and it shows the extent of the malaise in western society anyway.

Thirdly, a traditional society built on the sweat of men and the rearing and nurturing of women suited things very well until overpopulation, sexual equality and consumerism became the vogue. Now with everyone working, no real need for children and a ‘must spend money on the latest gizmo’ attitude, the traditional nuclear marriage model is more like a reactor melt down. More than half of marriages fail and 50/50 aren’t good betting or business odds in my book.

There are other factors, but this isn’t a novel, so lets get back to jealousy. Is it useful? Is it beatable? I think that if you have a brain or have emotional sensitivity and want to experience heights of love, passion and meaningful relationships, jealousy has to go. Sharing is caring, the world is deep and wide, isolation is not a test of intimacy and having to deal with another’s insecurity is like carrying a large cross up a little hill: not really worth it. To fully explore the world and bring life and interest into relationships, one should travel lighter, with more confidence and should swap the heavy load of jealousy for the wings and joy of compassion, or at least a sense of happiness at a partner’s enjoyment and a world having fun.

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George Forder


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