Jealousy is the green-eyed monster that single-handedly ruins most relationships. It makes you feel anxious, worried and humiliated. The third person who comes between you and your partner becomes an attacker in your mind, who wants to personally harm you by taking away something you have.
Jealousy is often confused with envy, but they are in fact slightly different emotions. You feel jealous when you fear losing something or somebody, while envy is the intense longing for something or somebody you don’t currently have. To learn more about envy, please watch the episode titled “How to overcome envy”.
Jealousy in itself is not inherently bad, it’s a natural emotion that even small babies feel. Just like every other emotion, jealousy is about survival, and just like every other negative emotion, it motivates you to do something. In the case of jealousy, the motivation is to strenghten your social bonds that help your survival.
How ironic that the very same emotion meant to make relationships last ruins them most of the time? A small dose of jealousy is healthy, because it helps you notice that something is wrong, and you need to change your behaviour or attitude in a positive way. There’s nothing wrong in trying to make a relationship work, because relationships are healthy.
What’s unhealthy is when you feel that something is wrong with you, and to soothe your insecurities, you grasp onto your partner as if he or she was a rock preventing you from falling into the endless abyss of self-pity and self-hate. That’s how jealousy turns into the green-eyed monster, and when you look into its eyes, you can see your own inadequacy in them.
That’s when you start controlling, manipulating and blaming your partner for all kinds of things perceived or imagined. Such an overblown jealousy almost always turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy: Your beloved becomes so frustrated that she leaves you, even if she didn’t cheat on you. Or, she cheats on you, exactly because you made her feel so miserable with your jealousy.
It’s natural that a small child will feel jealous of his sibling, because the parent’s attention is directly related to his well-being. If he is neglected in any way, his life is literally threatened, because he depends on these social bonds completely in his early years. It’s not surprising that brothers and sisters have such a strong sense of social justice, and they want everything to be distributed among them equally.
As you become older, your priorities shift. In high school, the social bonds that matter most to you are not with your parents but with your friends. We used to live in tribes for thousands of years, where being accepted was a question of life and death. We could only hunt efficiently in groups, so if you were ostracized, you remained alone and hungry.
Although our lifestyle has changed, our brains did not. That’s why in the teenage years it matters so much who you make friends with, which social group you belong to, and how popular you are among your peers. If the new guy or girl threatens your established status, you immediately respond with the primordial feeling of jealousy.
Later on, your priorities shift again, as the biological programming to reproduce kicks in. The only way to inherit your genes is to select and keep a partner, and to protect the relationship almost like a possession. The man wants to protect his woman’s womb from other intruders, so he feels sexual jealousy. The woman is more concerned with keeping his man by her side to help raise the children, so her jealousy is more romantic in nature.
What you need to realize is that you’re neither a child nor a caveman anymore. You are a conscious adult person, independent and self-reliant. Your survival, well-being and happiness doesn’t depend on your relationships. If it does, that’s a big problem, and it’s also the main reason for your jealousy. You have to be able to be perfectly happy alone, your friends, your partner, your family is just a bonus you can share your happiness with.
Jealousy is a clear sign that you are taking something from the relationship instead of adding something to it. If you’re relying on the other, then it’s natural that you feel threatened by the prospect of losing your partner. But if you’re only giving without expecting nothing in return, then you don’t have anything to worry about. A flower is happily sharing its fragrance whether anybody is there to smell it or not.
If you’re jealous, it’s a sign that you’re a taker and not a giver. And you feel the need to take because you believe you lack something. Most of the time, you don’t love yourself enough, so you depend on the other person’s appreciation and attention for your self-esteem. To change this equation for the better, I want you to watch my video titled “How to love yourself”.
Jealousy is ultimately a selfish emotion that arises when you confuse fake love with true love. I have a separate episode about this as well, but in a nutshell: fake love is preoccupied with your own happiness, while true love is about the other, independent of your self-interests.
You will know that you’ve overcome jealousy when all you wish is your beloved to be happy, no matter what, even if you’re not included in the picture. This requires rock-solid self-esteem, and is unimaginable to most people, but I can assure you that a jealousy-free relationship exists, and it’s possible to achieve it.
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