Are you a self-proclaimed jealous person? A lot of people know they’re jealous and admit it when they speak to potential partners or lovers. People act out in jealousy constantly and consistently in the gay community. My question is why? Who said that it was ok to be jealous?
Allow me to explain. Jealousy is a human emotion, and like all human emotions we have very little control over their initial onset. When someone strikes us, we become sad or angry. When someone we love is gone, we can’t help but miss them. When someone embraces us fully, we feel happy and content. Human emotions are plentiful and different and experiencing them all is a healthy way to grow and understand yourself and the world around you. So why am I picking on jealousy? Well I only picking on jealousy in a more detailed manner for the sake of this article, however my following point can be prescribed to any human emotion: experiencing the emotion itself is almost impossible to control and frankly, you shouldn’t try to; what SHOULD be controlled is the actions that follow those emotions, the mannerisms that you enact when under the influence of a certain emotion. Regardless of which emotion it is, maintaining control over our behaviors is incredibly important if we wish to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We cannot lie down on the floor and curl into the fetal position every time someone makes us sad. We cannot take an ax and chase someone around every time we are angry. This is the same with jealousy. I’m specifically speaking on jealousy because I have noticed it to be a prominent and exasperating factor in too many relationships among my friends and peers. These are individuals I know to be smart and loving but without the proper self-analysis and practice to control their behaviors.
For me saying “I’m jealous” is like saying “I’m ignorant.” It would be my hope that people would try to NOT be ignorant, and therefore similarly try NOT to be jealous. Admitting jealousy is often used as an excuse for the behaviors that follow; it’s a justification for all the bullshit that will later ensue. If I’ve warned you I’m jealous when I met you, then later when we’re out together and I throw a drink in your friend’s face for saying hello to you, I can justify my behavior because I had previously told you about my jealous nature. Sorry folks, that’s a whole lot of weak shit and if you’re grown you need to strive to be above that. We as adults do not behave with such childish antics.
Why do I believe jealousy to be associable with ignorance? Well, I find jealousy to be a very powerful emotion and one with an unfortunate set of consequences if acted upon without thought. Jealousy is rooted in a very possessive kind of mentality. It is an envious desire or begrudging on another individual due to some interaction they are having with somebody else. People do dumb and awful things to each other due to jealousy; and I for one want to be able to say “no matter how bad he treated me, I always reciprocated with what was right.”
Let’s make an example. I have a boyfriend who I have been dating about a year, we get along great and things are flowing smoothly. One night I go out with him to a club where he sees his ex. He is elated to see him, as he has not communicated with him in over a year, and they embrace and begin to talk enthusiastically. They are touching each other on their shoulder, laughing, and for the moment I am on the sideline watching the situation. How should I react?
Well first and foremost it would be honest to say I probably would feel some jealousy. It’s a human emotion and watching my partner interact with someone who is not me so emphatically might set that emotion ablaze inside. However, my actions regarding the situation are dependent on a few factors. First and foremost I need to recognize that my boyfriend is not my property. He is my partner; someone who has invested their entire personality, the very time of their life, to engage with me and grow together in a relationship. He is an individual capable of interacting with anyone he sees fit, and deems to be healthy and conducive to the happiness in his life. I am no one to judge. Secondly, what is the nature of my jealousy? Why should I concern myself to the point of jealousy about my boyfriend’s connection is with his ex? This is an ex-boyfriend; an individual he fell in love with, invested a portion of his life to, and grew together with. He would not be the person I loved today if it was not for his relationship with this individual. I would never be jealous of their connection because that connection is completely unique to them. My concern is the prospering and development of OUR connection; that he and I maintain communication, passion, love, and challenge each other to grow. That has nothing to do with exes, his nor mine.
Now I’m sure there are a few of you reading this and already giving me some scrutiny, so let me clarify a bit more. There is a difference between controlling my jealousy, and reacting out to disrespect. Using my logic, I see that my boyfriend, who loves me and cares for me, is having a genuinely happy moment with someone he cared for immensely in his past. This is no threat to my relationship. If you DO find it to be a threat to your relationship, well then the trust you should share with your partner as the foundation of your relationship is not as strong as it should be. That’s a whole other situation altogether. Now, should the events unfold slightly differently, and I recognize bouts of genuine flirting, such as some stroking of the face or some hands in private places, some making out, etc., then the situation is quite different. Even in THOSE cases however, my jealousy still has no place; even if my boyfriend is making out with another guy in front of me, I should not be jealous. (Wtf JMC?!) I know, allow me to explain. The matter at hand here is not MY emotion of jealousy, but the DISRESPECT that my boyfriend is currently showing me. Another guy is making out with MY boyfriend; our possessive natures would instill jealousy into us and many of us would be ready to sock the other guy in the face. However, again I reiterate, the issue is not jealousy. It is still a possessive emotion and I already described how people are not property. However, we cannot deny the utter and disgusting show of disrespect that this individual has shown to you. Someone who is supposed to care for you and be invested in you is turning his back on the work and effort you both have hopefully put into the relationship and is casting it aside.
How to react? Well, personally, I’m fond of the “walk up to them, pull them apart, smile at my boyfriend, shake my head slightly, and walk away” approach. Turn off my phone, hang out with bestie, and cease communication, just letting his guilt fester and torment him. Trust, I am more than capable of the “leave you on the floor bleeding” approach, which MANY of us would, if we haven’t actually, enact with fervor. However, I refuse to lower my own standards and principles to teach an ignorant fool a lesson he still probably wouldn’t understand after being strung out on the floor. Now if the guilt never sinks into him – well why were you dating such a douchebag in the first place??
This control over jealousy is very important. It shows a massive amount of trust and faith in your partner. It demonstrates that you respect them as a complete individual, as a thinking, breathing human being, capable of making different choices every day. They are not your property and you respect their past choices, whether they were good or bad, because it has helped create the person you find attractive in front of you today.
Some people would argue that jealousy, in small doses, is good, because it demonstrates that your partner cares about you. They’re interested in what you’re doing and love you enough to defend you. Well let’s look at that sentiment more closely. Even in small doses the ruling nature of jealousy is possessiveness. Even in small doses you’re still treating your partner like a piece of property. Similarly, you aren’t actually defending anything. Not your boyfriend, not the sanctity of your relationship, and not yourself. You’re chastising your boyfriend by not trusting his interactions; you’re demonstrating your lack of trust in your own personal connection to him because you worry about his connections to others, and you disrespect yourself by allowing your emotions to dictate how you control your behaviors. Jealousy is definitely natural and occurs; this fact I will not deny. But HOW we react to it is what separates those who are ruled by their jealousy and those who seek to rise beyond it, to show a more genuine, true, and different form of respect and love for their partners.
Jealousy is indeed romanticized in our culture. Fighting to win the heart of someone, the contest to see who loves you more, who will win, all that nonsense. That’s all the competitive nature of our capitalistic society brought out in our relationships. Everything becomes a contest, even love. We pretend like there’s a shortage of good people out there. NO folks, the truth is there is a shortage of people willing to WORK TO MAKE IT GOOD. Everyone wants to find their boo, their loved one, but when things get hard, which they ultimately do, everyone just runs and hides and gives up, blaming the other person. That’s why the divorce rate in this country is astoundingly high (50%+). If you are blessed to find that one special person and your life is transformed into a miracle fairy tale with no problems, congratulations, but you are the exception not the norm. People need to stop imagining this scenario and instead be ready to bump heads with their loved ones every now and again. That’s what challenge is, that’s what builds the true strength of a relationship, working together through hardship to find understanding. Don’t be scared of conflict; learn how to make it productive for your relationship.
Please recall these are my own opinions and my own observations between my own relationships and the relationships of my loved ones and peers. You don’t have to agree. My purpose is not to belittle those who do succumb to their jealous natures. Rather, this is an attempt to have them re-evaluate how their emotions influence their behaviors and what detriment that could be causing to their lives; what opportunities they could be missing out on. I’ve found some beautiful, amazing people in this world but ultimately jealousy breaks us apart. I have no patience for jealousy at all anymore. I have interacted with it for far too long and with far more potency than I care to share. I would rather live honestly and in control of my behaviors, waiting to find someone similar, who I can truly invest in on a significant and amazing level.