Jealousy is a concept I could never understand. I believe I can explain what mix of elements are responsible for creating it, what makes it take roots, but I can’t understand why do people allow it to grow and flourish. And I find the large number of people who believe that jealousy is proof of love and a good thing in a relationship, even if they tend to specify that it is only good in moderation, as being even more incomprehensible. How can anyone believe that an obviously wrong and harmful emotion is good?
Jealousy usually makes one impose unreasonable restrictions on their partner, or at least track their actions and make unreasonable assumptions about them. That creates power struggles within the relationship, and that can only tear it apart, making the jealous person’s partner more likely to look for someone else, or just for a way out, even if otherwise they wouldn’t have wanted to leave. It’s bad in itself and it only creates more bad things once it rears its ugly head. So what’s wrong with those who think it’s a good and even a necessary thing?
It’s not that hard to explain jealousy, even if you’re not a mental health professional. Actually, those who are might have a different explanation for it, but I never cared to look, seeing as they’re wrong most of the time. The way I see it, jealousy is what happens when possessiveness meets insecurity. Distrust is mandatory, though it could be an effect and not a cause, and ego and pride are also factors. What this means is that one person desires to have exclusive rights over their partner, own them if you will, they even feel entitled to this, but at the same time they don’t think it’s possible. Whether that’s because they don’t feel worthy of it or because they don’t think their partner is willing to allow themselves to be owned doesn’t matter much, as both of these reasons are present, sometimes even at the same time.
So it all starts from possessiveness, the desire to have exclusive rights over your partner. I know that much, but I can’t figure out why do people think that way. The fact that I fully support polyamory might have something to do with why I can’t understand this, but I really don’t. I don’t think they desire to be owned in the same way themselves, which means that they believe they’re superior to their partners. Having reached that conclusion, I have to ask what makes them think that. Actually, while we’re on this topic, why is owning that specific person so important to them, if they believe they’re superior to him or her?
If you think about it, the best thing you could say is that it makes no sense. The worst you could say is that it does make sense and it says a lot of bad things about those who act this way. Of course, if the latter is true and they’re just rotten, like most people are, they aren’t going to care. That might actually be the typical case, as most don’t seem to really care about all the problems their jealousy is causing, but what about those who do care? What about those who realize that their jealousy is hurting their partner and their relationship, yet still don’t stop? It could be that they can’t stop once it went past a certain level, it became a part of them and that obviously can’t change, but what made them let it get to that point? Did they only start to care once it became a serious problem or… What happened? Again, it just makes no sense.
But if that makes no sense, what about those who think it’s a good thing? They seem to believe that love implies jealousy and that you don’t really love someone if you’re not jealous. To me, that sounds like their ego talking, because if you love someone it’s quite obvious that you want them to be with you, but not that you want them to be yours. There’s a big difference beween the two, seeing as the latter implies ownership. The problem here is that you pretty much have to believe that your partner is inferior to you in order to feel entitled to own them, but you can’t believe that about someone you truly love. Ego and love, or pride and love, don’t mix well at all.
There are, of course, some potential explanations… One would include repressed dominant or submissive tendencies, which surface in the form of either jealousy or the desire for a jealous partner because they aren’t included in the relationship otherwise. Another would involve insecurities, which could lead one down the path of wishful thinking and make them reason that a jealous partner is interested in holding on to them and therefore less likely to leave, despite the fact that possessiveness actually makes such a partner more likely to just use them and not return favors. Yet another, and perhaps the simplest one, is that people try to justify what they already feel, so those who tend to be jealous will say that jealousy is a good thing just to avoid thinking that they might be doing something wrong.
There are several possible explanations, but no justifications. What matters is that jealousy harms. Whether it’s intentional or not is less important, because the result is what matters. Insecurity could actually help sometimes, if it’s treated in a constructive manner, if it causes the person feeling it to be the best they can be in an attempt to be good enough. But the other “ingredients”, possessiveness, ego, pride and lack of trust, can only harm a relationship. They create power struggles and a vicious circle which results in nothing but pain and suffering.
That said, why don’t people learn to offer each other the freedom they themselves would like to have? And perhaps even more than that, seeing as we’re talking about those they love… We complain that our bosses treat us as if we were worthless or that our governments are taking away our freedoms, yet we tend to treat even those we claim to love as inferior and take away their freedoms whenever possible.