Is love jealous

Jealousy Hurts Love, or Does It?

Source: By propio (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Jealousy, Shakespeare’s “green-eyed monster,” is a universal human experience. Like love itself, jealousy is multi-dimensional, involving emotions (anxiety, anger), thoughts (“She’s going to leave me for him;” “He loves her more than he loves me”) and behaviors (nagging; spying on your partner).

In part, jealousy resides within—a property of the individual as shaped by his or her personality and unique history. When and how people feel and express jealousy has to do with who they are.

However, just as importantly, jealousy is also a property of the relationship, emerging out the dynamics of the couple, a product of their particular dance of intimacy. When and how you feel and express jealousy has to do with you, the person you’re with, and how you relate as a couple.

Finally, jealousy also takes shape, as do all things human, in a socio-cultural milieu; when and how you become jealous has to do with the dictates of your culture, the social mores, traditions, and expectations in which your life is embedded.

The term “jealousy” summons mostly negative connotations. Jealous people are often perceived as unreasonable, controlling, troubled, possessive, and dangerous. When jealousy enters romantic relationships, it often brings pain, as suspicion and conflict are likely to follow.

It is no surprise that research has often linked romantic jealousy with strife and dissatisfaction in a relationship. Jealousy-prone individuals have been found to suffer from low self-esteem and self-confidence, to experience depression, and have insecure attachment styles.

At the extreme end of the continuum are those obsessively and morbidly jealous individuals—mostly men—who end up committing what is known, inelegantly, as “crimes of passion.” (In fact, those are first and foremost crimes of violence.)

However, to view romantic jealousy as 100% bad—the product of a weak personality and the harbinger of strife—is incorrect. Research has shown that jealousy can be a sign of feeling deeply in love with a partner. It may contribute to relationship satisfaction by signaling emotional commitment and investment. It may contribute to relationship stability by prompting partners to further nurture their bond and actively protect their union.

In the early '90s, the evolutionary psychologist David Buss and colleagues famously proposed that jealousy is in fact an adaptive response, as necessary as love and sex, alerting partners to potential threats from outside “mate poachers.” As a tool of mate protection and retention, they argued, jealousy is not a bug in our software but rather a feature of our evolved hardware.

If jealousy is a biologically wired adaptive mechanism, then we could expect it to show up in children. And it does.

We would also expect to see it in other social animals, and we do. For example, a recent study by Christine Harris and Caroline Prouvost of the University of California San Diego showed that dogs show it as well. The authors found that dogs “exhibited significantly more jealous behaviors (e. g., snapping, getting between the owner and object, pushing/touching the object/owner) when their owners displayed affectionate behaviors towards what appeared to be another dog as compared to nonsocial objects.”

Moreover, evolutionary psychology makes two specific predictions based on this view of jealousy as adaptive. First, it proposes that in any intimate relations, the more attractive partner will elicit more jealousy. And indeed, Buss & Shackelford (1997) found that men were more jealous of female partners at the peak of youth and attractiveness while women were more jealous of male partners of high status and wealth. Research also found that in romantic pairs, the higher the social value (attractiveness to others) of their partner, the more likely an individual is to experience jealousy.

Second, evolutionary psychology predicts that males and females will differ in the type of transgressions that elicit their jealousy. Males’ ability to propagate their genes depends heavily on their access to an unoccupied uterus. Therefore, they are likely to be particularly jealous of sexual infidelity. Females, on the other hand, have little difficulty accessing sperm, but they need the male’s presence and continual commitment to increase the odds that their offspring will survive and thrive. Thus, females will be jealous of their male mates’ emotional infidelity.

Research has tended to support this hypothesis. For example, Brad Sagarin of Northern Illinois University and his colleagues have recently published meta-analyses of 40 studies that measured sex differences in jealousy. They found a significant sex difference in responses to sexual and emotional infidelities in both actual and hypothetical infidelities studied.

Moreover, a new study just published by Dr. David Frederick of Chapman University and Melissa Fales, a Ph.D. candidate of UCLA examined responses to sexual versus emotional jealousy among 63,894 U.S. gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual participants.

The researchers asked the participants to imagine which scenario would upset them more: their partners having sex with someone else (but not falling in love with them) or their partners falling in love with someone else (but not having sex with them). Results were consistent with the evolutionary perspective. Specifically, heterosexual men were more likely than heterosexual women to be upset by sexual infidelity (54 vs. 35%) and less likely than heterosexual women to be upset by emotional infidelity (46 vs. 65%). This gender difference emerged across age groups, income levels, history of being cheated on, history of being unfaithful, relationship type, and length, but only in heterosexual participants.

The propensity to become jealous of one’s romantic partner appears to be wired biologically, echoing our distant past; but biological and distant explanations are never sufficient in accounting for proximal psychological experiences. “Biologically adaptive” does not necessarily mean “psychologically healthy” or, for that matter, “socially acceptable.”

Evolution is in the business of getting genes to move forward, not in the business of getting people and relationships to flourish. And so the inconsistent research findings regarding whether jealousy helps or hurts relationships still require explanation.

In the early '90s, Robert Bringle of Purdue University at Indianapolis pointed to one possible explanation by proposing the existence of two distinct types of jealousy.

The first type is suspicious jealousy, which tends to be chronic in nature, involving primarily mistrust, suspicious ruminations, and snooping behaviors that arise in the absence of any real or significant outside threat. This type of jealousy is neurotic in essence because it is mainly a reflection of inner turmoil and relates to individual characteristics of the jealous person such as anxiety and low self-esteem.

In contrast, reactive jealousy tends to be episodic in nature; it arises when a concrete outside threat to intimacy is introduced (someone is hitting on your guy). Reactive jealousy is mostly an emotional response to real, current outside threats and overt partner behaviors; the reactively jealous person is more conscious of their behavior, takes responsibility for it, and takes their partner’s intent into account when evaluating the situation.

The two types of jealousy may overlap, and one may morph into the other. If you catch your partner with someone else, your reactive jealousy may morph into suspicious jealousy as you begin to worry about your partner’s overall trustworthiness.

On the other hand, suspicious jealousy could morph into a reactive one. If you constantly harass and nag your partner with unwarranted jealous accusations and suspicions, that very behavior may make you a less attractive partner and hence more likely to actually be abandoned for a more worthy rival. Petty jealousy may become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as your partner may decide that if they’re already doing the time, they might as well do the crime.

This framework predicts that suspicious jealousy will be linked to negative attributes and outcomes, while reactive jealousy will be linked to positive personal and relationship attributes. Research evidence appears to support this prediction.

For example, a recent study by the social psychologist Mark Attridge has found that suspicious jealousy, marked by anxious ruminative thoughts and surveillance behaviors, was associated with lower life satisfaction, and more obsessive and game-playing love styles. Reactive jealousy, marked by a strong emotional response, was linked to a stronger relationship commitment, higher satisfaction, and greater closeness.

The take-home message emerging from the research is that jealousy, in the context of romantic relationships, should neither be greeted with surprise nor, necessarily, alarm. Your response should depend on the type and source of the jealousy. If you are the receiver of suspicious jealousy, it should alert you to examine your partner’s character. If you receive reactive jealousy, examine your own actions.

Conversely, if you experience suspicious jealousy, involving chronic ruminations and obsessive nagging or surveillance behavior in the absence of evidence of a true relationship threat, then self-examination is in order, as you are likely being haunted by "ghosts"—unresolved issues in your personal history that may be distorting your perception in the here and now, causing you to see the world as you are, not as it is. If your jealousy is of the emotional, reactive kind, examine your partner and his or her actions.

If both of you decide, upon reflection, that your relationship is worth protecting, nurturing, and saving, then it appears that open constructive communication is a key to managing jealousy.

Honest communication about jealousy, however, is not easy. Since jealousy carries a social stigma, and since disclosing it to a lover may complicate the relationship, people often feel reluctant to discuss it openly.

Still, secrecy, suspiciousness, and insecurity are not sturdy foundations on which to build a relationship. When it comes to jealousy, misguided worries and ruminations may lead to counterproductive types of coping such as threats and manipulations.

At the end of the day, when trying to solve the problem of jealousy, we would do well to remember that—as with other human affairs—while good communication does not guarantee success, the absence of it practically guarantees failure.

Jealousy is not a sign of love

Pooja Bedi

Pooja Bedi represents the uninhibited, strong willed, personally and professionally successful modern Indian woman who has donned many hats. Her prolific career spans the worlds of film, television, advertising, media, digital media and entertainment. She has authored “Timepass” (Penguin, top 10 national bestseller 2000) as well as a real life story on female foeticide titled, “born to die”, in the book, “Because I am a girl” (Random house). Through this multiple award winning column, “Heart Chakra”, this liberated, modern, free-thinking individual offers her readers an out of the box, open-minded perspective to relationships. She believes, “when you change your thinking, you change your attitude, and when you change your attitude, you change your life”. She also conducts “HAPPY SOUL” workshops which amalgamate science and spirituality, and lend to healing and empowering people to being the best versions of themselves. She also champions the cause of safe sex, HIV awareness, breast cancer, Poverty Housing, female foeticide and infanticide, and epitomises a woman who constantly seeks to change and take from strength to strength, not just herself, but the world around her. She has been awarded multiple times for all her avatars, be it as a person, a professional and a humanitarian. ... MORE

Many people glamourize jealousy by saying it’s a sign of love. It’s not! It’s a sign of insecurity and reflective of seeing your partner as an object to be possessed. It’s a negative emotion stemming from both desire and insecurity, but not love. Conversely, if you love the fact someone is possessive about you, it stems from your debilitating need to be loved and be taken care of, even at the cost of your freedom.

Jealousy and possessiveness are not safe cocoons. It’s a prison where the prisoner has to behave as per the rules and insecurities of the jailor or be punished for it. There is no space or regard for trust, individuality or personal growth. Your love for your partner and your desire to see them happy will be used as a means to whip you into subservience and to force you to bow down to their demons. None of it is healthy, desirable or productive. None of it will create harmony and long term happiness. To truly love is to trust. To allow those you love to blossom, be the best they can be. To be protective and not possessive because being protective is to care about them and being possessive is all about catering to the self.

People should be together because they support each other, bring out the best in each other and to be the best they can be. Don’t punish people for loving you, allow their love to help you conquer your demons.

I am a 66-year-old woman and have been living alone for the past two years. I have kids but they hardly come to see me and instead of staying in their own house, they choose to live apart. I feel extremely lonely and would want someone to be in the same house. What should I do?

You have many options. If your kids can’t be around, be a support system to them and flood your home with your grandchildren. Be the fun grand mom they all love to be with. Alternatively, you can join charitable organisations or clubs that enable you to have a full day, purpose and the opportunity to meet many people your age. Once the right person enters your life it’s for you to decide at that juncture how deeply you wish to commit to them.

I am a 24-year-old man and have been living on my own for about three years now. However, now I would like to live with my parents and I am contemplating a transfer. However, my hometown is in Bihar and it’s not a very well established place. What should I do?

Are you wanting to live with your parents because you love them and want to stay with them for the rest of your life? If so, then move back and take on the responsibility of making it a productive decision for your company. However, if it’s because you find living on your own difficult, then work hard at going up the ladder in an established city and earn well enough to marry someone who is as happy to take care of your needs as you are to take care of hers.

I have been in a relationship for about a year now. My parents want me to get married to my boyfriend, however, I feel it’s too early to think on those lines and would like to get to know him better. My parents refuse to understand and just feel that it’s the right time for me to get married now. Please help.

The person is important. Not the time. Assert that if after a year, there are still apprehensions then they should respect you for being practical and for wanting a solid and good marriage, rather than rushing into something that may cause pain and upheaval in everyone’s lives later. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush according to them, but look before you leap is a far better adage in this scenario.

I am a 20-year-old girl and live with my uncle and aunt. My parents live in our hometown in Rajasthan and I am here for my studies. I understand that my aunt and uncle are concerned about me, however, sometimes I feel they just go overboard with their concern and often threaten me with dire consequences if I don’t listen to them. What should I do?

You must realise that if anything were to go wrong, your parents will hold them accountable. So appreciate their concern for you and their own standing in the family and just grin and bear their well-placed concern. Maximise the education because once you get a good job and have enough money to move out, it’s your life, your way, all the way.



Views expressed above are the author's own.


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Jealousy: why we experience this feeling from a scientific point of view

Negative experiences from childhood can also be included here. For example, parents paid more attention to the younger child, and the older child felt a lack of warmth and love. Then, in adulthood, the elder will look for this warmth and love in other people - and, most likely, be jealous. The modern psychoanalyst Peter Kutter also speaks of this. He relates the origin of jealousy to the trauma of the rejected child. No parent can absolutely always be caring (this is normal). Depending on how strongly this lack of attention was felt in childhood, an adult will be more or less jealous.

Own projections

This is the paradox reason. If a person cheated or thought about cheating, he may begin to suspect his partner. After all, “something such a thought crept into my head - where is the guarantee that a loved one does not have such thoughts?” This is also called "judge for yourself."

Idealistic mood

"In order not to be disappointed, one should not be enchanted." When in your imagination you draw beautiful pictures of how “it should be”, in reality something will definitely not suit you. Simply because the partner cannot get into your head and understand what you are waiting for. And it will seem to you that you are not getting enough love, attention and care from a loved one.

Treating people like property

It seems that there is no need to explain anything - another person cannot completely belong to you. This should not be forgotten. Jealousy also arises on the basis of the fact that someone else "uses your loved ones." But people are not things to be used and divided like property.

Dependence on a partner

Both emotional and material dependence are considered here. If your whole world revolves around one person, then, of course, it will seem to you from time to time that his attention is not enough. If your mood depends on your partner and only - you will acutely feel any changes in the moral state of your loved one. But addiction, as you know, is a pernicious thing.

Jealousy must be fought, but only if it is excessive and unreasonable. Such a phenomenon leads to resentment of a loved one - instead of bringing him closer to us, we push him away. I like the discussion of the existential psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist and philosopher Viktor Frankl on this subject: he doubted his loyalty. Of course, loyalty is one of the tasks of love. But this is always a task only for the one who loves, and can never be a demand directed at a partner.

“Of course, loyalty is one of the tasks of love. But this is always a task only for the one who loves, and can never be a demand directed at a partner.

Talk to a loved one

The partner is sure that he does not give reasons to doubt, but the “reasons” are different for everyone. Then it is worth discussing your jealousy with a loved one. Explain that in your understanding this very “reason”, what reasons may actually be hidden behind your jealousy. It is important here to talk about your feelings, and not to make accusations to your partner. Sometimes a loved one simply does not understand what is happening and why. You may be able to deal with jealousy together—not alone.

Getty Images

Stop spying

Social media surveillance also counts. Worse than simply excessive and unreasonable jealousy can only be unreasonable jealousy, which you are trying to find grounds for in social networks, in personal correspondence of a partner, or anywhere else.

Work on self-esteem and love yourself

When you are passionate about your life, satisfied with it and developing in different directions, you have no strength, time and desire to think about potential betrayal by a loved one. In addition, in this case, you are not in an unhealthy dependence on a partner - you have a job, a hobby, business. And when you are confident in yourself and in the person who is nearby, why be jealous?

Get rid of jealousy

And stop thinking so damn much! “Thinking too much is bad” is one of the most valuable and at the same time underestimated phrases that have ever been said to me. Start by understanding the reasons for your jealousy. It’s even better to write them down on paper or in your phone notes. When you see the reasons for unreasonable jealousy , it will become easier to explain to yourself why being jealous in this case is useless and groundless. In addition, if you detail your experiences and describe the reasons for jealousy, it will become clear whether this feeling is justified or unreasonable.

"Thinking too much is bad."

Consult a psychotherapist

We will not tire of reminding you that this is not at all embarrassing. Psychotherapy is a great opportunity to deal with problems in a professional way. A psychotherapist will help you understand what is causing your jealousy, and together you will figure out how to deal with it. By the way, this is far from all that a psychotherapist can do - if you have been thinking about visiting him for a long time, then this is your sign that now is the time.

📖 7.11. Jealous personality, Love and jealousy, Chapter 7.

Psychology of love. Ilyin E. P. Page 56. Read online


7.11. Jealous personality

Chronic tendency to jealousy is called jealousy. It is considered a negative trait. It is especially difficult to deal with a jealous person when suspiciousness is a character trait. “Everything is clear jealousy, but there is no evidence!” - wrote M. Yu. Lermontov.

Jealousy trusts everyone and trusts no one.

W. Grzeszyk

Jealous means knowing nothing, having a wild imagination and being afraid of everything.

Louise de Vilmorin

The smile of a saleswoman in a store, a new employee at work, compliments to an actress or fashion model that appear on the TV screen (“You, a womanizer, should only look at young girls”), disinterested help to a lonely neighbor - all this is a reason for jealousy on the part of the spouse. If in a restaurant a man comes up to the table where a married couple is sitting, inviting his wife to dance, the husband refuses with displeasure. The jealous man is in constant tension, and he has flashes from time to time. The most unpleasant thing is that he can be jealous of a spouse for anyone.

Jealousy is the same gout: if these ailments are in the blood, you can never be sure that they will not break out suddenly, and often this happens on the most insignificant occasions when you least expect it.

Henry Fielding

Sometimes jealousy becomes a serious illness, especially in some mental illnesses. The jealous man does not give his victim a pass. His claims are completely absurd. Even if the wife, for example, puts on new clothes, the husband may take this as a signal for a love meeting with another man. Such a jealous man, walking down the street with his wife, constantly makes a scandal, believing that his wife all the time gives signals to other men, wanting to have sexual intercourse with them.

Research of jealous people

The results of one interesting experiment are presented in the article by A. Polev. David Lester and a group of collaborators in San Francisco undertook a highly complex study of men whose wives had divorced out of jealousy three years or more before the study itself. For the purity of the experiment, ethnic Latin Americans and Italians were excluded from it, for whom jealousy can be part of the culture, and only Anglo-Saxons aged 30 to 50 were left, who also have a secondary specialized or higher education (i.e., by American standards, very educated!). The results of the study were surprising: most of the men in the study group, being remarried, did not show any particular suspicion of their wives in new families. As wives this time (for the second time!) They chose such modest women, such nondescript gray mice, that even the idea of ​​the possibility of a “romance on the side” in relation to such a quiet one did not arise. The men themselves from the group studied were quite successful, attractive and socially adapted, so that the new wives made up a striking contrast with them. One gets the impression that these men have realized their problem, adapted to it and picked up a partner for a new union who does not provoke jealousy in them. By the way, the new wives had no idea that their husbands were jealous and that their first families were destroyed precisely for this reason.

Often such jealousy ends in a crime. Statistics show that more than 26% of men who killed their wives state that they loved them at the time of the crime, 18% did not lose these feelings for their wife after the murder.

Violent jealousy commits more crimes than greed.


It is impossible to give an unambiguous answer how to behave in such situations. And yet you can heed the following advice from psychologists.

1. If the spouse (s) turned out to be jealous, then you need to draw his attention to the degree of emotional dependence on you, to his desire for super-close, almost symbiotic relationships and try to describe to him all the disadvantages of such relationships.

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