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Romantic Jealousy: Understand It and Heal Yourself from It

In the evolutionary psychology, jealousy represented a survival mechanism that aimed to protect a group or a couple from potential intruders. Thus, looking from an extensive perspective, psychologists claim that jealousy was generated by reproductive challenges. More specifically, males were facing paternal insecurity if they were suspecting their mate of infidelity. Females’ insecurity, on the other hand, was caused by emotional aspects, worrying that their partner may develop emotional attachment with other females, which could have diverted all the reserved resources and affection for their children, towards somebody else.

Since certain personality traits are genetically transmitted, a study conducted by Swedish researchers aimed to investigate if jealousy is still caused by reproductive factors. The data indicate that men are troubled by the idea of their partner being physically unfaithful, whereas women tend to experience negative reactions to both physical and emotional unfaithfulness.

Clearly, these results may be a generalization since both genders may react the same to any type of infidelity as multiple factors can determine jealousy: individual differences, cultural influence, etc.

Nevertheless, the study highlights the fact that jealousy nowadays is still influenced by the same fears.

Types & Symptoms of Jealousy

Jealousy “is a signal, a wake-up call, that a valued relationship is in danger and steps need to be taken to regain the affection of one’s mate or friend.”  When a possible threat may appear, individuals could experience two types jealousy:

  • Obsessive jealousy is expressed through sadness, and pain related to the belief that the object of love will soon be lost, as well as by narcissistic suffering. It generates feelings of hostility against rivals and a certain degree of self-criticism. This type of jealousy originates in the sphere of the unconscious, perpetuating impulses of infantile affectivity.

Obsessive jealousy in men is expressed differently than in women. As such, a man’s fear of losing his wife/girlfriend may have its roots in some kind of insecurity about himself or in the quality of the relationship. If a man feels that the romantic connection is threatened, he will adopt an accusatory attitude in order to protect himself from the possibility of being emotionally hurt. When feeling susceptible, jealousy urges him to “throw” unfounded accusations. These men accuse their women of trying to attract the attention of other men, accept favours or prefer other male’s companies. Consequently, he wants to be assured that his partner’s interest only manifests towards him.

An additional common symptom of obsessive jealousy in men is possessivity. This is an alarming sign that can lead to abusive and sexual behaviours. Possessivity can be a source of conflict and disagreement as a man begins to fight for respect and attention. Be careful about the signals of possessiveness – when a man tells you how to dress, control your money and how you leave the house, decide what friends to meet and how often you can leave the house. 

But how do women behave when they experience an obsessive jealousy? The widely known silent treatment is the first sign. Because jealous people tend to see threats everywhere, women may become distant and not very talkative. Yet, ironically, they will call at strange hours or in the middle of the night with the excuse that they are thinking of their partner.

Other passive-aggressive signs are total ignorance in public, emotional manipulation or decreased desire for intimacy.

  •  Progressive jealousy focuses on maintaining a healthy relationship by searching solutions when issues arise. The individual examines his/her role in the relationship and gradually develops himself/herself in order to resolve conflicts or improve their actions.

Although jealousy has acquired a certain notoriety for its destructive effects, this “green-eyed monster” can also be beneficial.

When an individual experiences a healthy type of jealousy like the progressive one, the relationship/marriage has chances to grow. That is because the jealous party does not focus on imaginary scenarios and does not see the partner as a mean through which insecurities are healed. On the contrary! A progressive jealous individual becomes reflective of own’s actions, examines and attempts to resolve the discrepancies through open communication rather through accusations or demands.

Causes & Solutions

You must have heard people bragging about their luck of not knowing what jealousy feels like, but in reality, we all experience it at a certain point in relationships or marriage. Jealousy is a natural emotion just like sadness, anger, joy, etc. So there should be no shame in admitting that one wishes to protect their “nest”.

It is indeed true that jealousy most of the time is present in someone’s mind due to uncontrollable and irrealistic thoughts about their partner being secretly involved in other romantic affairs.

Nevertheless, jealousy does not surface solely because of imaginary scenarios. As the saying goes “There is no smoke without fire”.

The first and perhaps most common cause of jealousy is the emotional detachment in a relationship/marriage. When we spend years next to somebody, we begin to learn their emotional reactions or moods through their facial expressions and habits. Thus, it becomes easy to recognize changes.

Undoubtedly, a change does not always mean that a partner may stray away, but it can raise suspicions when there are less communication, less romance and more distance.

But jealousy can also appear when there are no problems in paradise. Although there are no reasons to doubt your partner’s loyalty, jealous seems to find its place in your heart/mind. This indicates that there are internal factors that must be dealt with, such as low self-esteem, self-perception or perhaps fears accumulated from previous relationships. 

Regardless of the factors that may consume your mind and energy, try to judge the situation as an outsider. Look at yourself the way you would look at a friend and think what would you advise someone who doubts their partner?

Make a list of what disturbs you and what led you to feel jealous. It may be that as you write down the “reasons”, you will notice that your fear is fed by useless thoughts with no roots in the reality.

If that still does not help and the feeling persists, calmly ask your partner to listen to your worries and guide you out of the maze. Communicating your thoughts will free your mind of negativity and will help your partner become aware of changes that he might have not noticed. Remember that a demanding career or simply the daily activities can send anyone into a robotic mode where one may unconsciously shut down emotions. Besides, when two people have lived together for a long period of time, the routine may settle in and replace romance.

So before making any assumptions, collect your emotions and thoughts and calmly discuss them with your partner.

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