Jealousy is sometimes seen as a measure of love. So is a relationship without jealousy a loveless relationship? Often, jealousy sooner or later becomes a gnawing emotion in a relationship, affecting both the person who is suffering from it and the person who is the object of it. But can jealousy also be part of a good relationship?
Relationships are individual. They are coloured by the dynamics between two individuals. These dynamics are shaped by the personalities and needs of the individuals. In a polarised example, one person can be fun and open with one person, while another one can make the very same person quiet and reserved. The personalities of individuals can be caricatured into two categories: the controlling personality and the trusting personality. There are of course many variations in between, but here I will deliberately highlight these two extremes. The controlling personality wants to be in control and be warned about possible changes in advance. Surprising developments undermine his sense of security and he cannot tolerate uncertainty. He has learned in his life, perhaps even as a child, that trust without reservation is not good for him. The experience of a confident person is quite different. His trust has been met with confirmation time and time again. The trusting person believes in goodness and fairness.
Jealousy is mainly considered a normal emotion in the early stages of a relationship, when we do not necessarily have a clear picture of our partner’s limits. We do not know whether our boundaries meet or are they perhaps far apart. We do not yet know whether we can trust this partner. On this basis, it is certainly easy to understand that jealousy stems from a sense of insecurity. It is based on the basic question: will you choose me? Am I the most important person to you? Or at least important enough?
Jealousy can be driven by fear of loss and rejection, uncertainty about your own status or the limits of others, your own sense of inadequacy or insecurity, and a low, battered self-esteem. Past experiences and misunderstandings can also cause jealousy.
While living in a relationship, we change and develop as individuals and, as a result, the dynamics of our relationship change and develop. Therefore, it is also possible that feelings of jealousy may arise later in the relationship. This is particularly the case when individuals develop at different times. This jealousy, which is triggered by the differences in development, is a phenomenon that is specific to that stage and does not usually remain in the relationship for a longer period of time.
If the internal sense of security within the relationship cannot be stabilised along the way, jealousy can become a permanent feature of the relationship dynamics. In the worst case, this can turn the relationship into a toxic state, gnawing away at both individuals.
An honest and open discussion helps to understand both your own and your partner’s feelings. It is important that both parties are heard and understood. As people tend to find it difficult to talk about feelings of jealousy, discussions in this sensitive area often turn into blame and therefore do not progress constructively. In such a situation, it is worth seeking help from couples counselling or therapy.
Here again, the truth depends on your own experiences. Jealousy can be a gnawing emotion in a relationship, but also, to an appropriate extent, a relationship-enhancing sign of genuine caring.