“CUTIE” Aww, thanks little candy heart.
“YES” I… didn’t ask anything?
“KISS ME” Well, you don’t mess around, do you!
Yup, it’s Valentine’s Day, and once again I’ve got some conversation hearts. SweeTarts ones in a little box about the size of a deck of cards because I didn’t get to the store until yesterday and that’s all that was left. Good enough.
Why is jealousy so stigmatized?
No, really. It happens to everyone. You can’t just turn it off. And it sucks.
Here’s a classic scenario. Say you have a partner you’re incredibly glad to have. This partner at some point makes a new friend they like a whole lot and spend a lot of time with. And you? You find that each time your partner spends time with said friend or even mentions them you get this sickly feeling in your stomach. Partner is having such a good time with this person, but do they still enjoy you? Might the time they spend with this friend make them realize you actually kind of suck and they’re better off without you?
You don’t want to feel this way. You don’t want to be That Person. You know full well that no one person can meet all of anyone’s interpersonal needs and that it’s important to have others in one’s life, so it’s unrealistic to expect partner to drop this friend, not to mention toxic as hell. So you know what’s right and it’s all in good faith, and as such there’d be no point in responding to said feelings with anything like “shut up, your partner has a right to have friends, stop being a jealous loser!”
And that’s the trouble. You’re not only having these very much unwanted feelings but are being made to feel like you’re a toxic asshole because of it. Or that you’re just hopelessly insecure. And that just makes the feelings so much worse. I mean, if you’re feeling this way, it might be wise to actually discuss it with partner. But, no, you can’t do that. Then partner would know you’re having these toxic asshole insecure feelings and would just further convince them that they should leave. Maybe this just convinces yourself that you’re less and less worthy of having this person or anyone in your life because you’re -gasp!- jealous.
Jealousy is a very normal feeling, and we all feel it once in a while. Anyone who claims to be “above” it is a liar. The important thing is trying to figure out where it’s coming from and work on finding a way of making it stop that way. Which is, of course, so much harder when you’re made to feel like you’re a piece of shit because of it. Feeling like a piece of shit is where it comes from in the first place.
Jealousy is like this alarm in your head that just won’t stop going off, signaling that something is very wrong, real or imagined. Going back to the example, the partner’s friend isn’t the problem, and you know that. The problem is that there’s some need of yours that’s either not being fulfilled or is in jeopardy, or at least seems to be. You are absolutely in mental anguish right now.
I’m not going to venture any guess as to what a specific solution might be, as that varies from person to person. But a lot of it is figuring out what need is being unfulfilled and trying to satisfy it. We all need to be loved. We all need to be seen and heard. We all need to have our efforts recognized. We all need understanding when we are hurting. We all need to be reassured that everything is going to be okay.
None of this is to say that any toxic behavior as a result of jealousy (or anything else for that matter) should be tolerated. Being jealous is not a choice, but what you do about it absolutely is. But I’m just saying it helps to stop acting like this some-need-is-in-peril-or-unmet anguish is anything other than very normal and very human. And to remember that anyone going through it is still very much worthy of love and companionship.
At least the candy hearts understand.
“XOXO” Affection little candy heart.
“MAYBE” Ah, you’re more discerning than that YES one, I see.
“LOVE U” Despite having negative feelings sometimes? Aww, thanks!