Just A Jealous Guy?

I have a friend - let's call her Erin - who's having some relationship issues at the moment. Recently, it's surfaced that her boyfriend has, over the course of a few weeks, systematically made his way through her texts, emails, Skype chats and Facebook messages. Somewhat unfortunately, this is a tale that we hear all too often. In this 'day and age', we have so many channels for communication; one click can provide the key to a 'Pandora's Box' of personal information that should have remained closed. Some months before our chat, Erin and her boyfriend had decided to swap passwords. In hindsight, possibly not the best decision she's made, but she gave it as a gesture of good faith - not (as her boyfriend has apparently taken it) permission to rifle through her private life. When she found out the disturbing truth (and the embarrassing admission that her boyfriend had found nothing to confirm his suspicions/fears/insecurities (delete as appropriate)) she felt - to put it bluntly - pretty pissed off. Seeing my friend so upset over this got me thinking, and I asked myself: in a relationship, is jealousy ever ok?  

I'm one of those lucky people who has honestly never experienced the feeling of jealousy. I've been hurt, angered, even humiliated and scorned, but never jealous when it comes to men or relationships. I'm not saying that I don't harbour the capabilities for jealousy, or that I'm some kind of karmic saint, just that - so far - it's never been an issue in my life. When I choose to start down 'Relationship Road' with someone, it has to be with someone I trust 100%. 99.5 just won't cut it with me. I've simply had too many chats with gal pals about their untrustworthy boyfriends to not have made that a rule for myself. But before you palm me off as 'Miss High and Mighty', I have experienced jealousy from the other side - from Erin's side - a couple of times, and let me just speak for everyone when I say: jealousy sucks balls. I like to think I have quite an admirable ability to get along with my exes (for more on that topic, click here). I Skype with them, meet up for drinks, hang out with their family, and - for me, at least - it's not in the least bit weird or ulterior-motive-y. Unfortunately, new or subsequent boyfriends have not necessarily seen this as a positive thing - rather as one to 'monitor'. Being a person who has never personally experienced jealousy, it has been known to cause a rift when I've forgotten to tell them about a conversation/coffee/lunch, as it comes across like I'm trying to hide something. In my experience, jealousy has always been quite negative. It has made me feel trapped, distrusted, insecure, and angry in equal measures. Whilst I understand the reasons and emotions that lead to jealousy (Jealous Guy by John Lennon is one of my favourite songs ever), I started wondering if jealousy really is just a natural 'side-effect' of being in a relationship. So, I decided to ask some friends about it.

The Male Perspective
"Jealousy is never ok. It's the 'green eyed monster' that turns us into people we don't want to be. But it's a fact of life - it may not be ok, but we can't really stop it from happening. Sometimes a little bit of jealousy is what's needed to kickstart someone into action. This action can be good, or bad - what's important is not whether jealousy is ok or not (because jealousy happens), but rather how we handle that jealousy... A relationship is about two people; one person's feelings are directly related to the other, so the other partner should understand and do what they can to relieve that jealousy. Don't ignite it, or increase it, or - worst of all - ignore it. Often people who are victims of jealousy say it's the other person's problem and they should deal with it. I disagree. It's something that should be dealt with together, and it should be remembered that the person who has been swallowed by jealousy doesn't want to feel that way - it's not like they wake up and say "hey, I want to feel jealous today." It's an all-consuming and grappling anxiety and fear that drags you under the waves of insecurity. I don't scorn people who get jealous. I feel sorry for them. It's a horrible feeling."

"Jealousy = pure poison." [how succinct!]

The Female Perspective
"Jealousy, in the right measures, is important. It makes your partner know you care. Too much and your partner is trapped. I don't feel jealousy as I don't feel threatened by the girls that approach [my boyfriend] where as he has the opposite. I think it says a lot about a relationship."

"In the beginning of mine and my boyfriend's relationship I was extremely jealous of his ex-girlfriend. They had been together for three years and I was cross. I had no reason to be cross, but I was. Photos of the two of them were all over Facebook, and made it even harder for me to ignore her. She had had a different boyfriend for over a year, but when we started to date she kept messaging him and needed all his attention. I woulnd't say jealousy is necessarily needed in a relationship, but it naturally comes with the 'relationship' title. You never want to think that another girl is taking the attention away from you, but then you enjoy other attention once in a while from someone other than your boyfriend. It's a difficult one, but i think when you're comfortable in your relationship you tend not to think about it, because if a girl is flirting with your boyfriend, you know he is coming home with you!"

"I don't think jealousy is ok because it fundamentally means you are insecure about something, don't trust your partner and/or have low self esteem. But, let's be honest, everyone gets jealous because its part of being human. We all have little sensitivities."

"I think everyone can be jealous. I don't think it's healthy, but it is a demonstration of love, in a way. So yes, I think a relationship can work with some. It would be weird if you went drinking with your boyfriend, someone chatted you up at the bar, and he didn't say anything. [I then asked if she thought there was a difference between being protective and being jealous...] Jealousy is fearing losing what you have. It's being territorial, so yes it's being protective. I mean, stating exclusivity is basically jealousy - it's putting a mark on what's yours, because you're worried that if you don't, you may lose it to someone else. So yes, a relationship can be jealousy - it lives off it, in a weird way. However, I think balance is key - too little, you lose the boy; too much, you choke the boy to death."

So, what have I learnt? I think there are two types of jealousy. One is jealousy over issues in your relationship (going out too much, getting drunk, being friends with "ridiculously good-looking" guys/girls), which I think can be fixed. But then I think there is a jealousy that can be ingrained in someone. That no amount of assurance, love, or Facebook passwords can hope to cure. A jealousy that stems from a deep-seated insecurity or past emotional trauma that can be near impossible to erase. One person may be able to live with it, another won't. I've learned that jealousy has the power to ruin, but it also has the power to make a relationship stronger; it can be an incredibly powerful tool, if used in the right way. I've witnessed relationships who have worked through jealousy and come out of it stronger on the other side. As with everything in life, I guess it depends on you, and your situation, at that point in time... 

Do you agree?

Belle x

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