Where does jealousy come from, and why do we experience it in romantic relationships?
There are various theories on exactly what jealousy is to begin with. Some say it is a kind of fear, others agitation, others grief. No matter where jealousy comes from, we know it when we feel it. If your relationship needs an open, fair platform for open communication, contact Caree Brown today. As a licensed psychotherapist that offers couples therapy, Caree has acquired 40 years of experience in helping those in need.
The Traditional Evolutionary Psychology Model of Jealousy
In the evolutionary model, jealousy is an inherited response that historically increased our chances of survival.
Men get jealous in response primarily to sexual threats to their relationship. The reasoning behind this is that if our male ancestors could be sure they were the genetic fathers of the children they raised, they knew their DNA would be passed on.
Women get jealous primarily in response to emotional threats to their relationship because only if they had someone who provided food to their children would their children survive. Having their children survive increased the chance that their DNA would get passed on.
Over millions of years this pattern gave rise to men with a sexual jealousy gene and women with an emotional jealousy gene.
What’s Wrong with This Model
One problem with the Traditional Evolutionary Psychology Model is that jealousy is not expressed equally in all cultures. So, even if there is a genetic root, there is obviously also a strong social component as well.
What’s Right with This Model
What is most likely right about the Traditional Evolutionary Psychology Model is that jealousy is evolutionary in nature, and that it is a response to the threat of losing one’s partner.
The further factor, which is cultural, is the tendency to consider our partner our sexual and emotional property which provides us with exclusive rights to sex and intimacy with them.
The Fear Response
If jealousy is a response to the threat of losing one’s partner, what sort of response is it?
We might argue that it is a fear response. However, if your partner is dying of a terminal illness, you may experience fear of losing them, but you won’t experience jealousy.
Another, better suggestion, is that jealousy is fear in response to the threat of losing one’s partner to another person. When sufficiently intense, this sort of response can trigger feelings of disgust, sadness, and/or rage.
Jealousy After Losing a Partner to Someone Else
There is one scenario that our description of jealousy does not account for: we often experience jealousy long after knowing we have lost a romantic or sexual partner to someone else.
In these cases, it doesn’t make sense to say jealousy is a response to the fear of losing our partner.
In some cases, your response may be grief. In other cases, it may have to do with being treated unfairly.
Effective Strategies to Handle Jealousy
If you’re feeling anger, insecurity, and jealousy, the best thing is to express this to the other person. Remember to keep calm and keep in mind that how you view things may not be the whole story.
Manage Your Stress
Stress and anxiety can be big factors in feelings of jealousy, so make sure you counteract these with stress management strategies. Exercise, meditation, eating well, and anything that supports your mental and physical well-being will help fight against all forms of negative emotion.
Ask for Reassurance
But don’t overdo it. If they are understanding, the other person will do what they can to make you feel a bit more secure. Cultivate a feeling of openness that will encourage a sense of relief and trust between you.
Ask Yourself ‘Is This Relationship Really for Me?’
If you constantly need reassurance from another person, then it might be a red flag that this isn’t a healthy relationship for either of you. There are sometimes reasons why you feel jealous. Don’t dismiss your gut feeling, but make sure you make your decisions with a clear and healthy mind.
Get to the Root of Jealousy
Don’t compare yourself to others
Remember that your self-esteem takes a dive when you start comparing yourself to your ‘rivals’ and most of the time it is only self-created rivalry.
Question your negative thoughts
Always be conscious of your negative thought patterns. Whenever they arise ask yourself why this is and try to replace them with better-feeling thoughts.
Remind yourself that you deserve affection
You are worthy no matter what and understanding this will go towards being centered within yourself. Practice self-love and think you are enough as you are, and you will experience a shift in awareness. Your emotions will be more stable, and you will realize you deserve affection and love.
For Caree Brown LCSW, her work is her calling. But Caree does not feel that therapy needs to be a lengthy process – her clients are often surprised to resolve their issues much faster than they initially expected. Caree councils individuals, couples, and families to make life changes. She has offices in Walnut Creek and Rockridge, CA. Contact Caree Brown today!