Jealousy - healthy or unhealthy, in the context of a relationship?



Apr 30, 2008 5:52pm

In various WTF reports I have exchanged the one question that repeatedly shows up is the jealousy one. How can jealousy be a good thing in a relationship?


Apr 30, 2008 6:01pm

Jealousy usually means the end of a relationship as all it does is cause problems.


Apr 30, 2008 6:04pm

I think a certain amount of jealousy is normal and to be expected.  It would be a major red flag for me if I or the a guy I was dating didn't have any feelings of jealousy at appropriate times.  The important thing is how you handle jealousy.  You should acknowledge the jealousy but not let it run you or the relationship.  You can't make unreasonable demands such as your significant other giving up their friends or never being able to go out without you.


Apr 30, 2008 6:10pm

some people get off on having a possessive lover.  i am not one of those people.


Apr 30, 2008 8:11pm

Emerald52781 when is an appropriate time to be jealous? And how should someone acknowledge and handle their jealousy?



May 4, 2008 12:55pm

It's a common thing for couples to go to a psychologist, and the guy says he's having difficulties with feelings of jealously, verging on paranoia, and it's ruining their relationship. He keeping thinking his wife is cheating on him, but she says she isn't, so there must be something wrong with him. So the psycholgist has a one to one with each of them. The husband goings into the other room, and the psychologist asks the wife, "Are you having an affair?". More often than not, she says "Yes".

Sometimes our instincts know things our conscious minds just don't get.


May 4, 2008 2:00pm

That and overprotective, hyperjealous people can push their partner into having an affair anyway. 


May 4, 2008 2:00pm

My last girlfriend was jealous of every female I ever knew, and didn't want me to spend any time with any girls when she wasn't around (which was most of the time, it was a Long Distance Relationship), apparently convinsed that if I went to a friend's house to play D&D and one of the people in the group was a girl, it meant that I was cheating on her.


May 4, 2008 2:03pm

It's weird, I've heard repeatedly (from real friends, not hearsay) examples of girls who feel that their man is not jealous enough .

Apparently we use the word "jealous" with a positive connotation here, a la "the LORD, whose name is Jealous , is a jealous God."

I am on the extreme end of "more trusting," so this could well be holding me back! But, hey you just have to search for someone who's laid-back like you.


May 4, 2008 2:07pm

A little jealous might not be a bad thing.  It can inspire people to better themselves. 

Find out "What's he got that I don't have?"  Then you can work to improve in that area.


May 4, 2008 2:21pm

It's weird, I've heard repeatedly (from real friends, not hearsay) examples of girls who feel that their man is not jealous enough .

Yeah, I think a fair few women (and many men, though I think less as a proportion) are like that.  It's usually some mixture of attention-seeking, egotism and insecurity.


May 6, 2008 9:43am

It's extremely unhealthy.  But your question was "How can it be healthy", so I'll try that...


It could be 'healthy' in that someone with issues would likely feel more comfortable if their partner had issues as well.


It could be 'healthy' if one or more people in the relationship enjoys drama.  Yes, girls sometimes feel their man is not jealous enough, and this is simply a drama-craving.


Jun 11, 2008 7:27pm

Jealousy is a normal human emotion. I think that the answer to this question needs to be expanded though. What happened to create the jealousy? Was it simply someone looking at your significant other? Or was it that you significant other had an affair with someone? So, context has a big factor.

The other major factor, in my opinion, is the reaction to the emotion. How does the person handle the jealousy they feel? Do they handle it in a healthy way? Or an unhealthy way? I think that is most important. Just as anger is a healthy and normal emotion, the same things do not make everyone angry and everyone handles their anger differently. Some in a healthy manner and others in an unhealthy way.


Jun 11, 2008 7:34pm

Terrible. But necessary.


Jun 12, 2008 6:23am

"Jealousy is a normal human emotion."


True, but it's never a healthy human emotion.  Jealousy is a secondary emotion, it's always based on some other emotion.  Now, the other emotion tends to also be a normal emotion, and the base emotion can be dealt with and understood.  A secondary emotion like jealosy is by default unhealthy because it masks the primary emotion.


Jun 12, 2008 6:58am

imo jealosy is unhealthy, period

in a relationship I place 100% trust on the woman I am with, and I don't really care if in a party she goes and talks to 10 other guys. I know she likes to talk and nothing else will happen... and if she or I  change our mind about our current relationship I trust we will talk about it and part ways if that seems fit.

Find out "What's he got that I don't have?"  Then you can work to improve in that area.

I am myself, and I like who I am. I not going to be comparing myself w/every Tom n John my gf is talking to. It would be exhausting to try to "better up" 3 billion males out there.


Jun 12, 2008 8:14am

RandomGod, did you ever read Antonio Damasio on emotions? If not, I think you two have a match. ;-)

As for the question, no. There are people who find jealousy, headgames and drama a needed reinforcement of their worth in a relationship. I'm not one of them.


Jun 12, 2008 8:48am

Of course its healthy to be jealous, it shows you care.  That you don't let it affect you, that you don't stop the person from doing what they want, thats called maturity.  If someone uses their jealousy to bind and gag you, thats abuse.  All emotions are healthy, they are telling you something important.  Its how you react to them that defines if you are in a healthy or unhealthy relationship.


Jun 12, 2008 9:33am

Jealousy strikes me as generally normal and innocuous. Is a jealous puppy being unhealthy, terrible, untrusting? I don't see it. It just wants attention. Who knows, maybe it's feeling a little vulnerable. Hey, I've been there.

I'd be wary of someone who either wasn't jealous from time to time or didn't own up to it. Having no jealousy is not trust; its indifference. Feeling it but not owning up to it just screams: "x has issues!" If those are healthy, go for it.

If you've honestly never been in a situation that justifies jealousy: excellent. Hope that lasts. Some people experience jealousy as a relative's drunken rage, and probably think all jealousy is just a gateway to that kind of destruction. I don't. I was raised to view it as part-sin (religious school) and part-bourgeois conceit (Marxist family), and personally find all that childhood propaganda bunk. People (myself included) have committed far worse pecadillos against partners trying to suppress and avoid jealousy than in just getting over it and -- heaven forbid -- actually having fun with it.


Jul 10, 2008 12:11pm

Emotions aren't healthy or unhealthy.  They just *are*.  You can feel whatever you want, and it's ok.  

What is unhealthy is some of the *behavior* that comes from jealousy.  Temper tantrums, attempting to restrict the other's behaviors, etc, and of course abuse, are all unacceptable.

It's ok to *feel* jealousy though.  Often people are jealous because they sense a lack of investment or honesty from the other person.

The only times I've been jealous, even though I didn't make a big deal about it, it ended up being prophetic.  I had a dream a boyfriend cheated on me.  And eventually, he did.  He started seeing someone before we'd broken it off.  He's the only one who did something like that.  Henry is absolutely right.  People are built with very sensitive cheating detectors.

Stating upfront that jealousy is unhealthy usually means that if it arises in a relationship, the jealous person won't feel safe to discuss it.  If a person voices their feelings of jealousy in a reasonable way, it's an opportunity for the other person to do something to make their partner feel more wanted.  Treating a jealous partner like they're psycho because they have jealous feelings is deeply dysfunctional.

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