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Home | Sex, love and partnership | Jealousy - Monster with dangerous passion

Jealousy - Monster with dangerous passion

It is one of the most fascinating and horrifying of human emotions. It is an emotion that can drive a woman to obsessive vigilance, or a man to reckless violence. Often it is a reason for divorce of the marriages, illness or some other kind of pathology, domestic violence, homicide, and sometimes even a war.

All close relationships develop boundaries: implicit or explicit delineation of acceptable and unacceptable activities. One type of violation of relationship boundaries occurs when third person represents an intrusion into the primary relationship. On occasion, an intrusion, or suspected intrusion, or possible intrusion, is viewed as interfering with the nature of the primary relationship and it results in emotional upset. This is jealousy. Pain, fear, confusion, suspicion, sorrow, injured pride and fear of abandonment that accompany jealousy make it dangerous passion in the human emotional landscape.

Whenever jealousy is talked about it's usually in reference to romantic relationships. Since sociologically jealousy is a social relation, it abounds in all sorts of contexts in our society, too. According to sociologists being jealous is not an innate characteristic of humans, but rather, a learned response to structural and institutional arrangements involving monogamy, marriage, and ownership of property, specifically, sexual ownership of women by men. In our culture there are a lot of myths and illusions about jealousy, such as "Jealousy is the result of love"; "Proof of love"; “Sign of personal failure”; ”Great sexual energizer”. In fact and in the most of the cases jealousy is the outward manifestation of a troubled relationship and a lack of self-respect.

In actuality, jealousy is quite difficult to define succinctly. According to many psychologists jealousy is a complex human emotion that is provoked by a perceived threat to an exclusive dyadic relationship. Although the emotional experience of jealousy may involve varying degrees of sadness, anger, and anxiety, many psychologists have defined it globally as the sense of "distress" or "discomfort" experienced over a partner's real or imagined involvement with another. Manu scientific researches show that men express greater sexual jealousy - distress over sharing their partners' sexual attention - than women, women express greater emotional jealousy - distress over sharing their partners' love than men. Anthropologist Margaret Mead defines jealousy as “undesirable, a festering spot in every personality so afflicted, an ineffective negativistic attitude which is more likely to lose than to gain any goal”. Shakespeare in his famous tragedy “Othello” calls it “green-eyed monster”.  Kathy Labriola, one of the leading advocates of polyamory sees it as “the biggest obstacle to creating successful and satisfying open relationship”.
ImageAccording to Zen Buddhists jealousy is the dragon in paradise; the hell of heaven; and the most bitter of all emotions. Social scientist Jan Wagner thinks that jealousy destroys freedom, supports the institution of monogamy and undermines living in the present. Spiritual and tantric master A.A. Makaja simply says that jealousy kills love. “A very simple natural drive that cats and dogs also have, we raise to the level love, parental love or the love children have for their parents, etc. And in fact, it is only the drive to continue the species, the sexual drive. When the hormones are in action, the man has an erection and loves his girlfriend very much. He says: “O, I love you.” If he loves her, why is he angry if she loves someone else? Is this love or lust? Male animals attack other males for this” wrote Makaja in his book “Eros and Logos- The Book for Saints and Sinners”.

In psychology studies of jealousy there are a different types of jealousy. One typology of jealousy, while probably not exhaustive, illustrates the multidimensional nature of jealousy, dividing it on possessive, exclusion, competition, egotism, and fear jealousy type. Possessive jealousy is premised on the perception that someone else is an extension of your own life. Therefore, a "hoarding orientation" to life is dominant here, a feeling that one possesses another and that one cannot be "who they are" without them.
Exclusion jealousy type is premised on the feeling that one is being left out or shut out from something another is/or will be experiencing. Also, the belief that someone else has or will have an "advantage" is very strong in this type. Competition jealousy premised on a "marketing orientation" to life, involves demonstrating to others that you have desirable characteristics. Egotism jealousy type involves denying to another any freedom from role stereotypes, based upon one's own needs for identity and sense of worth. Lastly, fear jealousy type is based on the feeling of insecurity about losing control of another or actually losing the other that they will abandon you when ‘something better’ comes.

Embedded in the fabric of jealousy are two fundamental values: the desire to be liked and the desire for self-integrity. When jealousy occurs, these two values are threatened. The emotional energy realised by jealousy is a struggle between these two crucial values. The need to preserve one domain threatens the existence of the other. It is very nice illustrated in the following sentences of the famous feminists Emma Goldman: "All lovers do well to leave the doors of their love wide open. When love can go and come without fear of meeting a watchdog, jealousy will rarely take root because it will soon learn that where there are no locks and keys there is no place for suspicion and distrust, two elements upon which jealousy thrives and prospers."

From my own experience as a jealous person at some periods of my life, I've settled on my definition of: so painful, yet so unavoidable, compelling and powerful emotion, accompanied with unpleasant fear, suspicion, rage or resentment arising from mistrust of another. The less I am imbued with a great love the more violent and contemptible is my jealousy. My jealousy is a result of my dominance, possessiveness and lack of love and self-discipline. It’s almost always burdened by the questions ‘Am I not sufficient to him?’ ‘Does he really love me?’ ‘What shell I do to attract his attention again towards me?’ and numerous stupid ideas and thoughts focus on searching guilty in my partner and blaming “the new girl” and external circumstances.     But, through my spiritual and tantric schooling and with support of my spiritual master, by the help and understanding of my long-lasting partner, and thank to my willpower and training in unconditional love I have learned another emotion, opposite of jealousy. It is ‘compersion’ or in Croatian language ‘ljubodarnost’ (giving love as a gift)- expressing happiness and love when my partner is in love with another woman. Sharing my personal experience about this emotion will be the topic of my next text in the following edition of “Sexpresso”. Or maybe, to discover why Sting sings, “Every breath you take I’ll be watching you”, but also why he has written the song “If you love somebody set him free”.
The knowledge that comes with a deeper understanding of our dangerous passion will not eliminate conflicts between lovers, between rivals or between lovers who become rivals. But, in small measure give us the emotional wisdom to deal with it. The dilemma is simple: “In what way do I compromise ‘me’ for the maintenance of ‘we’, or sacrifice ‘we’ for the preservation of ‘me’?”

(To be continued...)



writter by Rimini B. Sazdanovska