Friday, November 20, 2015

Jealousy is often really about you

I was listening to an interesting podcast at The Art of Charm about retroactive jealousy. That is when you get jealous of your girlfriend's or wife's past partner.* If you have any reason to believe that that applies to you, check out the podcast.

What interests me here, however, is how the case of retroactive jealousy allows us to see in particularly clear light that a large component of all jealousy it is really about you. It stands out in this case because you don't typically know much about this person you're jealous about. In some cases, you've never met them and, even if you did, it was probably a limited and strained conversation. So the jealousy you feel about this person is mostly your insecurities projected onto them.

It's perfectly normal to feel a little doubt at the start of a relationship but that should fade over time. But if you still feel jealous about someone's ex months or years into a relationship there is a problem. When that happens, it is your insecurity, your sense of being an impostor that is at work. And the solution is to work on yourself. Self-love is crucial. Yes, it can be overdone but I am convinced that there are far more people who are suffering from a lack of self-love than an excess of it in this world. You cannot love anyone else, not even God, if you cannot love yourself.

In a small number of cases you can be consumed with jealousy and unable to see it because it feels like you have lots of objective evidence to confirm it. The jealousy you feel, instead of the anger you ought to feel, is really driven by your fear of leaving her. You think there is something wrong with you, that you only lucked into getting this woman to be with you, that you'll be all alone forever if you dump her. And that is blinding you. You can't see that she is the problem and that the sooner you get rid of this selfish jerk who is sucking all the energy out you, the happier you will be.

* I'm a man and unapologetically write as one. You can always reverse this and apply it the other way if you are a woman or gay or lesbian. That would require some adjustments because there are huge differences between men and women. 

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