Green Monster and jealousy
Do your insides burn when your partner talks to a member of the opposite sex? Do you check in with your partner 10 times a day to find out where they are and who they are with? Do you regularly snoop through your partner’s things (cell phone, wallet, cell purse, etc.)? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it sounds like you are doing a dance with the green-eyed monster known as jealousy.
Let it be said that a little bit of jealousy is normal. But chronic jealousy — especially when expressed to your partner — can threaten your relationship.
Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D. and his colleague, Dennis Trich, recently published a paper on jealousy for the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy. In it, they take a look at what jealousy actually is and offer ways to help people cope with jealous feelings.
According to Leahy and Trich, jealousy is a form of angry, agitated worry. A person may worry that their partner might find someone else more appealing and fear that they will be rejected. Because they feel threatened, jealousy is activated as a way to cope with this threat. Similar to worry, jealousy may be a strategy used to figure out what is “going wrong” and as a way to learn what our partner “really feels.” Jealousy acts as a defense mechanism that can actually cause a person to give up on a relationship in order to prevent getting hurt.
Unfortunately, feelings of jealousy lead most people to focus only on the negative in a relationship. As a result, many people may interpret a partner’s behavior as a loss of interest (e.g., he is yawning because I’m boring). Jealousy also leads us to take things personally and interpret normal behavior as something negative (e.g., she’s getting dressed up to attract other guys).
Jealousy can be an adaptive emotion. Leahy and Trich believe that jealousy may be triggered by different factors in different cultures, but jealousy is a universal emotion.