Jealousy is often considered a petty, pathetic, low, and even unhealthy feeling. And yet, it is a significant part of romantic experiences. We present a study of this passion, which is so often unfairly despised.
“When I started to keep tabs on my beloved woman, I kept asking myself all the time if I was going insane,” recalls 49-year-old Leonid. “One evening, her phone rang on the table, and I saw a very tender message appear on it, signed by the name of a scoundrel who, as I saw, was hanging around Marina at several social gatherings. I was consumed by cold rage.
That same evening, I demanded an explanation from her – she confessed that she had flirted with him, but nothing more.
My suspicions didn’t leave me. I went very far. As soon as she left the room, I was looking through her messages, then hacked her email. Their affair continued. One Saturday morning, she told me she was going to the hairdresser. I followed her, convinced she was going to her lover. The hair salon was closed. She turned back, and I had to hide so she wouldn’t notice me.”
But the story didn’t end there. One evening, Leonid discovered an email in the computer in which Marina arranged a meeting with the same man. When she returned, he demanded that she never meet his rival again. “She looked frightened. The next day, when I checked her mail, I saw that she had canceled the date.” With this story, Leonid claims, his jealousy was over.
In most cases, jealousy outbursts are neither delusions nor hallucinations. Rather, it is a clarification of consciousness, a sign of the penetration of reality into love’s delirium. Chance letters, phone calls, or messages suddenly awaken doubts, shattering the illusion that we are the only object of our partner’s desire.
“Jealousy shows the inadequacy of the belief that we are loved just for who we are,” explains psychoanalyst Roland Gori. “It makes us doubt that we can be everything for our partner, just as they are everything for us. It’s a saving grace because it protects us from narcissism. And even though it may sometimes take a paranoid form, jealousy shifts the focus of attention onto the partner, who may not be fully taken into account by our love attraction.”
Jealousy dispels the fantasy that two people can become one. It reminds us of the existence of other people. In contrast to vanity and self-satisfaction, it brings doubts, vulnerability, hurts our self-esteem. That’s why jealousy doesn’t have the best reputation, it’s considered shameful and even “indecent,” as writer Julia Siss notes: it shatters the illusions of modern people who are “swollen with self-love, in a word – arrogant.”
However, the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, was not mistaken in considering jealousy inevitable, as it is inherent in human nature.
“Don’t believe lovers who say they don’t suffer from jealousy,” he wrote in his book “Introduction to Psychoanalysis.” They simply repress it, and this repression gives it “all the more importance” for our unconscious life.
Olga, 43, tells about the destructive consequences of such repression: “Whenever some guy approached me at a party, my ex-husband froze. On the way home, he scolded and reproached me, and at home, he pounced on me like a hungry animal. But he never admitted that he was jealous, even though it was obvious that he was tormented. I think he didn’t fully understand what was happening to him, even though he was very intelligent.”
Julia Siss calls this all-consuming jealousy “erotic rage” and reminds us that in ancient Greece it was considered a “noble passion worthy of gods, warriors, and queens.”
What do we demand from a person consumed by jealousy? Calmness, self-control. But love and tranquility are incompatible. And attempts to ignore it are futile. “By suppressing jealousy in oneself, you cannot cope with it, since jealousy is a symptom, not a cause,” says gestalt therapist Ilya Latypov. “It’s like suppressing a fever instead of treating the disease.”
When a voice that troubles us becomes velvety for someone else, the pain is so great that if it is not calmed down, it may lead to breaking dishes.
It is better to whisper to your loved one, “Yes, I am jealous, please don’t look at all the beautiful women passing by on the street. It hurts me.”
35-year-old Oksana admits that she worries if she doesn’t feel any jealousy: “I ask myself if I really love him. I need to make sure that the man I desire is worthy of desire. When I feel that beautiful, striking women are looking at him, I am overwhelmed with both anger and desire.” She believes that her current partner is too faithful to her and absorbed in his work. She does not feel that other women are attracted to him or desire him and complains that their relationship has become too dull.
“TRUST MAKES JEALOUSY MEANINGLESS”
Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Actress Jealousy is a natural feeling, but it is more characteristic of young people who live in fantasies of passionate romantic love. I can’t imagine a girl who loves and doesn’t demand anything in return.
I was also jealous in my youth, when everything was too bright, too upfront. Jealousy could be triggered by anything: not calling, not showing up, not congratulating, not looking… I was fixated on my offense, could cry, reproach, and clarify our relationship. And I blamed everything on the other person: “You are to blame for me feeling bad!”
And now I understand what a terrible mistake it is. You need to trust your partner if you want him to feel good next to you. In family life, everything is different for me: I will never invade my beloved husband’s personal space. Because I know that I need time and space myself. Home is a place that we perceive as only ours, inviolable for others. And this feeling of confidence in each other and the strength of our relationship makes jealousy meaningless.
I allow myself to flirt, I like to behave openly and naturally with men, but I never send them a sexual impulse. And my husband is close to this position: we have a similar view of life and family.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH THREE PARTICIPANTS
“Jealousy is inseparable from desire. We need our partner to show us what attracts them,” confirms Roland Gorée. Do we really choose the object of our desire ourselves? Often, we are attracted to someone who arouses desire in others. And so, there is an invisible third party present in the relationship. Jealousy is all the stronger the closer the rival is to us, either in appearance or in character. Moreover, we often attribute qualities and virtues to them that we ourselves believe they lack.
“Not being particularly beautiful, I could guess that someone else had been preferred to me…and when it first became evident to me that I had lost, I was desperate. I bit the sheets I was wrapped in, crying,” writes Catherine Millet in her novel “Jealousy”.
And although she, a free woman and the author of “The Sexual Life of Catherine M.”, openly supported extramarital affairs with the writer and photographer Jacques Henric, this did not diminish her suffering when she discovered that he too had had adventures: “In my fantasies, I stopped being the center of his sexual pleasures, remaining only a spectator.” A chasm opened up: she was not the only object of her beloved’s desire.
Desire is only a moment. It shines on lovers, but does not remain in place, even where there is love.
“There is something dizzying about this when we realize that another person is, as Marcel Proust wrote in ‘Under the Shadow of Girls in Bloom’, ‘a house full of treasures’. But knowing that love is the desire for desire, we can become desirable to another person again. And by doing so, we can alleviate and sublimate the pain of jealousy.”