Relationships

Fighting the green-eyed monster

The key to analyzing jealousy lies in figuring out whether it’s justified or just ‘in your head’

Special to The TribuneFebruary 4, 2014 

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WES KILLINGBECK — KRT

Jealousy is a complex emotion that arises from a perceived threat to a romantic relationship. It’s characterized by an overwhelming fear of losing someone you love.

Jealous people become suspicious of their partners’ actions and motives, often resorting to extreme and bizarre measures, such as checking cellphone records or hacking into email accounts.

Jealousy leads to low self-esteem and bouts of anxiety and depression. Sufferers are uncertain about their futures. They feel lonely and abandoned.

Jealous types often describe themselves as having “trust issues.” They believe humans are inherently deceitful. This perception especially applies to the opposite gender, where such ideas are held without question.

It’s understandable why some people feel jealous. They may have been abandoned as children, learning early that dearest love objects could willingly cast them aside. One parent may have cheated on another. Or perhaps an adult frequently told them, “What can you expect from a man?”

Other folks chronically make poor choices and select mates with character flaws.

Still other jealous people have psychological problems. They are inherently insecure. They’re overly dependent on their relationships. They feel unworthy and inadequate.

While most of us view jealousy as a negative state, researchers believe it has a positive evolutionary role. According to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, research professor in the department of anthropology at Rutgers University, jealousy “discouraged desertion by a mate, bolstering the family unit and enabling the survival of the young. At the same time, it has pushed us to abandon philanderers — and many a futile match — in favor of more stable and rewarding partnerships.”

It may even serve to strengthen the relationship. Dr. Fisher says, “One partner may feel secretly flattered when the other is mildly jealous. And catching someone flirting with your beloved can spark the kind of lust and romance that reignites a relationship.”

Good or bad, jealousy is part of the human condition. The key lies in determining whether your actions are justified or just “in your head.”

If your suspicions are warranted and you’re involved with a cheat, you may need to end things ASAP. On the other hand, if you’re with a stable, committed keeper, you’ll want to quiet your psychic drama and appreciate what you have.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE A JEALOUS PERSON

• Get control of your emotions. Yelling, raging and wild accusations never help any situation. If you feel your partner is being unfaithful, use a calm and logical approach. You’ll get more cooperation from your partner. You’ll be more clear-headed about your options.

• Analyze why you’re jealous. Do you have evidence your partner is being unfaithful? Is your wife spending too much time at work? Do you inevitably become anxious when a relationship gets serious? Scrutinize the source of your feelings so you can lay out the best course of action.

• Ask for others’ perceptions. Check in with your family, friends and co-workers. Do they agree with your assessment? Can they add more info of their own? Their insight is invaluable. Plus they want the best for you.

• Boost your self-esteem. You’re more vulnerable to jealousy if your self-worth’s in the tank. Embark on a campaign to improve your mind set. Start jogging with a friend. Try a sassy new hairstyle. Leave a dead-end job. Quit drinking six-packs after work. You’ll immediately feel better. You’ll be more rational, too.

• Make changes in your relationship. The jealousy is a signal that something’s gone awry. Maybe you’ve been ignoring your marriage. Or your boyfriend’s reconnected with his ex. Whatever the problem, it’s time to face it — even if it’s not what you want.

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