Jealousy can destroy a relationship and can stem from a combination of factors, from insecurity and a lack of emotional intimacy, to unresolved issues from a previous relationship, says founder of elite dating agency Seventy Thirty, Susie Ambrose. Identifying the source of the jealousy will get you back on the road to positivity and make current or future relationships work
‘Plain women are always jealous of their husbands. Beautiful women never are. They are always occupied with being jealous of other women’s husbands’ — Oscar Wilde.
Evolutionary psychology has shown us that men and women value different characteristics in partner. Men value physical attractiveness because a woman’s physical attractiveness is related to her fertility, whereas women value dominance in men as it’s related to a man’s ability to provide resources.
Like many emotional adaptations, jealousy is a flawed and often exaggerated call to arms. That’s because the human lifespan was much shorter than it is now. Evolutionary psychologists and anthropologists believe our ancestors rarely got a chance to woo a mate — they succeeded in acquiring mates long enough to procreate, but those who couldn’t are ancestors to no one. It makes sense that humans developed jealousy as a built-in infidelity-detection system in this competitive social cauldron.
What causes jealousy?
A person with low self-esteem may view themselves as less competitive than they really are among a same-sex group. In extreme situations, they may feel so undeserving of being loved that they can’t believe their spouse could possibly remain faithful. Feelings of insecurity may stem from low-esteem or may be related to instances in which we have previously been hurt. A fear of vulnerability is the inability to let our guard down and let another person know us completely. Distrust, uncertainly and loneliness can also contribute to feelings of jealousy.
How do you stop jealousy?
Make an effort to no longer engage in self-defeating behaviour. If you’re questioning or making accusations, stop immediately, whether you literally need to bite your tongue, go to another room or talk to a friend. Engaging in self-defeating behaviour is usually because it’s reassuring and makes you feel better, but remind yourself that feeling better is just temporary and that destructive behaviour must stop.
Frequently challenge your irrational thinking style — on closer inspection, it may be more obvious to you that there is no reason to be jealous, or that there is evidence to the contrary such as loving things your partner does for you.
Work on improving your self-esteem. Remember that jealousy is not about others but about you — use the presence of jealous feelings to remind yourself that you need to focus on giving yourself positive self-statements and engage in behaviours that make you feel good about yourself.
Learn to be vulnerable and develop emotional intimacy. For a relationship to be successful, you need to take risks, and there are many ways to do this. For instance, if you feel insecure, you should share these feelings with your partner and talk about ways they can help you feel more secure. Or, if you’re afraid of being vulnerable, try to share these worries with your partner.
Establishing where jealousy comes from will give you the self-awareness to halt any destructive behaviour in the future.
For more information, visit Seventy Thirty