The "Jealousy Predicament" Is Quite The Conundrum
Author Ayala Malach Pines writes: "Jealousy is the shadow of love," and we couldn't agree more. Without love first, there can be no betrayal.
Esther Perel, sex and relationship expert and our personal guru, has a fresh perspective on this all-consuming emotion. As she writes in her book The State of Affairs, "Jealousy can go too far, undermining us and leading to aggression. But in other cases, it may in fact be the last glowing embers in an otherwise burned-out relationship - and therefore, it is also the means of relighting the fire." In other words, some jealousy might be more than okay, it might be useful. But be careful... too much of it will burn your house down.
Jealousy: How Much Is Too Much?
The aftermath of broken trust can feel like someone's put a magnifying glass on your relationship. If you or your partner were possessive and jealous before the event, you could each now feel that your suspicions were confirmed and become even more paranoid. If you weren't jealous before, you may feel the need to ignore the feeling like it's something to be ashamed of. Perel encourages you to feel your natural responses instead of burying them, like one of her subjects who refused to acknowledge his jealousy. When she brought his attention to it, he said: "Me? Jealous? Never! I'm just angry!" Anger is understandable, and so is jealousy. The worst thing you can do is to try and pretend like they aren't there.
However, there is a fine line between productive jealousy and destructive jealousy. That's when it turns to obsession. Obsessions don't always focus on the "other person," although that's common: jealousy can lead to an obsession over timing (When did this start? How long has it been going on?) or comparisons, or simply a thirst for information. If your quest for information is fueled by jealousy, nothing will ever be enough.
But here are a few things to remember:
- It's completely normal to feel jealous after losing trust
- There's a big difference between destructive and productive jealousy
- Processing your own jealousy and analyzing your reasons behind it is necessary to moving forward in a healthy, secure relationship
At the end of the day, jealousy makes each of us vulnerable. And if you have recently been hurt, the last thing you want to do is be vulnerable in front of your partner. But Perel says that giving yourself permission to really feel jealousy, and eventually let it go, will save you months of pain. "To acknowledge jealousy is to admit love, competition, and comparison - all of which expose vulnerability." And vulnerability is how you get trust to grow.