Jealousy — a term with a bad rap could be a natural instinct in how we maintain healthy relationships.
Me bringing this topic up in this column came from a video I watched where a wife noticed on social media women complaining about seeing their significant other hitting the “like” button on women’s photos that were posted. She confronted her husband to ask if he was doing the same even though she saw nothing of the sort in their years of being married. The husband explored her concern with her and explained that he had no reason to and that he did not understand why men do that and that if men did not want to, then they wouldn’t.
So, I appreciate this kind of dialogue in relationships because I feel the notion one feels, such as jealousy, is a valid emotion that draws attention to something that needs to be remedied. Whether it is something that is true or not, it is always healthy to need that reassurance. I know everyone thinks that jealousy is toxic and destructive in relationships, but to be fair, not confronting the problems is just as painful.
In my opinion, jealousy is natural and is not to be confused with paranoia which is a diagnosis of a mental condition. Jealousy has a negative connotation to it that is a blanket term to use in any dispute a couple gets into. Jealousy is fine because it is a reassuring factor that we care about someone and the relationship, much like we care that we have to have that hug or kiss when we greet or say goodbye. When we don’t get those subtle cues, then we get concerned that something is wrong. All it takes is a simple understanding of how the other feels.
I guess I understood this after my last serious relationship in 2013 when I came back from living in Germany right after getting out of the Army. I was going to film school at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, and I had brought along my girlfriend at the time to live with me for a few months until her visa expired. I would receive numerous texts where I did not respond and would often go out to lunch or places without telling her when I had a break from school. There were also times when I would befriend women I met at school without considering how the one woman I loved in my life felt. Coming home was a constant interrogation and lack of trust, and you know what, I was in the wrong for allowing that perspective.
I could have done better by accommodating the needs of someone who really cared about us and our relationship. Her reasoning to know if I was OK and not getting into trouble was valid and healthy. The tension grew too great, and we just had a falling out. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but one that must be learned to become, in my case, a better man and to listen and be understanding of the needs of others — especially if they love you. Even if it was painful, and took years to get over.
Yes, too much jealousy can be dangerous as anything else that comes naturally to us, such as eating too much. But I think we downplay jealousy too much to appreciate the value it has in our life. I will reiterate what I’ve explained before — I don’t believe jealousy to be insecurity but something you do out of respect for your significant other. And that’s not to say other couples have their own ways and just don’t like even an ounce of jealousy, but others are OK with it. My point is that relationships are meant to be unique and ritualistic and that nobody should be afraid to set standards that border on jealousy if it means protecting that relationship.
Sometimes we have to swallow our pride and surrender our emotions to prove our love for a loved one.
News Editor Richard Holm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-410-7054.
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