Mary sat on the couch, taut and obviously stressed, her stern eyes staring blankly into mine. “I have the right to be jealous,” she said. “I’m his wife!”
“Now what exactly did you do?”
“Nothing. I did nothing, I swear to God. I didn’t even go crazy or anything. I just asked why he spends so much time with her – his secretary, that’s all. All I did was ask. I was angry as hell but that’s all I did was ask.”
Exploring the Healthy Side of Jealousy
Excessive jealousy is as bad as they come. But so are excessive care, excessive honesty, excessive insert-pretty-much-anything. The key word here, no doubt, is excess.
But this begs the question, is there such a thing as “moderate” jealousy? Which would consequentially be the healthy side of jealousy?
Psychology Today called it a misconception that jealousy can ever be a sign of affection. Apparently jealousy is invariably more a sign of self love than it is a sign of love, and as such there can never be such a concept as the healthy side of jealousy.
To them it is a neurosis, itself a by-product of low self esteem, neuroticism, insecurity, possessiveness, dependence, inadequacy, and anxious attachment — fear that your partner will leave you or won’t love you enough.
You should realize, they said, that your partner’s jealousy isn’t about you; it’s about them.
Very well. But what the devil, then, could we mean when we wish that our spouses could show more affection by being jealous? What could Mary have meant when she said of her husband,
I just wish he was more jealous, honestly. Sometimes I flirt when he’s around to get something out of him. Nothing. He doesn’t even finch.
Could Mary possibly crave for her husband, not to show her more affection, as it may seem, but to love his own self more?
Or maybe she really wants him to have a lower self esteem? A higher amount of insecurity? Neuroticism? Posessiveness? Dependence? Inadequacy and anxious attachment?
And it wouldn’t be so bad. Would it?
Too Much Healthiness Unhealthy?
According to Psychology Today, the neurosis in a jealous relationship exclusively belongs to the jealous partner. You’re jealous because you have a low self esteem and are way too dependent.
This, of course, would mean that a partner who isn’t jealous, has a high amount of self esteem, and is at least, independent.
But aren’t there metrics to such terms? What of a partner, then, who is too independent? What of a partner who is too narcissistic? Too removed? Too uptight? Too detached, and, simply, too secured?
What if what we want when we ask of our partners to be at least just a little bit jealous is not that they shouldn’t love us, but that for our sakes, they should show a little bit more weakness?
What if we just want a little dose of insecurity on their part? What if we don’t want them to be so damn healthy all the time? What if all Mary wants is for her husband to be at least a tad anxiously attached; to show every once in a while that he is scared to lose her; that he really is worried one day she might not love him again?
And maybe she only craves that so that she in turn could reassure him, with a big fat smile, that of course not. That he’ll be hers forever and she his.
What if she just want a little bit of neurosis?
And if really the jealousy is never about you, and always about the jealous spouse, what if we do want it to be about them? Is there really anything so wrong with that?
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“Moderate” or “Healthy” or Both?
So if Mary does want her husband to be more vulnerable from time and time. If Mary admits to her own vulnerability, such as can be found in every human next door, and tries her best to stifle it, to moderate it as much as she can. If she never gets riled up or hysteric, or go out of her way to embarrass either herself or her husband, does this imply that Mary’s jealousy is moderate?
And if Mary’s jealousy is moderate. If, despite the toughness and the seeming impossibility of it all — if Mary does pull it off, and never gets irrational, but tempers the beast and only allows it drive her to more affection towards her husband, can this type of jealousy which Mary has so expertly moderated, be termed as the Healthy side of Jealousy?
The Healthy Side of Jealousy? Who Decides When It Gets Unhealthy?
Perhaps we’ve argued in favor of the term moderate jealousy, and its possibility. Perhaps such jealousy, in its constantly tempered state, can be termed as healthy. But what happens when the steam escapes confinement, and the beast gets released?
How does one even tell when its time?
A little dose of insecurity in the relationship may be fine. A little dose of dependence may be fine. But who decides when too little gets a little too much and dangerous?
What if Mary wants her husband to be at least a tad anxiously attached, but he gets more than a tad? Hell, who even decides what a tad is in the first place?
Is there Even Such a Thing?
So again the question arises, is there such a thing as the Healthy side of Jealousy, knowing well that even a moderate amount of jealousy is perhaps a seething evil about to burst?
Maybe there really is such a thing as moderate jealousy. At any rate we would like, at NLv, to believe there is. But jealousy is, and will forever remain, a wild fire. Incredibly hard to tame, and capable of destroying a million times more than it could ever build. So the best thing to do is to trust. Trust your partner, and most importantly trust yourself.
Don’t forget to check out our guide on the healthy ways to get rid of jealousy in your relationship.
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