Monday, August 2, 2010

Jealousy is Not the Same Thing as Love

I stumbled this article, and felt the need to add my own comment to the issue.

I've been in enough relationships at this point in my life to have a good idea of what I like and what I don't like in men. I've tried dating different types of men, some of whom are on complete opposite ends of some spectrums. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what made some relationships work and what made others fail. Through these introspections, I gain understanding not just of relationships, but of myself as well.

Jealousy is an oft misunderstood emotion. The idea is that a jealous boyfriend or girlfriend is someone who "cares." If they weren't jealous, then obviously they're not that in to you, right? Telling you that they don't like it when you hang out with someone of the opposite gender means that they love you so much they can't bear the thought of losing you to someone else. They hate that someone else may think of you in a sexual way. They want to protect you.

It's a lie. It's all a lie.

Jealousy is not an indication of love. Maybe the perpetrator thinks it is, I'm not saying they're intentionally lying about what they think they feel. But jealousy is not love.

I'm usually very careful about this kind of relationship talk. Different routines, different expressions, different behaviors can be lots of things to different people, but I feel that this is one of those few instances that is a universal truth for everyone. People are individuals, and therefore people should be independent at least to a very basic extent. People are not meant to be controlled, no matter the gender. Jealousy is not an emotion of love, it's an emotion of control. If you can feel the same emotion about objects, it's not love.

I've been with guys who were incapable of jealousy, and I've been with guys who got nervous whenever I hung out with a male friend. The first time I was with the "jealous" type, I admit, it was a nice change. It was an outward expression of how much I meant to them, at least I thought. They care about me, they care about what I was doing, and they wanted to be reassured that they were the only guy I wanted to be with.

It was great when I was in high school, but then I grew up.

Now my life as an individual is fiercely important to me. No one can tell me what to do, and I don't ever want to be with a guy who does. It created an unhealthy mindset in me when I was with a jealous guy. I was always afraid that what I was doing was going to upset him. Having male friends, wearing certain clothes, hanging out with certain people, it all stressed me out. A relationship that makes someone feel that way is not a good one. Feeling like I had to dramatically change myself was not good. A guy who let's me do what I want loves me, because to love me is to respect me. There is no respect in jealousy, only primal fears and a desire to control. Love manifests itself in many ways, but I firmly believe that jealousy is not one of them.

Jealousy is about trying to change someone, about trying to make their behavior what you want it to be. Love is about wanting the person to be exactly who they are. I'm starting to ramble now, so here's a quote from Joss Whedon who is far more eloquent than I:

“When I say, "I love you," it's not because I want you or because I can't have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I've seen your kindness and your strength. I've seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You're a hell of a woman.”


  1. I rather enjoyed that article. I agree with just about everything he said, although there are a couple things I'm a little skeptical of. He constantly makes statements along the lines of, "Accepting the jealous requests can often be harmful.... or deadly." In just about every paragraph he included a comment about how this is a dangerous mode of thought, but he never cited his sources. I agree with him, but some examples backing up his claims (especially the 'deadly' one) would have been nice.

  2. Under "controlling behavior," the top three bullet points are touched upon in his article: Anything abusive has the potential to lead to physical harm, and physical harm obviously has the potential to lead to death. If these men are being abusive in these ways, there's no telling how many other ways they could be abusive. And the author of the article does not say that these guys are definitely going to hurt them or kill them, but these behaviors are red flags indicating that these guys should be watched closely. Maybe the jealousy is as far as it goes, but maybe not.

  3. I completely agree with the above stated-- I've been volunteering at the local domestic violence center, and we're trained to recognize that kind of controlling behavior as a possible precursor to abuse. Abuse is about power and control, and this kind of jealousy can be the first step.

  4. I guess I can see how that makes sense. Still, in my mind at least (and this is why I want citations) there's a difference between overly protective behavior and abuse. I wouldn't be surprised to learn there's a correlation, but... I'd be interested in seeing a study of some sort, instead of saying "This behavior can be dangerous/deadly/etc."