PQ 8.5 — But What About the Flattering Jealousy?

a dented white plastic cup with a fake black mustache stuck to the front. the backdrop is blue sky.
Image by Kristina Alexanderson / CC BY

PQ. 8.5 — Do I believe that if I am not jealous, I don’t really love my partner?

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“All this work on unlearning jealousy and becoming emotionally secure is all fine and good,” she says. “But don’t you miss your partner getting jealous?”

I cock my head. “What do you mean?”

“If your partner doesn’t get jealous, how do you know they care about you?”

I smile. “Well, they do care about me. I just know.”

“But I bet you miss the flattering kind of jealousy.”

“To be honest, I didn’t really have a lot of experience dating jealous people. I was usually the more jealous partner.”

“Did that bother you?” she asks. “Did it make you feel like you cared about your partners more than they cared about you?”

“It did at first. But that was before I understood where jealousy comes from.”

Jealousy and insecurity don’t just come from one place, I explain. Instead, jealousy is an interplay between the external situation and that person’s internal reality. Many times, the jealousy a partner experiences has very little to do with you. And everything to do with your partner’s attachment style and baseline emotional temperament.

“Sure, the external situation can make someone more insecure,” I say. “For example, if you don’t give them as much attention as they’d like and pay that attention to someone else instead, that can cause someone to feel insecure who normally wouldn’t.  But in general, temperament can make a huge difference in how much jealousy a person experiences.”

“So if you’re getting flattered by jealousy?” she asks.

“You’re basically taking credit for someone else’s quirks.”

“Huh,” she says. “Never thought of it that way.”

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.

 

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