Couples fight 19 times per month average. That’s almost 5 days each week.
But that’s nothing. That same couple argues over 200 times per month. (Yes that is 7 times per day)
Believe it or not, this is not a bad thing.
Without arguing there is not going to be much intimacy in a relationship.
They argue about four basic things.
Sex, money, how to parent and jealousy.
If you experience these heated arguments and fights you are absolutely normal.
Of course the feelings of jealousy can be frustrating, painful, even agonizing.
No feeling causes more memorable life events than jealousy. In terms of impact on personal as well as global history, few other feelings plays a greater role in shaping our world. Often for good. Often not.
Question: Is what YOU FEEL is normal…and if it is OK…or even good!
Question: Is the jealousy THEY FEEL normal…and if it is fair or OK…and is it good or bad?!
Those feelings of jealousy are habitual, and are always at the ready. They are triggered in very specific ways in relationship to very certain possessions or people.
A child might be jealous of his brother’s time with Mom. He hurts.
A child might be jealous of the toy his brother was allowed to take from him and play with when he wanted it.
But more likely you and I are thinking about a different level of jealousy.
Kids rarely harm each other because their brother received more attention. The feelings inside are similar, but they aren’t as obsessive or as intense as the kind of jealousy you and I are thinking about.
Before we begin….let’s cover the basics.
People (like all “things” living or not) are potentially perceived as “possessions” by others.
In other words if you feel connected to someone or something you feel SOME sense of possession about the person or thing. The brain doesn’t really make a distinction between things, animals and people.
This is a key aspect of basic self/object attachment science.
The fact is that people, in their minds, humans do possess approximately the same way they possess other things. (My girlfriend, my mom, my best friend, etc.)
Possessions that are felt to be important contribute to shaping your identity.
Each significant possession is an “identity marker.”
A matchstick or piece of toilet paper is probably not an identity marker. You probably have a few of each in your house.
I own a couple of pieces of jewelry that were worn onstage by Elvis Presley.
You can imagine the cost/value of such a ring.
If I told you the cost, you’d probably think something like, “geez that’s crazy, I’d never pay that kind of money for that!”
And that is because one aspect of my identity is wrapped up in possessing some part of that human.
I recently sold three pieces of his jewelry. It was actually a struggle to exchange something as boring as money for something that felt so important.
You might tell me that you could listen to Bruce Springsteen or Miranda Lambert (or fill in the blank) all day long.
I might just shrug my shoulders and say, “cool,” without feeling any of the connection you feel.
The Jealousy Formula
The important distinctions here are that –
1) things and people are the same things to the brain.
2) You will feel attached to some things and people.
3) If you feel in jeopardy of losing one or some of those things or people, you will feel jealousy.
Today, we are talking about romantic relationships.
And to define with greater specificity, the feelings of jealousy will be agreed to come from the real or perceived concern about a third party taking our possessions, or, the actual individual devaluation felt when someone might leave, or does leave, or the reduction of significance felt by the individual.
Read that as you feel like dirt if they are thinking of spending time with someone else, planning to do so, or are currently having that experience.
What are the “feelings” of Jealousy?
Jealousy is no simple “feeling.” It’s not an emotion. It is in fact a boiling hot pot packed with many powerful emotions.
Jealousy is very normal.
Jealousy is a survival instinct.
It is critical to have and as strange as it may seem, you do want your partner to experience it. That said, jealousy can be very deadly.
Where does jealousy come from?
- Whose fault is jealousy?
- Is it immature in nature?
- Did something you do trigger their jealousy?
- Are they/you jealous all the time, and they only show it on occasion?
- Is jealousy bad and something to be ashamed of, or might it be a balanced trait of good and bad, benefits and drawbacks?
- …oh…is jealousy a “trait”?
“He’s just a jealous guy.”
John Lennon said he was….
Is there anything GOOD about Jealousy?
Should you try to get rid of it or appreciate it?
Can you ever change the feelings of jealousy inside?
Much of jealousy begins with attraction, desire, possession and scarcity.
Jealousy is filtered through one’s perception of one’s self, accurate or not, and through the value other people perceive that person to be, real or not.
Experiencing the feelings of jealousy is never pleasant. Being on the other ends of jealousy (Parties two and three) ….can be lethal.
You feel inadequate, unlovable, and your self-image is not very good. It hurts. It’s painful. The pain is significant enough that people become unstable when jealous. Predicting their behavior in retrospect….”You could see it coming…” but you didn’t know for sure…
There might or might not be good reasons for ALL of those things.
Just because it’s sad that you feel unlovable doesn’t mean it’s wrong. By the way, you could be unlovable.
More than anything, jealousy is complex. If you don’t feel it, essentially you don’t care if your possession vanishes. The more it matters to you the more jealousy you will experience.
And it might be time to work on that.
A lot of psychologists will tell you that you should just feel more lovable and give you coping strategies for your bad self-image.
Jealousy and Fatal Attraction?
Later I’ll show you how to determine rational BASIS. In other words, is there a basis for the feelings that signals something real?
But let’s even set aside the basis and get right to the inner core of jealousy.
The Inner core of Jealousy is…
Because this is pretty much the Chicken/Egg part of the jealousy story.
Jealousy begins with attraction which brings you to possession. Having a possession (real or imagined) leave you, or contemplating that a possession would leave you is to bring the pot to a full boil.
Obviously there are different degrees of possession, based upon the importance or value of an “item” to each person, in the mind of the jealous person.
A big aspect of this piece of this value is grounded in attractiveness.
Who is attractive? And how attractive is that person, or you? Why does it matter?
Not all attraction is physical in nature. But all attraction began as something that caught your attention.
Here’s the problem:
As a rule, men agree with each other when evaluating women’s attractiveness.
This creates the universal problem of essentially all straight men possessing the same small pool of women.
Brains don’t distinguish between her property and his possession. If Alan internally attaches to Beyonce then Alan will become jealous of Beyonce’s husband Carl.
Carl is the husband and you’d think he would be jealous of Alan but it’s just as easy for Alan to be jealous of Carl.
As a rule, women will often disagree when evaluating a man’s attractiveness.
Don’t get me wrong, Brad Pitt works for pretty much all women. There probably is a genetically defective heterosexual female where there is an exception…somewhere….
Even if she tells you she’d rather be with you than Brad…well…she’s being kind. Appreciate her deceptive statement. Don’t believe it.
Women generally agree that thin and muscular are good attributes if you are a man. Those increase your odds that someone finds you physically attractive.
Makes sense. Women certainly don’t go around trying to find the guy who can’t fit through the door to the bathroom on the plane…
The Core of Jealous Feelings
It’s within the relationship of the contrast between those two factors, the women disagreeing and the men agreeing…. that argument, debate, fighting, shooting….all occur.
That, and the factors that support it, show you why it’s easy to see that men are more jealous, and have more jealous feelings, on average, than women.
Women rarely kill from the rage of jealousy.
Men always have killed from the emotion and always will.
Kate Upton is one of my favorite models. The secret no one wants to tell you is that I do possess her. Of course so do 50,000,000 people on earth. When you possess someone or something, real or living, fantasy or sitting across from you, you want to see them in your presence and not in someone else’s presence.
Understand: If There are 100 women in some group, random or otherwise, they ARE ranked by men from 1 to 100 in attractiveness… and in fact, there are 10, that are in the top 10%.
Most of the men will pretty much pick the same 10 women. Maybe they will pick a total of 15 depending on who’s picking. But the “supply” will be small.
If a man is involved with a woman who is in the top 10%, imagine that having that possession taken from them would probably not be met with an array of happy feelings.
Love – sure, attachment – sure, Father/Mother of children – sure. Personal investment in that person – oh yes….but at the core…
The probability of “moving up” is very small if you lose a top 10 percenter.
People tend to ferociously protect their most valued, most coveted possessions.
Therefore, one would predict that because men know what is attractive, and most men were given the same book at birth to evaluate women, you can guess that possession will be more intense with more attractive partners than less attractive partners.
You can also guess that guarding such a valuable possession is a lot of work and requires much mental effort. It is stressful and mentally taxing.
Being a human male who has had plenty of interviews with other males, all of whom feel almost identically…I promise that this is a fact. Managing your possession is complicated work in 2019. Much less work in 1957.
In 1957 a man could kill another man in “the heat of passion”….a crime of passion and get off the hook, the judge completely understanding WHY the man killed the other man or the woman.
(Either action solves the problem of devaluation, feelings of rejection, or the third party getting the second party.)
Again, to have someone come by and snap up your top 10 percenter will not be met with your approval.
And What about Women? What’s going on in THEIR heads? …
How do Women Think?
Contrast this with the fact that women do not universally agree what is attractive in men…at least not to the extent men have it down to a science.
“Really? You think so? He’s OK, but I think he’s hot…”
Women are different than men. They are more complex and less predictable.
Research is abundant.
Women want children until they have children, and then fall victim to stress. They feel better when the child goes to school and opt not to kill the husband. As the child becomes a teenager, the husband becomes less attractive as the stress in the relationship grows. And if the couple makes it past that 17 or 18th year, they will be better….like getting well from the flu…for the rest of their life…as soon as all the children have moved out.
Women’s experience, even with jealousy, can be triggered faster or more slowly….with greater or less intensity depending on where in the family cycle the woman is.
But enough environmental background.
That group of 100 possessed women, they are now going to possess men… there are not just 10 men out of 100 in the “top 10%.”
Instead there might be 30 men in the “top 10%.”
Objectively this, of course, is not possible.
But women aren’t given just one unique book at birth to evaluate men. Several women might find one group of men or type of man attractive. Another number of women might find another group of men or type of man attractive.
Now, don’t kid yourself.
If you are a bathroom door blocker, you aren’t going to be seen in that top 10%. But, if you have taken some care of your body and your self, your odds are good that there is a woman out there who will find you impressive…but not necessarily most women.
And always remember that attraction/attractiveness is not the singular root of value and jealousy. With men, it is more predictably more so, than with women, but even men are complex enough to “feel the variables of prior investment”…meaning…how much time and life energy has gone into this possession, for example.
And that’s OK. It’s remarkably wonderful.
It’s why beautiful women can end up with the seemingly goofiest of men.
> And of course,…just how many women do you need to find you attractive?
Additionally realize that if women in general coveted the same 10 men out of 100, then they would fight like men to protect the possession of those 10 men.
However, women don’t universally and exclusively agree on what is attractive in men. So a woman can be out with her best friend at dinner and look across the room, each woman seeing a different man and finding him attractive while the other friend disagrees.
Key Point: That single variable leads to less perceived competition between women for men than men have for women.
And this is where the jealousy thing gets bigger…where women, more often than men, appear more intelligent, more emotionally stable.
Men appear to be more like ….well…. jerks.
Women can remain friends and not be required to kill each other because they will find different objectives and possessions to go hunt for.
Men, however, may not remain friends as they each have the same objective they are hunting for. They will compete. They often kill each other to get the desired object of their attention. They often kill the objective and the objective’s other suitor if possession changes at some point in the game.
It’s that simple.
Once possessed by a woman, she may or may not believe that she can guard her possession with less vigilance because there are fewer other women who believe her possession is ideal or excellent. There’s other fish in the sea and she FEELS that “fact.”
i.e. in the majority of cases, you probably aren’t anywhere near as important to her as she is to you….
Remember after the 17 years, divorce is initiated by women, not men. There is an obvious reason. At this point the jealous man is of less value depending on resource distribution at the cutting of the cord.
Men, however, will guard their coveted possession with strategic planning and more… all because all other men will find that possession excellent and desire it as well.
Women will typically view men as jealous and hostile.
Men will view women as unattached and disconnected to them.
Of course, tell-tale clues of future problems will occur.
What if the man is not jealous?
Then the man’s attachment to the object is not being intensely guarded. It’s that simple. It might be important, but it might not be as important as the object (if a human) might eventually wish.
The woman’s feeling of “free” and “happy” is actually more likely a symptom of a future disaster. In fact… if she feels quite “free” in her relationship, she’s one step closer to being freed…past tense.
Paradoxically, feeling “closed in” and “captured” will probably yield a longer-term, higher-quality of life…at least in many aspects of the relationship.
Ongoing jealousy, with or without “reason” is a complicated experience to live with for everyone.
[Worth checking out: Wake Forest University – Rating Attractiveness: Consensus Among Men, Not Women, Study Finds.]
Many women, of course, are psychologically and emotionally attracted to men who are not jealous of them. This is the great paradox. They are/were not jealous for a reason. The men were 7’s and the woman was a 5 and he was simply…waiting for a 6…then she arrived and he said goodbye.
So much for the evolved male.
When you’ve gotten lucky, getting commitment (requesting to be possessed even though the person wants to be free…they don’t) is not so easy.
A significant error women can make is believing that their feelings of desire to be with non-jealous men are rational and working in their best interest. Many women use “nonjealous” as a criteria for a good man.
Is the guy who isn’t jealous a BIG problem?
Jealousy is a Complex of Feelings
Jealousy is more pronounced in some individuals than others.
It is correlated to two of the big five personality traits. In fact, David Buss notes that jealousy is correlated positively to neuroticism (emotionally volatile) and negatively to agreeability…i.e. disagreeable.
Many jealous people, therefore, will also be disagreeable and emotionally volatile.
It’s worth noting that “agreeability” is also correlated to being a Democrat or liberal in thinking.
Let’s look at that picture.
How would an extremely jealous, protective person, protect their property if they were not emotionally volatile and disagreeable?
Think about that seriously.
If the guy leaves the woman in the room with the other 99 guys and he feels comfortable in doing so, how should the woman feel about what the man is feeling, sensing?
“He trusts me.”
Sure thing… But does he care?
In this instance…”trust” never entered his mind….
Female 5 somehow caught a Male 10. It happens.
OK, not often, but it does happen. Run with it…
That Male 10 is not experiencing jealousy or concern, and the possessiveness level is going to be very modest.
Female 5 with Male 2? Male 2 isn’t leaving Female 5 in the room with the other 99 men.
“He doesn’t trust me.”
He is an idiot if he does!
He is genetically programmed to guard and protect, to possess when the possession is valuable.
Emotionally stable and agreeable people may or may not be associated with success, achievement or any kind of biological/evolutionary/life/survival advantage. Here it is in a simple unforgettable analogy:
The lion salivates as only a lion can….he approaches the cave and the caveman sits in his zen-like yoga position and then tells the others to “have no fear, be calm, and all will be….”
The caveman was not protecting, guarding, in a stance of preparedness or readiness. He was every woman’s dream. Laid back, calm, peaceful, meditative, zen-like and the then she was lunch.
Now, rethink “agreeable” and “stable”…
Pronounced jealousy isn’t pleasant and sweet to experience.
Humans have this notion that if it doesn’t feel good, it isn’t good.
And that notion causes all kinds of problems in life.
Humans “trust their gut” and end up …slurpped…
Jealousy is Intense, Protective, Possessive and Survival-based.
Look around your home. Pick out three or four of your favorite “things.” Pictures, books, pictures, toys, your kids, whatever. Your favorite most treasured stuff.
And imagine that someone stole them from you.
Do you feel agreeable and emotionally stable?
If you do, do you sincerely believe you will have a chance to get those items back?
Does the agreeable zen master get his stuff back? No sense of urgency or worry?
Oh, your stuff…Will you get it/them back?
Of course not.
Let’s take this to a more clear-cut example.
Imagine someone came and took your young children from you.
Most women would probably become disagreeable and emotionally volatile…the two traits of the big five that correlate to jealousy.
Most women would go on a hunt to find their children.
Not all, but most.
That is an admired set of traits that causes the endless hunt for the children.
It’s called stalking when it happens between adults in relationships. It’s called love when it’s about children.
See how that works? There isn’t much difference…there may not be any difference.
Just What Do Men and Women REALLY Want? …
So let’s begin with those who would NOT go hunting to find their kids.
Did they VALUE the children?
I’ve consulted as a “body language expert” on analyzing behavior of parents who simply don’t seem to show emotions you would anticipate seeing in parents whose child has been kidnapped…in one case I significantly doubted the parents story.
Think about it…
Is the reason they are not going in search of their kidnapped children… because the woman is agreeable and emotionally stable?
“It’s OK, they will be returned safely. All will be well. Now please sit down and eat your dinner….”
The children are possessions, and my guess is that most people who have their children taken from them will react with disagreeableness and emotional instability.
1987: “Mom, what are you doing?”
“I’m steaming open the envelope so Daddy doesn’t know I read what was inside.”
Mom was no idiot. And it turned out she was “right.”
2019: Mom grabs his phone and goes straight to his Facebook.
And…what about parents who leave their children?
Let’s go there.
If a parent leaves their children, here’s the fact: They don’t care about the children as much as they do the random experiences they might experience the day they leave.
How did the parent who stayed, end up with the parent who left?!
What the hell was she thinking and why is this SO common?
How can it be that there are MILLIONS of men in the United States who walk out the door and do nothing to take care of their children for the rest of their lives?
Answer: They don’t care. (No possession.)
What does that say about mate selection?
Women are not always so good at CRITERIA.
Obviously the guy who leaves has no redeeming value at least at this period in his life. You can’t change that biology. Therefore, the onus, the burden, comes to the woman to select a NON ZEN JERK.
She was looking for agreeable and emotionally stable. She got it in spades. My Mom did…
And the men that left…were they possessive, jealous, disagreeable and neurotic?
They were zen masters. Laid back and cool. No worries mate. “I feel free around him.” Yes you do.
Many, many women are emotionally attracted to this walking disaster.
There is one good thing about the disastrous selection the woman made.
Of course, she will typically choose the same guy next time because learning is trial and error, and we don’t live long enough to get past all the errors in most cases.
But you can feel better about the result. Thankfully, in retrospect, he left.
Is that the person you want taking care of your children?
Why would a woman have connected with this person in the first place?
Remember, this detached person is likely to be agreeable and emotionally stable. Calm.
Does the analogy between children being taken, to that of a partner being taken away, break down?
Of course…at some point….but the point is that you want to evaluate jealousy from a NON-FEELING standpoint.
Do you want the Father of the child to be unemotional and agreeable and then walk out the door…or do you want the Father who will fight for the child…who will be there to protect from the lions…able to buy a cave that has a security system?
Possession may not always FEEL good, but it OFTEN PAYS OFF. …and of course the slurp doesn’t ever happen, so there is no experience of greater pain.
Get it? I know this is a challenge to consider because it is 100% counter- intuitive.
Key Point: Being desired. Being significant. Being important. Being meaningful to others might be the most valuable feeling we have.
And with that might come a paradox.
Arguably and broadly speaking, a choice you may have is to be with a possessive, volatile, irritable person who will fight to protect his her mate/family or to be with a passive, zen like, agreeable person who will be happy to walk out in a heartbeat and leave the responsibility behind.
Understand that this is just one mix of a lot of variables and it doesn’t summarize all situations regarding jealousy.
But jealousy isn’t the complete disaster people think it is, if they get what ELSE jealousy means.
The Upside of Jealousy? …
The Vigilant, Jealous Man
Jealousy hurts the person who is jealous. It is painful. The person in no way wants to be jealous. The feelings of pain are deep. The low self-worth, the lack of confidence, the constant wondering and fear. They can become obsessive at every level.
There are no words that work.
This stuff is rooted with the caveman who BOUGHT the security system. He was constantly vigilant in respect to his possessions, including his partner. He lived to talk about it and form the caveman’s club. Meanwhile the caveman down the road, his partner and kids got eaten by the animals. They didn’t form a caveman’s association.
Today in 2019, women initiate the vast majority of divorces.
Because the man didn’t abandon his family.
Read that again.
Perhaps he wasn’t the guardian, but I bet he was. She wouldn’t have divorced him if he was agreeable and emotionally stable.
Jealousy has some paradoxical and predictable payoffs.
It feels terrible. It hurts. It causes pain in the jealous person and the other person.
But it serves a number of purposes, all of them rooted in survival, safety and security.
Now, let’s make this all brilliantly and abundantly clear. The research in English speaking countries shows this:
Half of all men AND women have attempted stealing a FRIEND’S partner.
Now I gotta tell you that killing your own friend is something you don’t want to entertain.
But did he?
And so did she.
To argue that jealousy is not logical or rational, is both foolish and counterproductive.
It’s very normal. And it is very logical and very rational. It is required for survival.
According to several studies, almost half of all women test their partner by “setting up” a jealousy inducing moment. Men do the same thing, but not anywhere near as often. It’s a dangerous game to play.
Should You Try to Reduce Jealousy?
Knowing all this, does it make sense to try and reduce jealousy in a relationship?
Of course…if there truly is no “reason” to be jealous. There usually IS a reason to be jealous, however, and making jealousy “go away” is only going to begin when the partner leaves. (And even then it’s simply not present.)
Wide open communication is a good starting point.
If the other partner doesn’t want to leave, then it’s a good time to talk.
And taking care of disasters in advance is the best option of all.
When someone is jealous of you, in their mind, they possess you. Like it or not, they “care” about you. When they no longer want you, they are no longer jealous of you. You don’t cease to be a possession so be attentive if jealousy signals reduce.
You can persuade someone to not be jealous. Begin by giving them fewer real life experience… reasons.