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Jealousy is an emotional response to a perceived or real threat to an important or valued relationship. In many cases it evolves from another person who could potentially interfere with ones own romantic relationship. Jealousy is commonly recognized in this situation and it is most often seen as a negative emotion. This jealousy can often lead to conflict within a relationship and may have many consequences for all parties involved. I know many people, including myself, who have found themselves in a situation such as this and have ridden the emotional rollercoaster that is often associated with jealousy in a romantic relationship.
I have experienced several trivial forms of jealousy that I was able to deal with and overcome. I am not a jealous person as in envying other people or what they have and I rarely thought that I had the ability to feel jealousy until I entered college three years ago. Upon entering college, I met the love of my life, made plans to get married, have children, and die with this guy, but a short two and a half years later, that relationship ended.
Throughout the course of our relationship we experienced several passionate fights over jealousy. In addition to several other factors, looking back I think the main reason that terminated our relationship was jealousy.
I met my ex-boyfriend when I was eighteen years old and just starting college. I was very attracted to him when I first met him. He had an outgoing and fun personality and we became friends immediately.
I knew that I wanted a relationship with him and vise versa, however neither of us wanted anything serious at the time. I remember being at several parties and seeing other girls flirt with him and feeling very jealous. I felt like he was already mine and wanted everyone to know so that they wouldnt flirt with him. I remember wishing that I would be the one he was talking to and flirting with. When we made it official and finally started dating exclusively, I remember still getting upset with other girls when they would talk to him or hug him. We would get into arguments because I was jealous and he would say that I did not have a right to be jealous because he was not my boyfriend. Things soon changed and he eventually became my boyfriend and the relationship grew from casual friends to serious lovers.
Once I became his girlfriend our relationship became much more intimate. I was experiencing new emotions I had never felt for anyone including lust, desire, and love. Soon we both fell in love and began to experiment sexually which neither of us had any experience in that area. Because he was my first true love, I was very protective of him and would become extremely jealous when any girl would touch or speak to him flirtatiously. Although we would spend most of our time together, we still had not established a solid, trusting relationship. Without trust, a relationship begins to experience numerous trials and tribulations often created by jealousy.
I can recall the main trial in our relationship was a girl that really liked him. She came to one of his parties and would not keep her hands off of him. I was so mad because she was not respecting me or the fact that he had a girlfriend. After that night we had a huge fight because he did not think anything was wrong with her doing what she did. Although we resolved our conflict and mended our relationship that night, I later found out that she was emailing him and writing letters discussing how much she liked him and wanted to be with him. I was extremely upset and sad because he kept talking to her and didnt tell me what was going on. I felt that they had an intimate relationship through these letters and I could not understand why he did not tell me. We had a long talk and I told him how I felt about the situation and he seemed to understand. However, I could not shake the feelings of losing him to this girl and my jealousy only grew. Our relationship ended shortly thereafter because I became so overbearing and protective of him that he did not want that type of relationship. Jealousy had been the cause of my upheaval and the destruction of our relationship.
Jealousy is a natural emotion that springs from passion within a relationship. There are three types of jealousy according to Gerrod Parrott (1991) as cited by Wright (1999). The first type of jealousy is the fait accompli jealousy that involves an ended relationship. The feelings of jealousy are due to the fact that the relationship is over and the other partner has moved on. The second type of jealousy is suspicious jealousy which occurs when an individual in the relationship becomes suspicious of any outsider of the opposite sex. The couple is now in a serious relationship and paranoia grows stronger due to the fear of rejection. The third type of jealousy is when one is not in a relationship but longs to be in one. This is characterized by the wanting and hoping for a relationship with a certain individual. Sadly, I fell into all three categories. I was jealous before the relationship began, during the relationship, and even after the relationship was over when I had discovered he had moved on and began dating someone else. The consequence of terminating the relationship is not always the only resolution to conflicts caused by jealousy.
There is usually conflict seen in a relationship due to jealousy, as seen in my example. According to Argyle (1987), conflict between lovers is common because the two are getting to know each other better and are sharing more of their lives together. The threat of another person disturbing this process causes extreme stress and eventually conflict. This conflict can have both desirable consequences and undesirable consequences. Jealousy may be functional if it occurs at a low level and results in open and honest discussion about the relationship. Not only may jealousy keep the partner aware that he or she is cared for, but also the partner may learn that the development of other romantic and sexual relationships is unacceptable. Jealousy also stems from low self-esteem which may also cause the partner of the jealous person to leave the relationship.
I guess I had higher levels of jealousy that eventually made it dysfunctional even though it did open discussion about our relationship. I was so worried that someone else was becoming as close to my boyfriend as I was to him and I was afraid that I would lose him. This fear made me suspicious and skeptical that I could trust him. Berlant (2000) believes that jealousy causes one to act like a detective and interrogates his or her partner. The feeling of being deceived is so hurtful the individual is constantly suspicious of his or her partner. I was very suspicious and would check his email constantly. This eventually led to my depression within the relationship which caused conflict. As explained by Buss (2000, p. 7), Jealousy can be emotional acid that corrodes marriages, undermines self-esteem, triggers battering, and leads to the ultimate crime of murder. The jealousy in my relationship did not lead to physical abuse but my self-esteem was lowered and I never felt like I was good enough. While the experience of jealousy serves as a signal of external threat, the display of jealousy is often interpreted as a sign that the jealous person is lower than his or her partner in desirability, (Buss, 200, p. 196). I realize now that this was how I felt because I had low self-esteem and I thought that if someone else desired him, I would lose him and would end up alone.
Jealousy is a very strong emotion in every relationship. There are different types of jealousy and different ways to cope with jealousy. It can cause abuse physically and mentally and can lead to conflict in relationships. My experience with jealousy ended my relationship, but it taught me many important lessons. I learned that trust is essential and jealousy should not control ones life. One should learn to control their jealousy levels in petty situations and keep an open and honest relationship. Although I lost a loved one through this experience, I gained more self-esteem and have since then began to feel desirable again.
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