"There are three big boulders in the path to true love: self-love, self-conceit and jealousy. Unless you get them out of the way, you will not get forward." Richard Aldington
Jealousy is permanent, as well as love, loneliness, care and sympathy, but it can still shock and terrify us with its stinging pain of need, vulnerability and addiction. Jealousy is a complex of negative emotions such as anger, feeling of inferiority or depression and the feeling of inadequacy resulting from them.
Unfortunately, jealousy too often leads to agonizing torture, paranoid fantasies, hostile actions and violence (including murder). That happens when jealousy becomes intense, mixes with psychopathology, irritates something within us that comes from our childhood or previous relationships. We are able to recognize jealousy but we are unable to suppress it; that is why we still need help to understand and control it.
Children's Jealousy and Rivalry
The first manifestations of jealousy occur already in the early childhood. All children go through a period of deep and strong fixation on their mother; this occurs due to satisfaction of children's needs - the child is completely dependent on the mother and the mother is irreplaceable to the child. A small child lives with his/her mother in a perfect emotional and physical connection until the moment he/she realises the presence of a rival: another person (the father, a sibling) shares his/her mother's love. The child is not the only one the mother loves; there is an intruder. This realisation is all the more painful coming from unexpectedly usually with the arrival of another baby or a new partner.
It is entirely natural that we are jealous as children; consequences of such jealousy doesn't have to be tragic for us if we are able to express these feelings freely and without guilt. Doing so, we pass the test of jealousy and we will not return to any unresolved conflicts as adults and thus we won't carry such conflicts into our love relationships.
Most Frequent Manifestations of Jealousy in Children
The child plays alone, isolated from others, terrorizes other children, pushes others out of their space, take up all the attention, interpose, tries to attract attention, is aggressive, screams...
Jealous of the Father
The child doesn't want to admit that his/her mother may be interested in someone else but themselves. If the mother is everything to the child, the child is not everything to the mother - the father occupies the first place and the child takes the "second place".
Rivalry Between Siblings
Children are jealous of each other, they often attract attention and they try to outdo each other; they usually hate each other, they try to push one another out of their respective spaces but also from the parents' space.
Pay attention if your older child starts to react negatively, refuses to do what they're asked more often; pay attention to what you ask of them, how he/she gets angry, cries, breaks toys or even vents out their aggression onto their siblings. Regression also represents an exclamation mark, when an older child behaves like a baby and requires his/her parents to take care of him/her accordingly (makes baby noises inadequate for his/her age, refuses to communicate, behaves stubbornly, etc.). Do not get angry with the child nor fear this situation; pay attention to whether the child is satisfied more often, talk to the child about the arrival of the sibling sufficiently and indulge the child in your "private time" oriented only on him/her.
Girl or Boy
It is important that everyone has their place in the family so the family gets interconnected and no one is left out at the expense of another, regardless of sex.
How Parents Act in Such Situations
Sometimes parents are afraid their children will throw tantrums and so they give in, they let them have their places just to keep truce in the family. However, it is not good when parents' life becomes overtaken by the children; it is our life and it is therefore important to assign our own rules and boundaries. In many parents, their own jealousy from their childhood or from their relationship past manifests and those who have not processed these emotions from childhood encounter them again in their love relationship or in their children and already experienced emotions and manifestations.
When a parent or a loved one praises only one child in front of another and speaks negatively or in a judgemental way to the other child, this behaviour leads to feelings of inferiority in the child. He/she then retreats into isolation and refuses to talk about his/her feelings. By not sharing the feelings, the child denies jealousy and carries it further into his/her life. Such children then proceed to compare themselves with others for the rest of their life.
What Should Parents Do If Kids Become Jealous?
It is very important for the children to know what is their place within the family, how we address them, what does this address mean and what are our mutual relationships - children, parents and siblings together. If the parents' approach is clear and safe, children absorb all rules established in the family naturally. It is important to show children that we are not afraid and that we are able to deal with our own feelings and emotions. That way we will show the children that not even they needn't be afraid of their emotional life and they don't have to experience feelings of jealousy. The children will then develop into healthy individuals with healthy awareness of themselves, their place in the family, in the world and in society.
It is important to support children's natural strong sides that will help them later in life. Speak openly about feelings, ask children how they feel, what they experience, how they perceive things, create safe family atmosphere for their healthy development. This approach may help prevent various negative manifestations that occur when children experience uncertainty, e.g. frequent bed-wetting, eczemas, stubbornness, refusing, isolation, taciturnity, etc.
In a certain sense, jealousy is a theory of love, based on several basic premises that justify the jealous person's (at least seeming) control over the loved one. They are also the cause of the inner conflict the jealous person is experiencing - the conflict between the wish and the reality.
My Loved One Belongs to Me
A jealous person wishes to own their partner completely, both physically and emotionally. They wish to merge with them; they wish to become one single entity and their avidity knows no measure.
My Loved One Has to Prove Their Love to Me
The jealous person continually requests proofs of love, loyalty and endless respect from their loved one. They wish their loved one is with them all the time (both physically and in their thoughts).
My Loved One Has to Accept My Claims
The fact that the jealous person loves their partner also means they own all the loved one's rights undeniably. "I love you and you owe it to me."
My Loved One Has to Love Me Unconditionally
The jealous person subconsciously wants to re-live the same love their parents used to give them once before, even though they often idealize this emotion. Therefore, they require that their partner loves them unconditionally and regardless of what they actually do or how they act.
I Am Addicted to You
The jealous person is unable to imagine their life without their loved one; their obsession with their partner makes the partner the centre of their existence. Without the partner, the jealous partner is no one and means nothing.
Who Is More Jealous - Men or Women?
Jealousy is fed by anxiety which results from uncertainty, excessive clinging to the loved one and increased fear of their loss. This frequently entails physical passion or feelings for the loved person, or even a combination of both. Jealousy manifests both in heterosexual and homosexual couples, both men and women get jealous and both sexes tend to do so when deprived sexually.
Women are jealous more often because of emotional attention of the partner; men are jealous when their partners share their sexual attention with someone else. It generally seems that women have stronger tendency to reproach, use the tear terror and threaten by break-up or divorce; on the contrary men tend to be more investigating, scolding, punishing and making appeals to good upbringing and decency. Big theatrical jealous scenes are more of a men's domain. Women tend to be jealous systematically, seemingly in a small and invisible way which is dangerous because of its intensity and persistence.
What Happens During Long-Term Jealousy?
When living with a jealous person, the spiral effect is a characteristic feature of the relationship. The more a person is jealous, the more they want to own their partner, control the partner entirely and at the same time the more they desire to eliminate the risk of reducing, limiting or changing their, albeit imaginary, property. Jealousy is caused by an idea of the partner having a relationship with someone else; stimuli for its occurrence vary. Assessing bearability of jealousy is similar to assessing bearability of pain - it comes down to the inflicted person. The suffering jealous people go through is the same for both sexes, it only differs in the conclusion of this life drama.
How Do Jealous People Cope?
After undergoing a stage of severe depression, jealous women usually break the relationship off, while jealous men become physically or emotionally violent. Women admit their jealousy much more easily than men; they know they are jealous and even require jealousy as a proof of affection. On the contrary, men try to keep their jealousy secret. However, hidden feelings are the best soil to grow various imaginary ideas that consequently lead to a switch from common jealousy to pathological jealousy. It is very hard to go through life jealous; it's better to face it, get rid of our ideas and re-wire the way we express our feelings.
A jealous person tends to be trapped in their false ideas about love and they seek the cause of their suffering in their partner's behaviour. They forget to live their own life and they only focus on their partner. They are ashamed of their jealousy, they hide their suffering and therefore their overall frustration increases. They experience feelings of undeserved love, inferiority complex which can escalate. A jealous person who has a hard time maintaining sexual fidelity also experiences nagging thoughts about cheating on their partner, thus increasing distrust. Everything escalates in the jealous person's mind until they get cut off from reality and become a victim of fixed ideas about their partner cheating which are based in the jealous person's conviction that the others are to blame - always and under any circumstances. They experience deep wounds to their self-love and emotions they went through in early childhood. This symptom already requires professional help of psychologists and psychiatrists.
Behaviour of a Chronically Jealous Person
- They want to control everything their partner does or says. They want to know everything about their partner's life, minute after minute.
- They strive to isolate their partner from the partner's family, friends and colleagues. They prohibit everything, they control clothes, make-up, telephone contacts, mail, etc.
- They thoughtfully shower their partner with humiliating remarks and sometimes they succeed to manipulate their partner to blame themselves for everything. The partner feels helpless and consequently even depending on the jealous person.
The jealous person feels limited in their needs and co-habitation with the partner only supports this frustration, due to mutual negative influences. As soon as you start talking about your jealousy, you take the first step towards determination to get rid of this problem. If you explain your feelings to your partner without fighting, you give them an opportunity to understand what you are going through as well as an opportunity for them to change the behaviour that is hurtful to you. Jealousy sends signals that help us detect weak spots. It is important to accept yourself, love yourself and find your centre; you will not depend on appreciation and proofs of love from others - you will be happy with yourself and you will respect yourself sufficiently.
However, this takes time but also tremendous amount of effort and persistence, since jealousy is never a matter of one person, but it is always a matter of a couple. First, we need to admit openly that we are jealous; only then we are able to fight jealousy and not be ashamed of it. Until you clearly name a given problem, the situation will continue to get worse. Jealousy has its purpose - it warns us about the existence of some kind of problem.
In the past, jealousy and its impacts became topics for many novels, songs, poems, films and other artworks. It has also become an object of interest for many scientists from the field of psychology. Psychology describes some factors of its occurrence and course; sociology brings attention to cultural values and their relation to jealousy, and biology described some factors that may influence jealousy on a sub-conscious level.