Monday, 16 April 2012

The injured lover's hell, the green eyed monster...

"Born in love but propelled by rage, jealousy is a complex relational experience. It is a
visceral fear of loss, a set of paradoxical feelings and thoughts, an action and a reaction. Milton referred to it as the ‘‘injured lover’s hell,’’ Shakespeare, as the ‘‘green eyed monster’’ that destroys love and annihilates the beloved person. The 19th century Brazilian writer Machado de Assis described it as a ‘‘doubt,’’ a twilight between fantasy and reality, that drives a person into madness"

So, while going through some articles online I came across this one, and I found the definition breathtaking... Not only is it so poetic it makes it sound beautiful in an odd way, but I believe it defines that feeling so accurately I could never match it.
At one point, before I started this new relationship I'm in, I thought I had overcome that feeling and was rid of it for good - I couldn't have been more wrong... And yet, who's to say that some jealousy isn't healthy? Looking back I have come to realize I have only stopped feeling jealous altogether when I am not afraid I will lose the person I love - this can either mean that I don't really care or that I'm being arrogant.
At one point I was in a relationship with someone who I was pretty sure wouldn't leave me, no matter what I did. My indifference towards his absence was proportional to the intensity of the happiness that relationship brought me - in simpler words, I didn't care much if he left because he wasn't bringing much into my life anyway. 
Now, how do people normally react when they're jealous? Well, the article I'm quoting goes on:

The experience of jealousy tends
to arise without warning at a particular moment when one partner behaves in a way
that stirs up a fear of betrayal in the other. To manage the anxieties engendered, the
jealous partner may become sullen, inquisitive, or aggressive.

Ok, so I'm interested in the partner "stirring up" a fear of betrayal... This, of course, does not mean that they actually betrayed anyone, they just disturbed a sleeping monster that was already there! Like the author says "Some of the vulnerabilities that typically underlie jealousy are: a need to be recognized as the most special person in the life of the partner, fears of abandonment and betrayal, and feelings of inadequacy in which the person feels unattractive or unworthy". Are you relating to any of this yet?

The experience of the jealous person resembles a trance-like state characterized by
intrusive fantasies and fears, compulsiveness, and irrational associations.

I love that, a "trance-like" state. Have you ever found yourself going on a jealous rant while inside your head you're like "but this is stupid, I'm being silly"... And yet, there's no way to stop it once it gets going...

The French
philosopher Roland Barthes speaks of the contradictions involved: ‘‘As a jealous man,
I suffer four times over: because I am jealous, because I blame myself for being so,
because I fear that my jealousy will wound the other, because I allow myself to be
subject to a banality: I suffer from being excluded, from being aggressive, from being
crazy, and from being common’’

And one ends up having an internal battle on top of the one going on with their partner, stuck in an ambivalence that seems to eat him up.
The article goes on, explaining how this can be treated... But it doesn't mean that everyone's going to pull an Othelo on their partner just because they have wandering eyes!
I prefer to put a more positive spin on this. When jealousy is controlled (not violent or obsessive), it can show the person they are loved and cherished - I'm sure we all like to feel like someone appreciates us enough to not want to lose us. Of course, if this turns into incessant questioning, passive-aggressive behavior and meaningless fights, it stops being good for the relationship.
So, yeah, jealousy is irrational, it can turn love into rage in seconds and is more related to what one has going on in his own head than what is really happening. But most of us can't make it go away entirely, the best we can hope for is to learn to manage it, identify its absurdity and work through it with our partner... Because, in the end, it is just love expressed in a not-so-functional way and it needs only be set back on track.

SCHEINKMAN, M. (2010). Disarming Jealousy in Couples Relationships: A Multidimensional Approach SCHEINKMAN & WERNECK. Family Process, 49(4), 486-502.

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