So there you are, staring across the table at your beau. You smile at each other, hold hands, and make light small talk. All of a sudden, something catches your eye from across the street. It’s an attractive man or woman, one who you linger too long in observing, attracting a protest from your partner. Do you feel shame or guilt? Is there a reason why you’re looking elsewhere? Is it just a physical reaction?
Statistical infidelity points to major insecurity in many relationships. Unless your relationship is a loveless façade designed for social or business appearances, the underlying reality is that jealously is a very real element to many relationships.
Despite the threat of an outsider ruining your life, several other factors come into play that limit the damage done. Older married couples tend to “let it all hang out”, bringing down their marketability. If your partner is low maintenance (meaning ugly, not easy–going), there’s little reason to be jealous.
With men, the trend seems to be that cheating is a simple matter of opportunity. What you can get away with is what you’re often willing to do. In those cases, jealousy is often justified or a natural response to a very real threat. A girlfriend or spouse can sense the danger, perhaps either unwilling or unable to put their finger on the truth of the matter.
There’s always the self-fulfilling prophecy of jealously gone unchecked that leads to the demise of a relationship. If you push too hard to keep tabs on your partner, they’ll have an incentive to break-up or cheat. You can shout “I knew it all along”, and feel justified in the very behavior that caused the rift in the first place. Such a stance allows for little self-reflection, and tends to create a pattern of bad or failed relationships.
Ask anyone what the cornerstone to a great relationship is, and they’ll say “trust”. Knowing you can fall, and that your lover will be there to catch you is one of the sweetest things to revel in when you’re down and out. When you know that there’s going to be someone there for you at the end of the day, it makes life worth living. Jealousy gnaws away at trust, disposing of the very best parts and leaving behind an empty shell devoid of its essence. At the same time, jealousy plays an important part as an expression of insecurity and fear — the knowledge that we might not be good enough or special enough for our partner.
The main quality that draws people together isn’t so much picking someone who is attractive, but finding someone we feel is on a similar footing to ourselves. This means that there’s more equality and less reason to fear rapid destabilization. When you know that you’re way out of your league, it seems almost a reasonable choice to be paranoid of others.
The truth is, heartbreak is a fairly normal occurrence in life. People would be wise if they made things easier on themselves by promoting trust rather than acting to destroy it. Jealousy is a byproduct of love, but it doesn’t have a place in a truly loving relationship. If you can put yourself out there, and really believe in yourself, perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy a life free from constantly looking over your shoulder. Otherwise, it’s going to be very difficult to have fun, and whatever you cared about in the first place is bound to disappear.