Too Much Of A Good Thing — Jealousy Part 6
(See the full six-part series here.)
Here’s something to consider.
You did not set out to find a partner that no one is attracted to.
You do not have a goal to be with someone who has absolutely no life whatsoever outside the relationship.
Or who is completely repulsed and disgusted by anyone other than you.
Or whom no one else on the planet would want.
No friends, no sex appeal and no life. Just you. You are the sum total of their life.
Believe me, if you were dating or married to that person you’d have much bigger relationship problems to worry about than jealousy.
Mind you, we’re not talking about affairs here. I’m assuming you basically believe in being honest and open with each other. If there’s deception, if one partner is overtly breaking clear agreements and hiding it, there is definitely an issue but it’s not jealousy.
While we’re at it, I’m also assuming that in general you enjoy your partner being happy. You would like them to have what they want in life. And vice versa. At least in theory. One of the joys of being in a relationship is the experience of empathetic happiness—our partner’s happiness naturally makes us happy. This is called compersion, and we aspire to live there, but sometimes get derailed into envy, insecurity or possessiveness. We want our partner to do well, but get uncomfortable when they’re doing too well.
Sidebar: The Empathy Matrix
Schadenfreude — a German word that refers to deriving pleasure from someone else’s misfortune
- Three Stooges; Wile E. Coyote
- Smiling to yourself when your ex gets dumped by their new flame
Empathy — the ability to feel and experience another person’s suffering
- Rushing to the hospital when your ex gets in a car accident
- If Moe actually blinds Curly, it’s not funny anymore
Mudita / Compersion — taking pleasure from someone else’s happiness
- Mudita — enjoying other people’s happiness in general
- Compersion — enjoying your partner’s happiness even if it’s not with you
Jealousy / Envy — at what point does your capacity for compersion lose out to jealousy or envy?
The point here is, in a healthy, living, thriving, committed relationship between two people with rich full lives, there’s a good chance jealousy is going to arise along the way. It’s not a signal that there’s something faulty with the relationship.
I know it’s likely that none of this is news to you. I also know that none of this matters in the slightest when you’re feeling the sting of jealousy.
But I’m inviting you to consider the possibility that jealousy isn’t so much about bad things, as it is about good things with the intensity knob set too high.
Imagine listening to your favorite song. Now imagine it being played through a MEGAPHONE AT MAXIMUM VOLUME TWO INCHES FROM YOUR EAR. That’s you, falling into jealousy when your partner is getting too much attention or having a bit too much fun with someone, and envy, insecurity or possessiveness start blasting at full volume in your head.
So just keep this in mind as you get clear on what kinds of things you are OK or not OK with.
(See the full six-part series here.)
© 2016 by Ken Blackman. All rights reserved.
“It worked in the past, why not this time?”
“Do I confidently lead, or supportively follow?”
“Can I please just have the Instruction Manual?”
Every tip, technique, or rule of thumb, began life as someone’s intuitive hunch. Only later did it become a thing. In relationships, an accurate felt sense is way more valuable than any playbook. “Relationship ESP” is a free five part email mini-course. Sign up for it here.
About the author:
Ken Blackman has worked with hundreds of couples from San Francisco to Paris to Sydney, and trained thousands of students in his workshops on sex, intimacy and connection. With nearly two decades of experience, Ken’s powerful, unapologetic break from conventional relationship advice is shifting the world conversation around love and committed coupledom.