What is jealousy in plain language? Jealousy could either mean the state of being suspicious that one's partner is attracted to or involved with someone else. It could also mean the state of being protective of your other half. Think of this in the light of a wife, for example, who is emotionally invested in her husband, and so guards and watches out for inappropriate relations with other women which could jeopardize her place in his life.
Jealousy is acceptable
Generally, it is believed that jealousy is needed in a relationship and an absence of it should set your alarm bells jangling. Here’s why: a partner acting out of jealously would tell you that they love and care for you; and they fear losing you to someone else.
Such is the perceived importance of jealousy in romantic relationships that people deliberately try to elicit its manifestation to gauge attraction, interest and emotional bonds. It is not unusual to hear people say things like “I played hard and was really flirty and touchy with other people in his/her presence, and he did not even react or seem bothered.” With such cold/lukewarm reaction, they conclude that the other person is not interested in
having a romantic relationship with them. Even people in relationships try to trigger jealousy as a gauge for how crazy their partner is about them. Apart from being manipulative and sometimes a show of desperation, another thing about trying to elicit jealousy in your crush or partner is that their reaction could be misleading. What if the person is just naturally cool and does not see reason why they should make a fuss because you are flirting with another person? Or in another likely instance, what if the person knows that a reaction is what you are trying to draw out of them and intentionally pretends to be unbothered?
How much jealousy is needed?
Since jealousy is accepted as a good thing as it signifies a show of interest or a sign of your partner’s continuous emotional attachment to you, the next big question is; how important, exactly is it? What’s the extent and level of jealousy a healthy relationship needs? The answer to that is simple: only a little. And very carefully at that. If you're out and your partner is talking to an individual of the opposite sex, and you ask casually who that person was, then drop the subject and move on, then that level of jealousy is acceptable.
Friendly curiosity about your partner’s friends can’t be faulted. But once your jealousy begins to manifest in resentful, toxic ways, then you should know you have a problem already. Showing jealousy is
like a slippery slope. You’d be there thinking you are still showing careful concern and healthy jealousy but in reality, your actions are already screaming distrust, insecure, and you’re becoming an overbearing, choking presence in your partner’s personal space. Whether or not your partner longs to feel a reassurance by your exhibition of jealousy over them, there’s only so far you can go with it. Once your partner begins to show discomfort, once your actions begin to embarrass your partner, you have already done way too much.
By Maimuna Bagudu