Building Healthy Relationships (Pt. 2)
Dominated by the Green-Eyed Monster
We have all dealt with jealousy at some point in our lives, or at least, if we haven't, we will. Either we have had to deal with another's jealousy or we have exhibited the emotion ourselves. Jealousy is natural. Under the right circumstances, it emerges. Usually, we can deal with it. We contemplate and rationalize and realize that either immaturity, selfishness, or insecurity is at play. Occasionally, the jealousy becomes uncontrollable and grows into a monster.
One of the earliest mentions of jealousy as the green-eyed monster was in Shakespeare’s Othello:
"Iago:O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;It is the green-eyed monster which doth mockThe meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in blissWho, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;But, O, what damned minutes tells he o'erWho dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!"
This description of jealousy is quintessential. When jealousy evolves into an all-consuming, possessive obsession, it is only a matter of time before the monster begins to unleash its abusive and destructive behavior. Should one find themselves in a relationship in which they are the target of jealousy, it is important to seek advice and form a plan of escape should the situation become unhealthy or dangerous.
If you want to avoid entering into a toxic relationship dominated by jealousy, be on guard for these signs:
- The perpetrator will never allow the victim to be complimented or celebrated. They will down play every accomplishment as no big deal or laughable.
- The perpetrator will be derisively happy at the victim's failures.
- The perpetrator will constantly question the victim’s loyalty.
- The perpetrator will dwell on the negative, trying to keep the victim feeling defeated.
- The perpetrator will routinely call friends and family members of the victim in order to keep an emotional and/or metaphorical leash on them.
- The perpetrator will use avoidance or the silent treatment as a form of punishment.
- The perpetrator will become angry and demeaning if the victim gives advice or disagrees with them.
If you are the recipient of jealousy, whether the other person is jealous of you or jealous of your other relationships, know that the problem is not you. The problem is bigger than jealousy itself. A chronically jealous person is usual suffering from one or more of these conditions:
- Low self-esteem
- Emotional instability, sometimes to the point of neuroticism
- Attachment disorders
Jealousy doesn’t always have to be a deal breaker. Seeking counseling and a willingness to change improper behavior can allow one to be successful in overcoming jealousy tendencies. No matter the type of relationship, those involved can take steps to prevent jealous from ruling and becoming toxic:
- Both parties should avoid defensive conversation and behavior.
- The victim should avoid retaliation.
- Be generous with affection (non-sexual for romantic relationships).
- Be generous with words of encouragement.
- Discuss insecurities honestly and respectfully.
- Create and enforce boundaries.
- Be patient and forgiving.
Unfortunately, there may come a time when jealousy turns to spite or violence. It is then, that one must seek escape. It is even better, if one becomes aware early on, to avoid relationships with jealous parties. It is imperative for the victim not to allow him/her self to be defined by the perpetrator's jealousy. Try to stay positive and rise above the poor behavior and conversations of the haters.
In order to build healthy relationships, one must make wise choices. Contrary to the motto “follow your heart,” one should not allow emotions to lead the way when choosing which relationships to embrace. Know the warning signs, watch for the warning signs, then heed the warning signs. Allow only those attributes that will lend to healthy and happy.