Author (Greek version): Georgia Kizyridou
School & Evolutionary Psychologist
Translation: Harriet Spala
“I started going out with John while I was getting out of a previous relationship. I began this new relationship almost immediately without having ended completely the previous one and this new acquaintance worked like a life saver. As the new relationship was more or less based on deceit, there was no trust between us. Jealousy outbursts were kind of flattering at first, as I felt wanted and he seemed to be deeply in love with me. However, this has become a tight rope round my neck. He constantly searches my mobile phone, my bag and in general looks for reasons to start arguing with me. It’s like he is constantly trying to prove that I am not faithful and I don’t deserve his love. I am afraid of being alone and I am not sure whether I ought to break up with him or not”
Is jealousy necessary within a relationship or is it an obstacle? Jealousy is a feeling everyone has felt in their lives. As all emotions, so with jealousy, the key lies in the recognition of the feeling, its expression and the way we handle it. In Shakespeare’s Othello, he kills his newlywed bride because he is persuaded that she has extra marital relationships. So the term “Othello’s syndrome” refers to the expression of obsessive and pathological jealousy in love relationships and the consequences of jealousy in a couples’ everyday life. However is there natural or obsessive jealousy in a relationship?
Jealousy according to Freud can be a) normal b) neurotic c) pathological (obsessive). In normal jealousy the person can identify the source that creates this feeling and is in a state that he/she can dismiss this feeling if they examine the situation rationally. In neurotic jealousy the person who feels jealous blames the partner and defends and promotes his own behavior over his or her partner’s. In pathological (obsessive) jealousy the reasons for this feeling are deeper and have no relation to the love towards their partner. It usually has to do with personal matters which have started from the individual’s family. This concerns individuals, who have grown in an emotionally safe environment but without stability. Maybe their parents had an unpredictable behavior towards them and this may have created the need to be on their guard all the time in order to feel accepted. Maybe their parents created the feeling that they are inferior and are not worth of love. There are cases where the family experiences were very traumatic so trust was broken regarding relationships (e.g. a divorce, extra marital affairs of one or both the parents). So what characteristics would obsessive jealousy have?
The person who is obsessively jealous has inquisitional and controlling behavior that leads to a suffocating atmosphere within the relationship. According to Ellis, jealousy acts as “self inflicted misery” since the individual chooses to act like a perpetrator but constantly feels like a victim. The biggest fear is the idea of abandonment primarily from a person who is superior to him/her. In order to minimize their stress and fear created from the relationship, he/she tries to minimize their social outgoings to the point of social exclusion and total isolation. Sometimes as the individual cannot handle their irrational thoughts, he/she becomes violent to their partner, swearing and threatening their partner destroying their property and in some cases even try to murder them!! To cut the story short, these individuals do not have as priority to love and be loved, but to control a relationship. In reality however, the individual that has feelings of obsessive jealousy, is asking in a completely wrong way to be loved and ends up begging for it. Is it really worth it to be in a relationship that is based on jealousy and distrust?
Tolerance and denial doesn’t work out at all! Sincere and open communication compared with self-awareness, are basic keys for an equal love relationship. Accepting that we cannot control everything in a relationship, including unfaithfulness from our partner could be redeeming thought. In case you end up in a relationship where the partner is constantly jealous you might want to ask yourself whether you deserve such a paranoia and compulsive expression of love. In case you are the partner who gets jealous and keeps on trying to prove that there is another relationship, take a step back and think: «if I were someone else, would I date me under these circumstances? Would I be able to tolerate me? » Jealousy is not an attraction in a relationship but a dysfunctional way of thinking and feeling – thankfully for all of us, this thinking and these feelings can improve and change!