For some people, expressions of someone else’s jealousy can feel like a good thing.
It’s not rare to hear in casual conversation comments about how “making someone jealous” might be a normal, desirable part of human relationships. Some might even suggest it as a technique for making a relationship better.
Perhaps, as you’ve experienced a jealous partner’s words or actions, you’ve also heard these common voices and decided to use such ideas to make the jealousy experience less uncomfortable.
Friend A has told Friend B several times that they’re jealous of time Friend B spends with Friend C. In spite of Friend B’s attempts to convince Friend A that they have nothing to fear, that their friendship is still intact in spite of interactions with Friend C, Friend A’s jealousy persists. This ongoing jealousy results in uncomfortable conversations that crop up and ruin the time that Friends A & B spend together. Sometimes the conversations turn heated, and Friend B is becoming worried.
When Friend B tells Friend D about the growing mistrust and concerns about Friend A’s jealousy, Friend D replies, “Well, it sounds like Friend A really cares strongly about you and is worried about losing you. Wow, you’re really special to Friend A!”
Friend B may feel slightly flattered that, perhaps, Friend A’s jealousy is a sign of very strong caring.
This conclusion — that jealousy equals caring — might be arrived at mostly by people who witnessed jealousy expressed in key relationships (like, among family members or close friends) while growing up. This is even more likely if the expressions of jealousy were not accompanied by anger or contempt. To those individuals, jealousy really was seen as an expected, normal part of relationships, and not in a bad way.
Some people even seek as partners individuals with jealous tendencies, as we described in the bottom of the “Why Do Others Become So Jealous?” page. If you explore possible reasons why this may be the case for you, you might eventually find that your relationships transform in a positive direction.
But let’s say that you aren’t someone who always has a jealous partner. You just happen to have one now. Let’s even say it’s a first-time experience for you: maybe you’ve never felt jealous or ever had a friendship with someone who was jealous, before now.
And while we’re creating this scenario, let’s add that, up to now, there have been no heated discussions or arguments about their jealousy. They’ve told you about their jealous feelings with calm (not overly emotional) words. You might find it interesting, or intriguing, but not worrisome.
Is there something wrong with this position you’re in — is there something wrong about liking that they’re jealous?
At this point in our scenario, it sounds like a relatively harmless situation.
Some questions you may want to explore are:
- Why does their jealousy intrigue or interest me? (What do I ‘get’ from their jealousy?)
- Is there something that they’re not experiencing that is promoting this jealousy? (And is that ‘something’ expected from me?)
Regardless of the type of relationship we’re talking about, you might be interested in remembering that jealousy is an unpleasant experience, in general.
Of course, in our scenario, your friend has not conveyed a real sense of pain to you, with their calm, unemotional report about their feelings of jealousy. But is it possible that they don’t feel secure enough in their connection with you to be able to truly express how they’re feeling? Could they be hiding their deeper emotions from you, for fear of causing conflict or of losing your friendship?
At this point, you might want to check your own level of empathy — that is, the ability to understand and maybe even feel others’ feelings — toward your friend and their jealousy experience.
If your friend is, indeed, feeling discomfort over this jealousy, weigh the value of their discomfort against the special feeling you get from knowing they’re jealous. If you can talk about it with your friend, calmly, frankly, and with sensitivity, all the better. And it’s important to know that there could be much more emotion hidden beneath your friend’s surface appearance. Put yourself in their shoes: Imagine how much courage it may have taken for them to reveal their jealousy to you. Even if the whole idea seems ridiculous to you, that you’re absolutely positive there is no reason for their jealousy, avoid acting dismissive of their feelings and worries.
You could also find that your friend is capable of experiencing jealousy without discomfort. In such cases, you two might find yourselves in an ongoing conversation around the various circumstances of human relationships, maybe even filled with humor and light.