Some people — even experts — say that experiencing jealousy is an inevitable part of being human.
So even if you’re concerned right now about someone else’s jealousy, there’s a strong chance that you’ve experienced jealousy before, too. And keeping that in mind — that you’ve been in their shoes, even if only sort of — can be important to the healing process for you, and maybe, for them.
But why is it that some people seem to take jealousy to another level?
- Maybe you’ve noticed that they seem to have experienced jealousy in nearly all of their relationships.
- Maybe you’re thinking that they experience jealousy at times and in situations when you never would.
- Maybe you’re worried that their jealousy experience — their thoughts, feelings, and related behavior — is out of control and destructive.
First: If you’re worried for your safety or the immediate well-being of others, take a look at our page called “Should I be afraid of their jealousy?”
If you’re not feeling afraid or worried about safety, then let’s talk about the experience of jealousy from an ‘outside’ perspective. Adding some details to what you already know about jealousy might be helpful.
Even if jealousy is a common human experience, that doesn’t mean anyone really wants to go through it. In that way, it’s a little like an instinct, a reaction — not a way of being that someone decided upon.
Think about the feelings you have when you’re jealous, even if just a little bit. They’re not comfortable feelings! And how about those racing thoughts about how you’re missing out or losing someone or being taken for granted…? Those are not happy-making thoughts.
Chances are good that the jealous person in your life does not actually want to be having the jealousy experience. If they could just “snap out of it,” they probably would.
You can find many theories and opinions on what causes jealousy, what makes jealousy continue and even seem to grow, and what makes jealousy end. In fact, you might find it helpful to look at things from the other side of our site — you’re welcome to read up on it by clicking through to the “Personal Jealousy” section.
Take a look at one writer has to say about why people become jealous:
Since the 1990’s, Franklin Veaux has written and been interviewed on topics related to polyamory (that’s the idea of loving more than one person at the same time — more to come on that topic later) and relationships in general. Naturally, one topic which comes up often in his work is the concept of jealousy.
Here’s Veaux’s Theory of Jealousy:
Jealousy is most common when somebody feels insecure, mistreated, threatened, or vulnerable in a relationship. If you feel secure in a relationship, you don’t get jealous. Jealousy is not the problem; jealousy is the SYMPTOM of the problem. Address the insecurity or the things underlying the feelings of vulnerability, and you address the jealousy.
Regardless of what you think about polyamory (the focus of Veaux’s books,) he offers a pretty good explanation of the circumstances that bring a person to the jealousy experience.
If you’re struggling with some serious jealousy, though, Veaux’s implication that Feeling Secure equals No Jealousy might seem too simplistic.
Still, as we describe over “on the other side” in Why Do I Feel So Jealous?, insecurity is a strong starting point for many people’s jealousy.
Getting to the causes of the insecurity can often be a bigger challenge.
- What if someone experiences insecurity-based jealousy even when the other people aren’t doing anything to provoke it?
- What if this person has gone through nearly every relationship having jealousy crop up, regardless of what anyone else does?
It is indeed sometimes the case that a really terrific person experiences insecurity-based jealousy. It may not make sense to people around that individual, especially if he or she seems to “have it all” or at least has “a lot going for them.” Why on earth would they feel insecure?
The potential reasons can be innumerable, too many to count, and each person’s story is unique.
For a few ideas on where you might go from here, see our “How Can I Help Them Stop Being So Jealous?” page.
But before you go…
If you find yourself “always” in relationships with different people who “are jealous,” understanding more about that — possible reasons for your connecting over and over again with “jealous people” — might provide you with even more keys to a satisfying life with fulfilling relationships.
Questions to ponder, if this describes many or all of your relationships:
- Are there some things about these individuals, other than their jealousy, that they all have in common and to which I feel drawn or connected?
- How might my own way of being in relationship with a person encourage insecurity or jealousy in the other?
To be clear, it is possible that after pondering the above questions, you arrive at no conclusions. Or you might come up with several different answers.
Be open to the possibilities.