Jealousy may be healthy in small amounts

Anjli Mehta

Jealousy stems from many sources: from the quick glimpse of an incoming caller on your partner’s phone, from someone who got too close for comfort with the one you call yours or from the remaining Facebook photos of your partner’s ex that have yet to be deleted from his or her profile.

In “The Science of Relationships,” contributing author Robin S. Edelstein says that jealousy “occurs when we feel that an important relationship may be threatened.” With the flood of reality television shows in the last decade, like “The Bachelor,” depicting vicious love triangles, jealousy has lost its positive connotations. However, whether you display them or not, small doses of jealousy are an integral part of a relationship.

The green-eyed monster we’ve all been taught to hate isn’t necessarily such a bad guy. We’ve repressed feelings of jealousy only because society tends to highlight the extreme cases that consume peoples’ lives but fails to mention the effect jealousy has when it subtly slips in and out of a relationship. There’s a sweet spot on the jealousy spectrum somewhere before the dark side that “Fatal Attraction” showed us.

At the most basic level, jealousy is flattering. It reminds our partners that we have an investment in the relationship, that we’re still interested in them — so much that we don’t want them to be with anyone else. It’s a way of telling someone we like them without actually having to go out on a limb by saying it out loud.

However, when jealousy becomes a pawn in a complex game or power struggle within a relationship, it strays from its original good intentions and flirts with crossing the line over to the dark side.

Jealousy draws a fine line between losing power and gaining it. When you’re the one feeling jealous, you silently relinquish some of your power in the relationship and give the upper hand to your partner. As you sink into a more vulnerable place, jealousy can weigh your half of the relationship scale down. Though not every person you date will take advantage of you in this state, the relationships in which trust and security fluctuate dangerously may fall victim to jealousy’s ugly wrath.

Above all, it’s absolutely imperative that we remind ourselves that just as there is no such thing as a love potion, there is no perfect recipe for a jealousy potion. Staging an act to conjure up feelings of jealousy in a partner may provide you with temporary satisfaction but will ultimately mark you as insecure.

The key to finding jealousy’s sweet spot is to allow yourself to feel jealous. The more you suppress this natural emotion, the more you’ll resent yourself for feeling it.

Additionally, jealousy is something that you should communicate to your partner. While you shouldn’t bring it up all the time, sugarcoat it in a laugh and modestly remind your partner that you only feel jealous because you like them.

Lastly, don’t linger on jealousy; feel it, accept it and move on. If you’ve been hit with pangs of jealousy, it’s only because you don’t want to lose what you’ve got. Your time is better spent cherishing time spent with your partner rather than thinking about who could tear the two of you apart. Jealousy doesn’t have to rear its ugly head as long as you maintain a level one.