Are You a Jealous Person?
Donald A. Cadogan, Ph.D.
There are a lot of people whose tendency to be jealous has severely damaged their love relationships.† In fact, the green-eyed monster, as it is sometimes called, can be one of the most damaging forces to enter our lives. It obliterates trust - the foundation of all good relationships, destroys our sense of security, and plays havoc with our feelings of self-esteem. It is definitely not a trait we would wish to acquire.
Some of us, however, are more prone than others to develop this painful tendency.† Scientists are beginning to discover a variety of inherited biological factors that seem to account for much of this.† But the differences among us appear mostly due to the influence of events encountered early in our lives.† Consider this example: †Bill was a person who always felt that his parents preferred his brother. Bill never really felt he could please them.† And he grew up feeling inferior to his brother and insecure in his attachment to his family. Even as an adult he doubted his personal value; and for much of his life Bill believed that no one could love him.
Eventually, Bill met a girl that did love him.† But because of his acquired insecurities, Bill was never sure of her love and ever doubtful of her loyalty.† This, of course, put a strain on their relationship, which, in turn, increased his uncertainties.† This kind of self-defeating, self-reinforcing spiral is common in these situations, as we shall see.
There are other experiences that can help us acquire this trait.† Letís consider one more example.† Mary was another person with a ďjaundicedĒ disposition. She was raised by parents that were critical of almost everything she did.† If she bought a sweater, it was the wrong color. If she read book, it was the wrong subject. Maryís parents actually did love her and were not trying to harm her in any way.† They simply believed, as do so many of us that their admonitions would help to improve Maryís choices and be beneficial.† Unfortunately, It helped only to undermine Maryís confidence.† In time, she developed feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness.
Tragically, Maryís family also believed that they lived in a dishonest, dog-eat-dog world; and they taught her to be watchful of all others.† With this background, it is easy to see why Mary was insecure and suspicious in her love relationships.
For the most part, therefore, people like Mary and Bill learn to be wary of others.† But in the process, they also develop an inclination to misinterpret the thoughts and actions of those close to them. This leads to the self-reinforcing, self-defeating downward spiral mentioned earlier. †Soon the people in their lives become guarded themselves and begin withholding information from them for fear of being misunderstood.† In this manner they hope to avoid inadvertently inflaming their jealous partners.† But by their actions, a veil of secrecy begins to weave and slowly comes between them.† Billís wife, for example, would not tell him when she went out for lunch with her friends at work for fear he would accuse her of wanting to be with other men.† But he usually found out anyway.† And her secretiveness gave his more reason to be suspicious.
Now sometimes the suspicious of jealous people are actually correct.† After all, some people are untrustworthy and really do cheat on their loved ones. And even some of the best marriages have had a brief, unfaithful encounter. When this happens and it is discovered, jealousy-prone individuals tend to fume over the transgression an excessively long time and are usually unforgiving. †Sometimes they feel so enraged their anger becomes literally murderous.† Either way their relationships are ruined.† And when they are wrong in their suspicions their affiliations are still harmed due to the negative effect of their insulting accusation and constant skepticism.† In other words, individuals who are disposed to be jealous seldom have god relationships.
It is also true, however, if we watch our loved ones very carefully and keep track of their every move, they will have less opportunity to be unfaithful and, thus, will be less likely to cheat or to find someone they might prefer.† But is this anyway to treat someone you love?† And do we really want to live this way? †Our daily surveillance would produce constant feelings of anxiety and provide us with few, if any, moments of security or happiness.† And after all, if your mate really cannot be believed or relied upon to be loyal because they actually are untrustworthy, maybe you would be better off with someone else.†
There are some people, however, who are characteristically more trusting.† When circumstances are questionable they tend to give the benefit of their doubt to their intimates.† Somewhat naive, the jealousy-prone might say.† But in my opinion this is the wiser choice.† In love relationships, individuals that trust are more likely to find happiness.† Their tendency to have faith in their partners contributes to an air of optimism, harmony and respect in their interpersonal bonds, and fosters an atmosphere of love.† When the belief in the trustworthiness of their partner is correct they feel good.† And when they are wrong they are more capable, due to their buoyant natures, of overcoming the hurt and remaking their relationships.† Of course, I am not referring here to relationships in which trust is repeatedly abused.
Here is a quiz to help you determine just how trusting you tend to be. †The quiz also focuses on potentially troublesome areas in love relationships. This knowledge may help you move toward greater comfort with your loved ones.
Please bear in mind, that tests of this kind are not definitive and can only point to trends in your personality.
Keep track of your YES/NO responses to the following 12 questions.
1. You tend to be especially cautious when strangers are friendly.
2. People usually want all they can get from others.
3. Most people would lie if it would help them.
4. People who leave their valuables unprotected are as much to blame for their theft as those who steal them.
5. The fear of punishment is what keeps most people honest.
6. You often think that you are worthless and wonder what others could possibly see in you.
7. You seldom feel happy or content.
8. When you walk into a room where people are laughing you often feel that they are laughing at you.
9. Most people could not resist the temptation to cheat in marriage if the circumstances were right.
10. People often talk against you behind you back.
11. You are quick to feel insulted even when none was intended, or you find that people insult you frequently.
The questions in the quiz point to qualities often found in people, like Bill and Mary, who believe that others are not trustworthy. These people are usually suspicious of others whether or not they have good cause.† Individuals who hold most of the notions mentioned in the questionnaire usually feel inadequate, inferior and insecure. †Such individuals are also likely to be jealous in love relationships.
If you answered yes to four or less of the questions you are probably a fairly trusting person and enjoy your interpersonal relationships.† It is well to know, however, that a little jealousy, when appropriate, can be a good sign for it may indicate you donít take your special person for granted.†
If you answered yes to five or more of the questions you are probably too suspicious, mistrusting and prone to be jealous. Your partner may have already complained to you about this.
If your score was nine or more yeses, your jealous traits have the potential to destroy even the best of relationships.† You may also find that you tend to feel insecure in many situations with most people.† †You must learn to be more trusting or you may have trouble finding happiness with anyone.
To help you here, it is best for you to know this about yourself. Your instincts almost always point you in a suspicious direction, even when you are wrong, making it difficult for you to trust when trust is appropriate.† Donít react so quickly when you FEEL suspicious.† Because of your nature you are most likely wrong when you feel suspicious (unless, of course, you associate with mostly untrustworthy people).
To further reduce your tendency to be suspicious or jealous in your love relationships, it is important that you be open, honest and trustworthy yourself. †This is because we tend to judge others on the basis of how we see ourselves.† Dishonest people usually expect other to be dishonest.† It is important to note that this is not always true.† There are many very honest, trustworthy people who, because they feel inadequate, tend to readily feel jealous. Generally, however, being loyal ourselves tends to diminish our expectations of disloyalty in others.†
Also, you must recognize the importance of trust in love relationships and make an effort to give your loved ones the benefit of the doubt in all unclear situations.† I other words, if you are not sure, donít accuse.† It will be easier to do this if you select people to be in you life that have no clear history or deceptiveness.† Along these lines, it is interesting to know that jealous people tend to stay with people that they know are untrustworthy.† This is usually because they donít really trust anyone and therefore believe that changing partners will not benefit them.
Because we all feel insecure at some moments or in certain situations, occasional jealousy is considered normal.† But excessive suspiciousness saps us of our joy and can ruin our lives. When we are aware of a tendency to be unduly jealous, however, it becomes easier to resist its destructive influence.