For many people jealousy is the green eyed monster to be avoided at any cost. But in many cultures and traditions jealousy is viewed positively as a protective shield particularly around relationships. So how do you tell you tell the difference? Protective jealousy recognises that relationships have vulnerabilities – a staff christmas party puts a group of people who work closely together in an environment both intimate and unfamiliar leading to new negotiation of boundaries, alcohol tends to lead to more blurry boundaries – so recognising situations like this is a risk factor. Jealousy is a natural emotional response signalling our desire to protect something that is precious to us – when it leads us to dialogue and reaffirmation of our commitment and some concrete plans that prioritise the relationship – like bringing your partner along, checking in during the night etc it can remind us that we do not own our partner that their presence in our life is a precious gift of grace. When it leads us to manipulate, shame and guilt our partner in a vain attempt to control them jealousy becomes something corrosive that often leads to exactly the outcome we fear.
If jealousy is seen and communicated as a signal that the relationship is important and a bid for connection and heard as vulnerability inviting reassurance and declarations of love and care a little jealousy could make your relationship stronger and if these habits are continued jealousy will become a much softer less frequent visitor.
For more on this check out Steven speaking on Breakfast T.V. – Steven on Breakfast