No Apology: I’m Jealous and That’s the Way It Is

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.

I’m a jealous girl. And that is by no means an apology. It is a statement of fact. An acknowledgement  of a “darker”  emotion  that we,  as humans  are supposed  to keep under tight control or be judged as inferior and that we as spiritual beings  aren’t  supposed  to have  at all— exorcised,  I suppose, with anger, depression, loneliness, fear, and doubt  when we claim a relationship  with our Gods.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

That’s bullshit. These emotions aren’t really exorcised so much as buried and constantly undermining  what we want to be and the value we place on ourselves.

By denying the human existence of jealousy or insisting that  people are somehow lesser for having an emotion, our society pressures us to tamp down “unhealthy” emotions, something that’s incredibly unhealthy because emotions  like  fear,  anger,  and  jealousy,  when held  in, morph into something  fierce. Held in, jealousy feeds on its own  power, breeds  until  it bursts  outward,  leveling everything in its path. I believe it’s much healthier to let it show and to defy this idea that it  doesn’t exist or that we’re terrible for letting it show. There are healthy ways to express the darker emotions, and for me, journaling is one. Catharsis for a writer is most often done in words, just as a musician purges emotion in song or a gardener plants it in flowers.

So I’m a jealous girl, and I’ll tell you exactly why…as soon as I figure it out.

I’m jealous when it’s something I want, particularly, the affection of someone  I want. For the record, I have not, since my divorce, been jealous of anyone my ex has been  with.  Unlike  many  ex-wives,  I don’t  sit  around seething over the new girlfriend because, well, I just don’t care anymore.  I was jealous of the affections—time,  energy, emotional support—that he showered on other people during our marriage but not on me. Now? Psh. Not even a twinge, even when I dig deep to see if one’s there.

In my next long-term relationship, it’ll have to be with someone I trust. As long as I can trust him and he’s open with me, I’ll me happy for him to have female (and male) friends because no matter  who he spends time with, I’ll know he’s coming  home to me and  making  that sweet heart-to-heart connection  with me.  That  his  affections, regardless of his friendships,  are still for me. And I, as someone he can trust, would expect the same freedom from him to enjoy the friendship  of others because he’ll know that my affections are for him and that I’ll keep it that way.

It’s interesting to watch how people treat jealousy. No woman wants to admit she’s jealous when her husband flirts publicly with another woman or her date can’t hold eye contact because he’s checking out every other woman in the room. She plays it cool and pretends not to notice or that it’s all right because she’s oh-so-secure in herself, even if she finds such actions grossly lacking in respect for her. If she confides to a friend, the friend is allowed to become indignant on  her behalf but if she admits to jealousy,  she’s  told  she  shouldn’t  be because,  after  all, envy is one of the seven deadly sins or she must just be insecure—and it’s somehow worse that she’s jealous than that her lover is paying more attention to another woman or ignoring her.

I find it disconcerting, but I still feel pangs of jealousy when I see someone’s  picture in her ads in the local pa- per, knowing that she got something I really wanted, even if  it  didn’t  last  very  long.  The best  advice  my  friends could offer? “You’re going to have to get over that!” and a laugh. My confession of envy made them uncomfortable to the point of either discounting my feelings, attacking my “insecurity,”  or  telling me that all men are alike and he’s likely out with her again. I’m not sure which felt the worst to me.

The other interesting dynamic to watch related to jealousy is when  a woman decides to “make him jealous.” This is true of both sexes, though I’ve seen it most often with women in the spot of the initiator. Her man doesn’t seem to notice her anymore,  so she tries to stir his jealousy to get his attention and bring his affections back to her.  This never  works.  Either  the  other  party  doesn’t show jealousy,  which causes  resentment  from the  first party, or the other party becomes insanely controlling and jealous.

Or they do what I do. Walk away.

If a man decides to make me jealous by flaunting a new woman in my face or letting me know about all the other women he is currently dating (I can overlook past dates, girlfriends, and wives), I’m gone. I expect men who are still  healing  from  a divorce  to talk about  their  ex- wives on a first date or two or even the string of bad dates he’s had, though if we don’t go out again, I’m going to wonder if somewhere sometime soon he’s having dinner with another woman and including  me  in his list of bad dates. But as long as it’s all in the past and I’m now the  focus  of  his  attention,  it  doesn’t  really  bother me unless he’s contemplating going back to one of them. I don’t expect  to  have to listen to a man describe all the other women he’s sleeping with. You’d think that rocket scientists would be intelligent enough to get that, but so far, nope. I don’t want to hear about the woman my date kept up all last night so that he’s too zonked to be very perky  today.  Bragging,  while  wooing  me,  about other women’s attentions do not make a man more attractive to me whatsoever, and if anything, it repels. I’d rather him feel like  bragging because  I’m interested  in him,  rather than me being just one of the many admirers,  and none of us particularly special.

Maybe it goes back to biology and maybe I’m just territorial. I won’t  mess with a married  man and I won’t mess with a man with a girlfriend  or in a relationship. I will be friends  but I won’t  pass the boundary  into romance or mixing my energy with his. I likely won’t go beyond  dinner  with  a man  who’s  dating  even  one  other woman on a regular basis once I find out. I want him to be done with the others and free to be in a relationship with me and me alone. I’ve asked men out before whom I never would have asked if I’d known they were dating someone else at the time, even if they didn’t considered it “serious.”  (Often,  the  woman  does  consider  it serious even if he doesn’t, and I know how that feels.) I’ve discovered that a man I  went  out with went back to the woman  he  was  dating   previously—though   not  really “seriously”—and though I was playing it cool, I was hurt and jealous because the time he spent with her could have been spent with me. Though it was still friendly between us, it felt like  rejection  because  it made  him more  her “territory” than  mine.  I’m  just  not  going  to  play  with other women’s toys. Heh. Or men’s.

Metaphysically, connecting  intimately with too many people at  one time fragments the focus of that kind of energy,          which  has  its own ramifications physically, emotionally,  and  spiritually.  I’m  at  a place  in  my  life where I want the full wattage, thank you very much.

I’ve been given all the intellectual  arguments  of how it’s just great that a man might be sleeping with a couple of women on a regular basis  or dating around. How he needs to “get it out of his system” before deciding which one he wants to be with in a monogamous relationship. How  it’s  okay  to  date  around  and  sleep  with various women until he decides which one. I’m aware of the intellectual arguments but they  don’t touch my emotions. On an intellectual level, I really do understand  the need for  a  man  to  shop  around  or spread  himself  around. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I refuse to “compete.”

That’s it. Compete. I won’t compete for a man’s affections. I won’t grovel. I won’t beg. I return love cleanly and honestly and with all my heart. Blame it on my Venus in Pisces, but I don’t want to love 100% and  get back whatever’s left over today. I’ll be jealous if I want his affections and he gives them to someone else. I’ll also take myself “out of the running.”

Biologically? I’ll give up on the “territory”  before  I claim it and later discover it’s being marked by someone else.

Because I don’t like being jealous. I like having a man all to myself romantically, though he’s welcome to have plenty of friends and other interests, as many as I do (if he can!). I won’t fight for territory and I won’t claim or keep what smells of someone else. I want to walk the territory freely, nurture it, and enjoy its seasons.