Seven Stories of Jealousy: a Psychologist’s View
Aug 23, 2019
“I do not believe that jealousy comes from great love. What kind of love is it that can hurt a loved one so much? My ex-husband was simply jealous of every pillar. Almost with a timer he watched how long it took me to get home from the store. As if I am able to cheat on him in 5 minutes! God forbid if someone on the street would look at me! Of course, he is my lover. Constant suspicions, reproaches, surveillance, fights on the topic “who are you cheating on me with?” Once he began to beat me when I was sleeping, because at night he found a profile on a dating site. There was no photo, but height, weight and age were like mine. He decided that it was my profile and he started to beat me. Not much, just slaps in the face, but still not pleasant. When I left him, he still followed me for some time. He wrote, called, and stalked me near my house. He begged to return and at the same time told others bad things about me. Fifteen years have passed, but he still sometimes writes lies about me. And is it all from love or what? Yeah, it’s all from the greatest love!”
– Tatyana, 36
Jealousy is an everyday feeling, and like any feeling or emotion, it cannot be only good or only bad. It all depends on the relevance, degree, and frequency of manifestations. Jealousy can be light and controlled or it can turn into an obsession and acquire a pathological form.
We have already published an article about the features and stages of the development of jealousy. Today we want to not only talk about jealousy, but to analyze it with real examples. Why people become jealous, how different types of jealousy differ from each other, when it becomes dangerous, and what can be done about it.
- Story No. 1. Jealousy as a way to get attention
- Story No. 2. Jealousy as a manifestation of fear of losing a loved one
- Story No. 3. Jealousy as a result of low self-esteem
- Story No. 4. Jealousy as a habitual model of behavior
- Story No. 5. Jealousy as a sign of betrayal
- Story No. 6. Jealousy as a manifestation of a sense of ownership
- Story No. 7. Jealousy as a manifestation of mental illness
- How can you cure pathological jealousy in men and women?
Jealousy in most cases is caused by the fear of losing the devotion and attention of a loved one. But different factors can be reasons for this fear, and an individual person may have several of them. We found the most typical stories that depict how different this feeling can be. Of course, it is difficult to draw conclusions, but we can assume that these were caused by some or other outbreak of jealousy.  All names and significant events by which people could be recognized are changed or deleted in order to maintain anonymity.
Story No. 1. Jealousy as a way to get attention
“We recently met and rarely see each other (she lives in another city), but very often we chat online. Yes, we also met during an online computer game. I love her very much, and I feel good with her. But not when she is jealous and provokes jealousy from my part. We constantly fight because of my school friends. She says: “Well, you are talking with your classmates, and I want to keep my friends close to me”. She shows me screenshots of her chats, where she asks if a friend of her is ready to marry her, and he replies that he is ready even tomorrow. Seriously? And this happens very often. She is jealous herself and constantly does things to make me jealous. I tried to talk calmly, but it brought no results. She starts to get furious and generally ceases to listen. I am writing to her: “I love you I don’t need anyone else”, and she replies: “Come on, leave me, everything is clear with you”. I don’t know what to do when she shows such pathological jealousy and how to talk to her at such moments”.
– Nikita, 18
Some data shows that one of the peaks of jealousy occurs in adolescence.  Teenagers tend to doubt their attractiveness, therefore external confirmation is very important for them. Teenagers are emotional, and these two factors can turn into an explosive mixture of scandal and suspicion. This form of communication can become familiar and acquire the features of pathological jealousy where more and more attention is required every day.
It would also be useful to find out how the relationships were developed in the girl’s family, whether she felt like a beloved child and whether she had brothers or sisters. Perhaps in her family it was quarrels that helped get the attention of her parents, and the girl has transferred this habit to her romantic relationship. This is probably the only way she can get confirmation that she is loved and appreciated. It is important to understand that it is a habit, and to come up with other, healthier ways to get attention, that will suit both. Perhaps, some code words, traditions such as morning notes, pleasant messages, or other small but constant signs of attention.
Story No. 2. Jealousy as a manifestation of fear of losing a loved one
“This is some kind of fate, probably, but I constantly come across cheating. Grandfather cheated on Grandmother, Dad cheated on Mom, my brother cheats on his wife. I look at other people’s relationships and I see that adulteries and divorces are very frequent. And this widespread dominance of betrayal is driving me crazy, I constantly suspect that my husband cheats, too. After all, everyone does it! I cannot forgive a betrayal and I do not want to. This is the dirtiest and lowest behavior you can imagine. I constantly suspect my husband if he doesn’t pick up the phone immediately, I’m already drawing pictures in my head that he is somewhere with another woman. After 5 minutes, he calls me back, and in my head, he has already packed his bags and left me. We constantly fight. He keeps swearing that no way, he says he knows that I will leave him if he cheats, and that he is not going to risk our relationship for the sake of a minute of pleasure. And I really want to believe him. I guess I still believe him. I see that he is in a hurry to go home after work, that he wants us to spend time together, although we have been married for several years. But in my head thoughts of a betrayal are growing just like a snowball. What should I do with my delusional jealousy?”
– Margarita, 24
The situation of Margarita is complicated by the fact that she has repeatedly come across real examples of betrayal. She seems to have formed the attitude that “everyone has affairs and gets divorced”. She believes that divorce is a matter of time, because a betrayal is bound to happen sooner or later. Of course, living with such a stress is difficult.
In this situation, it is worth trying to shift your attention to facts, not to fantasy. Every time pictures of cheating arise in your head, ask yourself: “What real facts do I have for this version? And which are against? ” Not someone else’s experience and assumptions, just the
facts. When Margarita sees that her husband really appreciates their relationship and seeks to preserve it, it will become easier for her to trust him, which means there will be less doubt about his loyalty.
And, of course, it’s important to understand that suspicions and scandals will not save you from betrayal. If a person makes such a decision for himself, then we are unlikely to stop him with continuous suspicions and reproaches. Such behavior does not bring any benefits, but only harms the relationship.
Teach how to have a relationship without jealousy
Story No. 3. Jealousy as a result of low self-esteem
“We met as mature adults, both of us had an unsuccessful marriage and already grown children. And I still do not understand why he is with me and what makes him stay. He is tall, handsome and of aristocratic appearance. But I’m small, pint-size and my appearance is completely ordinary. I’m even almost 5 years older than him. Next to him I feel like a gray mouse. And things seem to point to him finding someone younger and prettier and then leaving me. I don’t fight with him because of this, I understand that if he decides so, I can’t interfere with anything. But I keep torturing myself. Why wasn’t I born attractive? I am old. I am a pale moth. I see that I do not fit with him. When he is talking to someone, I am ready to torture myself from inside. Is there any treatment for jealousy in women? I am so exhausted and I can’t live like this anymore”.
– Irina, 51
Often such a type of jealousy is accompanied by depression and increased anxiety. It seems to Irina that she is worse than her beloved one – and all her doubts are based on this. Probably, Irina compares herself not only with her partner, but also with his female friends and potential “rivals”. She also feels totally inadequate in comparison to them and suffers because of this. Therefore, first of all, it is worthwhile to pay attention to increasing her self-esteem, and then, most likely, suspicion will become less pronounced and her jealousy decrease.
It is worth noting that Irina’s self-discipline is directed inward, her partner may not even know about her doubts. Much more dangerous is the situation when self-discipline is directed outward. A person not only feels unworthy, but also tries to build self-affirmation at the expense of the loved one. Something like “I’m not OK, but you’re the same, or even worse, and now I’ll tell you about it”. Almost always, this is accompanied by humiliation or insults towards the partner, and constantly emphasizing and inflating negative traits. In the future, such aggression can develop into physical violence and lead to crime. 
Story No. 4. Jealousy as a habitual model of behavior
“How can I convince my wife that one can love without pathological jealousy? It is some kind of a circus. My wife is convinced that if I am not jealous, then I do not love her. I told her: “Why should I be jealous? I trust you. I know that you love me, and that you will not cheat on me”. But she is still offended. And she’s jealous. Sometimes it seems that she deliberately makes herself jealous. It’s a slippery slope. At the beginning of the relationship she could be jealous, but only slightly. And now it can build up out of nothing. A SMS came from the bank, and this began it : “Who writes to you? Show me. You managed to delete it. Do you remember, last year you did not show me your SMS? Why can’t you show it to me yourself?” I am tired already, honestly. I did not think that women could have such delusional jealousy, I always believed that this is more characteristic of men. But their whole family is like that. Her mother is also jealous, and her aunt as well. They taught her well, very well”.
– Anton, 29
Sometimes people are jealous simply out of habit or because they consider jealousy a necessary element of a romantic relationships, just like hugs. It is difficult to say exactly how such an attitude has formed. This can be a family habit, when parents were jealous of each other, and reflections of movie series and books, where jealousy is often romanticized. As a result, a person believes that he/she must be jealous, otherwise he/she does not love, often overthinking, and then he/she cannot stop. And the more often one is jealous, the easier it is for each subsequent episode. It is like a kind of stage play, played up to automatism. If such a behavior model spoils the relationship, then it is worth changing this habit.
Story No. 5. Jealousy as a sign of betrayal
“I had such a husband, he was just a pathologically jealous person, a nightmare. It all started in my pregnancy. My belly was already huge enough, and I, in his opinion, was still around other men. I write this in decent words but he said it in a very bad way. In general, I lived with all this for 3 years, and once he left “for a meeting at work” and left the messenger on. And a message came and I read – “Dear, I’m coming late for our date, wait for me”. It turned out that all these years he was constantly cheating on me, but it all began just in my pregnancy. I have no words to describe such hypocrisy!”
– Natalya, 26
Of course, not every jealous person necessarily cheats. Most likely, the proportion of such people is relatively small. But such a reason for doubting fidelity does exist. A person who knows how easy it is to betray and not to suffer from remorse begins to suspect others. It is difficult to advise something here, because first of all it is necessary to change the attitude of “cheating is a norm”. Roughly speaking, changing the attitude to “cheating is bad” will lead to the conclusions “I cheated – I did wrong”. It takes courage to admit that your behavior was wrong and face such cognitive dissonance.
Story No. 6. Jealousy as a manifestation of a sense of ownership
“I also happened to face paranoid jealousy in my partner, and I don’t understand what to do. It’s scary to live with him, and I can’t leave. So many times I have tried but all failed. Once he came to my mother’s, I was sheltering with her at the time, he put me over his shoulder and carried me home in a trunk. And how can I break up here? I am in constant fear, he is so very unpredictable. Conversations do not help and I have already tried everything. He says: “I chose you, now you are mine, and I will decide when it will end.” I am very afraid of him. The police do not advise anything, they have done nothing, no matter that he threatens to kill me. I am surprised he hasn’t killed me yet!”
– Sofia, 27
Living together with such a person is very dangerous. He perceives the partner as his property, as a personal thing – one that does not have the right to opinions or to make independent decisions. Any rebellion is brutally suppressed. Psychologists usually do not give direct advice, but it is worth making an exception when it comes to a threat to life and health. There is practically no chance of correcting a person like the one described. If your city has crisis centers for women, try to apply for help. They can provide temporary anonymous shelter.
Story No. 7. Jealousy as a manifestation of mental illness
“I understand that a couple should be together in times of joy and times of sadness, but when my ex-husband started to chase my imaginary lover with a knife around the apartment, I got scared, packed up my things and left for another city. Fortunately I had enough money. I still don’t understand what happened. Either he went completely mad from his jealousy, or such suspicion came about because of his schizophrenia. It isn’t a fairy tale about schizophrenia, doctors gave him the diagnosis along with delusional jealousy and prescribed a treatment. Now I read the news sometimes, when husbands kill their wives so that they won’t be with other men, I remember my nightmare and I think that I was very lucky – I stayed alive and was able to escape”.
– Inna, 34
This is another situation where the behavior of a partner is life threatening. If pathological jealousy in men is accompanied by mental illness, psychology will not help. A psychiatrical consultation is needed, and medication is likely to be required.
One cannot say for sure why this extreme form of jealousy with hallucinations arises. The reason may lie in constant over-thinking, when from a light suspicion a person works himself up to a pathological condition. Perhaps suspicion may have arisen against the background of an existing anxiety disorder, developing dementia, or another disease.  Alcohol may also act as a catalyst. [1, 5] There can be only one piece of advice – if your partner threatens you, take care of yourself and try to distance yourself from the jealous person.
In what cases can you change the situation and get rid of jealousy, and when are there actually no chances?
How do you cure pathological jealousy in men and women?
The pathological form of jealousy is accompanied by a neurological and mental illness in about 30% of cases.  Usually people speak of pathological, or delusional jealousy, implying a strong suspicion that spoils life and nerves. But in most cases, jealousy is a behavioral problem. You can try to cope with jealousy, but for this it is important to verify that in your case two conditions are met:
1. The jealous person is not aggressive, does not use violence and does not threaten your health or life.
2. The jealous one understands that his/her behavior is a problem, wants to get rid of it and makes efforts to change.
We cannot secretly influence other people and force them to stop being jealous. We can try to behave more accurately, revise our schedule and patiently respond to all suspicions, but these will only work if our partner is ready for the dialogue. For paranoid jealousy of a man or woman, all facts are powerless. The jealous one will find a reason, will catch on to the slightest word or inconsistency – and will create a very big problem. In the end, why are we responding in such detail? Are we hiding betrayal?
Related crimes, including jealousy killings, are real and common. The statistics on domestic violence are terrifying. In 2013, for example, about 28 thousand women suffered from the hands of family members.  But statistics on crimes committed on the basis of jealousy are not kept, since this is not defined as a special, mitigating or aggravating circumstance. Therefore, only the most high-profile stories of jealousy reach us. For example, the case of Margarita Gracheva, whose ex-husband cut off her hands. Or the murder of Natalya Basova in the playground in front of her own daughter and other children. Or the story of Yana Savchuk, who was beaten to death by a former lover. Therefore, first of all, it is important to assess the risks. Your life and health are much more important than illusory happiness or love.
If a jealous one is not aggressive, is aware of the problem and ready to change, he/she can start by changing their model of behavior. Instead of jealousy and suspicion, the person can learn to rely on facts, believe more in himself/herself, trust himself/herself and calmly discuss any emerging worries. A good tool for this would be the 7Spsy behavior modification technique. This is a remote and anonymous program, during which a jealous person will be able to understand why he/she shows the condition and find the causes that “trigger off” jealousy. He/she will then be able to change behavior and become calmer and more confident. Such changes in the behavior of the former jealous person will affect the relationship between the spouses. The family will finally become a safe and supportive environment where you can trust each other and not constantly wait for a scandal due to excessive suspicion.
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