Jealousy is defined in two main ways:
Rival jealousy: this is a fear of possible rivals, especially if you are in a relationship and fear that your partner might be attracted to someone else, may be disloyal to you and as a result leave you.
Envy jealousy: this is being jealous of someone else, such as their qualities, possessions, resources and so on.
The feelings experienced when in a state of jealousy include resentment, hurt, anger, a sense of inadequacy, failure or humiliation and a sense of powerlessness and frustration. Both types might also involve a tendency to compare yourself to someone else, feeling inferior or lacking something and ultimately holding your perceptions of inferiority with a high importance.
The defining characteristics of rival jealousy involve the fear of losing someone important. There is a degree of insecurity in the relationship, regardless if there are many other positive aspects to the relationship. In fact, individuals reporting this type of jealousy claim that they are in the best relationship they have ever been in and it is because of this that the individuals fear losing something this important to them.
A certain degree of jealousy can be a positive thing. It shows that humans have feelings and are not completely robotic. However, partially due to the stigma surrounding jealousy, it can create feelings of shame and guilt.
Rival jealousy can be a dangerous thing. It shakes a relationship from its foundation-trust. This jealousy can create an internal torment- should two people that do not trust each other even be together? And if you are together, should you let jealousy create boundaries and restrictions in a relationship?
Jealousy can also ruin relationships by taking away the quality time spent together. Jealousy undoubtedly leads to arguments which mean focusing on negative qualities in each other, tearing relationships apart.
The further you are in a relationship, the more jealousy will progress. It can reach uncontrollable levels for which urgent professional help is required. Not only can jealousy undermine one’s self-esteem but it is one of the number one causes of spousal homicide worldwide.
Jealousy often starts with negative thoughts or beliefs that fuel the emotion of jealousy which can be difficulty for people to deal with. Individuals that suffer from jealousy view the trigger situation from an often overly negative perspective. Early experiences, low self-esteem or childhood trauma can often affect peoples perspectives and ability to deal with emotions like jealousy.
Treatment of jealousy involves building the individual’s self-esteem, recognising own worth and establishing aspects of life that are not dependent on the opinion and or attention of someone else. It is also helpful to teach people who are affected by jealousy to challenge their negative thoughts in order to reduce the intensity of their jealousy. Cognitive Behavioural therapy can be particularly effective in helping people balance their unhelpful thinking styles.