MediaFrolic’s Life Kit contains tips on how to re-classify jealousy in romantic relationships.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
So I’m getting a little personal here, when was the last time you were jealous? It’s not a comfortable feeling. And if handled incorrectly, feelings of jealousy can lead to internal strife, including actual violence. But when it comes to romantic jealousy, the experience doesn’t have to be all bad. Life Kit’s Andee Tagle has more about jealousy in romantic relationships and why it’s more complex than you might think.
ANDEE TAGLE, BYLINE: We tend to blame a partner’s actions for jealousy – maybe a stubborn look, suspicious text, another mention of that hilarious colleague. But in fact, these feelings often illuminate an internal problem.
JOLI HAMILTON: This is my indication that I am imagining that I will lose my influence over this person who is important to me.
TAGLE: Joli Hamilton is a research psychologist who wrote an entire dissertation on the nature of jealousy in polyamorous relationships. She says this feeling has a bad reputation.
HAMILTON: Jealousy is a wonderful indicator that we care about someone. And then it’s the interpretation. It is the importance we give it that really gives it weight.
TAGLE: Relieving our jealousy begins with understanding exactly where it’s coming from.
JACQUELINE MISLA: Is there something that happened to me when I was younger that connects the dots between how I experience love and territorialism and possessions and anger and all those things?
TAGLE: This is Jacqueline Misla. She is a change strategist and co-host of Curious Fox, a podcast about love and relationships. She says when jealousy arises, listen to what those feelings are actually trying to tell you. May not respond to it until the best you are back online.
MISLA: When I was jealous, my wife was out with someone. And they go for walks in Central Park and have a drink in rooftop bars. And I would be jealous. And I had to dissect, oh, I want to go to a rooftop bar. I want to take a walk through Central Park. And so I realized, OK, I don’t have to do all of these things to her. I can go to a bar with friends. And then that’s an opportunity for me to have a dialogue and say, Hey, I wonder if we can add more date nights?
TAGLE: Easier said than done, of course. But Hamilton says resist the urge to buy cheap patches, e.g. When jealousy creates barriers or creates friction in your relationship, you solve problems together.
HAMILTON: Because there’s a much deeper conversation going on about what our relationship is based on. At this point, we can use jealousy to get closer to our partner instead of controlling them.
TAGLE: If you can get through this process, the feeling of competition may just be the reward that awaits you on the other side, says Hamilton.
HAMILTON: Compersion is an antonym to jealousy. It is the feeling we get when we watch a young child eat an ice cream, but we are lactose intolerant. And we say I can’t enjoy that joy, but I’m so glad you are happy now.
TAGLE: Compersion is a term most commonly associated with non-monogamous relationships. But it is a healthy practice for everyone. Your partner’s big win at work, when they finally find time to have a good time with their college friends – whatever the case, make room to rejoice for their happiness. Compersion promotes deeper connection and understanding in your relationship. But it takes practice, even for Misla, who has lived in a non-monogamous marriage for years.
MISLA: When there are parts of me that feel empty and separate from it, it’s much more difficult for me to compare. When I feel full, full in our relationship, their joy spills over and can become my joy. But it takes discipline.
TAGLE: Discipline, I know. I don’t like it any more than you do. But there is growth in struggle.
HAMILTON: You don’t have to be jealous. And you don’t have to destroy it. You can really learn to deal with it differently.
TAGLE: For MediaFrolic News, I’m Andee Tagle.
MARTIN: You can find more tips from Life Kit at npr.org/lifekit.
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