Should jealousy be allowed in relationships at all?

How much jealousy is OK in a relationship?

What jealousy is

In plain language, jealousy could either mean the state of being suspicious that one's partner is attracted to or involved with someone else.

It could also mean the state being fiercely protective of your romantic interest in someone. Think of this in the light of a wife, for example, who is emotionally invested in her husband, and so guards and watches out for inappropriate relations with other women which could jeopardise her place in his life.

Jealousy is acceptable

Generally, it is believed that jealousy is needed  in a relationship and an absence of it should set your alarm bells jangling and clanging loudly from here to Timbuktu.

Here’s why: a partner acting out jealously tells you that they [still] have hots for you, that they care and that they fear losing you to someone else.

This kind of jealousy is, according to Quora, “flattering in that it's a sign that they [your partner] still desire you, don't want to share you, and think highly enough of you that they fear others will want you.”

Manipulative jealousy

Such is the perceived importance of jealousy in romantic relationships that people deliberately try to elicit its manifestation to gauge attraction, interest and emotional bonds.

It is not unusual to hear people say things like “I played hard and was really flirty and touchy with other people in his/her presence, and he did not even react  or seem bothered.”

With such cold/lukewarm reaction, they conclude that the guy/babe is not interested in having a romantic relationship with them.

Even people in relationships try to trigger jealousy as a gauge for how crazy their partner is about them.

University of Texas psychologist David Buss, who’s done extensive research about jealousy, reports that “40% of women deliberately provoke a bit of jealousy in a partner to get a reading on the strength of the bond.”

Apart from being manipulative and sometimes a show of desperation, another thing about trying to elicit jealousy in your crush or partner is that their reaction could be misleading.

What if the person is just naturally cool and does not see reason why he/she should make a childish fuss because you are flirting with another person? Or in another likely instance, what if the person knows that a reaction is what you are trying to draw out of them and intentionally forms unlooking, unbothered?

How much jealousy is needed?

Since jealousy is accepted as a good thing; a show of interest, a sign of your partner’s continuous emotional involvement with you, the next big question is; how important, exactly, is it?

What’s the extent and level of jealousy a healthy relationship needs?

The answer to that is simple: only a little. And very carefully at that.

If you're out and and your partner is talking to an  individual of the opposite sex, and you ask casually who that person was, then drop the subject and move on, then that level of jealousy is acceptable. Friendly curiosity about your partner’s friends can’t be faulted.

But once your jealousy begins to manifest in resentful, toxic ways, then you should know you have a problem already.

Showing jealousy is like a slippery slope. You’d be there thinking you are still showing careful concern and healthy jealousy but in reality, your actions are already screaming distrust, insecure, and you’re becoming an overbearing, choking presence in your partner’s personal space.

Whether or not your partner longs to feel a reassurance by your exhibition of jealousy over them, there’s only so far you can go with it.

Once your partner begins to show discomfort, once your actions begin to embarrass your partner, you have done already done way too much.

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