All too often, when jealousy is presented in stories, it’s portrayed as being related to love. Jealousy is not a facet of love, it is a very specific emotion in its own right, and one that often is in opposition to love, care and respect. It’s a really destructive emotion.
Jealousy often involves wanting what someone else has. Envy is the healthy take on this, because with envy you can look at what someone else has and say ‘I want that too’ and go after it and everyone can have nice things. Jealousy wants specifically what the other person has, and wants to take it from them. It pushes the person feeling it to destroy someone else’s joy out of resentment.
Jealousy is the desire to make the other person smaller. The person who is jealous of attention paid to their partner, or of anyone their partner invests in, is not protecting love with this feeling. Jealousy can be the emotion that justifies controlling behaviour. It’s jealousy that prompts someone to try and limit, punish or control the person they claim to be in love with.
Equally, trying to cause jealousy is not about love, it’s about control. Flirting with someone else to make your partner jealous is emotionally manipulative and hurtful. There’s no love in that. Parading success or property in the hopes of causing jealousy is about wanting to make other people feel smaller, and inadequate.
Violence justified by jealousy is not an expression of love. We urgently need to stop telling stories in which male jealousy is in any way romanticised – especially when it also involves violence towards women. (This is particularly a romance genre issue – jealous, violent women don’t tend to show up as part of stories claiming to be focused on love although you do find them slapping faces in older films). Anyone hitting someone on the basis of feeling that their romantic relationship is threatened… should not be excused in any way. We also need to stop telling stories where jealousy is portrayed as a reasonable justification for murder. Anything in the same vein as Tom Jones singing Delilah. Anything justified as a ‘crime of passion’. It’s not passion, and it isn’t love.