It’s perfectly natural to feel pangs of jealousy now and then – whether you’re envious of a friend’s new job or someone on Facebook who seems to have their life sorted. It’s hard not to compare our lives to others or wish that we looked as good as a celebrity on Instagram.
Read on to learn more about the psychology of jealousy and take our quiz to find out if you’re secretly a green-eyed monster.
Why am I jealous?
Jealousy is a perfectly natural emotion which can be caused by a range of factors including rage, fear and humiliation. You might be jealous of a partner, but jealousy isn’t limited to romance – you can be envious of a friend, colleague or a sibling too.
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It’s natural to want to brush off or hide your jealousy, but this isn’t necessarily a healthy thing to do. Envy can be a wake-up call that leads you to reassess your relationships; if something’s not right then you need to come up with a way to fix it.
We’ve evolved to be this way to protect our social relationships, so jealousy can’t be helped. There’s some evidence to suggest that jealousy is in our genes and that some people are more likely to be affected by jealousy than others.
Is jealousy always bad for you?
Psychologists are divided on this, but jealousy at work can actually have a positive effect. If a colleague is doing well and you become jealous of her, it can motivate you to work harder and improve your skills.
Jealousy in a relationship can be toxic, but there are some circumstances where it can actually be beneficial and bring you and your partner closer together.
When is jealousy unhealthy?
While a little jealousy can motivate you, it’s important to recognise when it’s moving into unhealthy territory. Extreme jealousy can be destructive to both your relationships and your health.
Jealousy can have a real impact on your physical and mental health. It can cause sleeplessness, anxiety and even depression.
How to get over jealousy in a relationship
Jealousy in a relationship often stems from insecurity and a fear that your partner might reject you. You can end up projecting your worries and fears onto the other person and that’s not healthy in any relationship.
It might be that your worries are based on childhood memories of your parents’ relationship. Acknowledging this will help you to accept that your relationship doesn’t have to reflect theirs. And then you can take positive steps to change how you view your relationship.
It’s also good to focus on doing more positive activities with your partner that you can both enjoy. Dr Robert Leahy recommends creating a list of enjoyable activities and taking in turns to choose which ones you do. This can help you to view each other in a more positive light.
Read some more great tips for coping with jealousy here.
Am I a jealous person? Take our personality test
Photo by Pete Bellis and Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.