Jealousy – Is It Love or Obsession?

“Bob” (not his real name) consulted with me because his wife of two years (“Linda”) said he had a jealousy problem.

Whenever she spoke with another guy, even if he was a co-worker or family friend, Bob would get upset and angry with her. He didn’t want her speaking with anyone except him.

Bob hated Linda having a night out with her girlfriends and told her what she could wear. If she wore a pretty dress or looked nice, he would lose his temper and accuse her of wanting to pick up men.

Bob would wait up for her to come home and then quiz her on where she had been and who she had been speaking to. When she was having a shower, he would go through her phone looking for evidence she had betrayed his trust.

Linda felt she was under the microscope and being totally controlled.

Her demand was for him to fix this problem or she was gone.

While you may be thinking Bob’s actions are extreme, it happens a lot.

So, what is Jealousy?

According to Wikipedia, “jealousy refers to the thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern over a relative lack of possessions or safety. Jealousy can consist of one or more emotions such as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness, or disgust”. 

Jealousy is just a complex emotion that ranges from suspicion, rage, and fear. This complex emotion occurs when there is a threat in a relationship and it hits people of all ages and all genders. Some of these threats can be real or imagined.

An imagined threat for Bob is every guy is wanting to hook up with Linda. He plays this movie over and over in his head of what they could be doing. Worst case scenario – they’re in bed together.

This movie-playing is as bad as if it is actually happening.

A real threat is Bob and Linda are at a work function for Linda. Bob physically sees Linda flirting with a co-worker and giving the co-worker the sign she is interested in him.

Whether it is real or imagined, Bob feels he is going to lose Linda.

Why Do We Feel Jealous?

“What’s the worst thing that can happen?” I ask Bob.

“She will leave me to be with this other person”.

“Why is that so bad?”

“Because I love her and she is my whole life. Without her, I have nothing.”

Bob will now do anything to keep Linda as she makes him feel loved, wanted and good enough. This is total dependency or codependency.

Words that are typically associated with jealousy include:

  • Fear
  • Losing control
  • Obsession 
  • Possession
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Insecurity
  • Bitterness

Why do people feel these emotions? The one thing that comes out of all these words is CONTROL. Not being in control of the person they love, who this person talks to, the whole situation, and they definitely don’t have control over their feelings.

Wondering which gender gets more jealous?

Well, based on some research, men are more jealous about physical infidelity, compared to women. Women tend to be more jealous of emotional infidelity.

The problem with jealousy is the jealous person is feeling out of control. Bob didn’t like the person he was and felt he nothing to offer. This means Linda is going to be attracted to other men and no-one will want him.

People who are jealous and need to control have very low self-esteem. Their self-esteem comes from controlling others.

End a relationship with a super jealous person and bad things can happen as they feel they have nothing to live for.

So, what’s the solution?

The ultimate state is to have high self-esteem ALL THE TIME.

To love the person you are and recognise you have a lot to offer a worthy partner.

A person with high self-esteem feels secure within themselves at all times. They see their partner as a bonus in their life rather than a necessity.

Their happiness comes from within rather than from their partner and others.

A person with high self-esteem only has to control their thoughts and actions. They allow others to be who they choose to be and trust it will always work out for them.

An emotionally secure person loves unconditionally. This means they love without needing or wanting anything back. They don’t need someone to love them. If they do, it’s a bonus.

While you may be thinking this all very good in theory, it is achievable.

So, is jealousy love or obsession?

While people like Bob will say it is love because that’s why they are controlling. In reality, they are feeling insecure and out of control.

Love is about giving unconditionally – no boundaries or restrictions. Feeling totally secure within ourselves at all times.

Unfortunately, this is a trait we are never taught to have.

Yet, it is the nucleus of our being.