Jealousy – A Sign of Love or Just Plain Toxic?

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Being a relationship coach at Loveawake dating site who works predominantly with non-monogamous relationships, the question about jealousy often comes up from both the couples I work with and others who would never dare try it.

Jealousy by definition means (
“resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself; mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims; vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.”

Jealousy tends to kick off right about the same time a person becomes so valuable and important that the fear of losing them increases, sometimes exponentially. It could be a loss through someone else “stealing” or “luring” them away, or a loss because they put work or something else as a higher priority, or a loss through death.

As that last piece of the definition suggestions, a human desire kicks in to protect or guard the relationship, to keep it safe and maintain its place. So jealousy shows up when anything or anyone threatens the state of the relationship, or is a perceived threat.

Now the fact this emotion turns up really just signifies the depth of feeling and value this person has. This can be a good sign but it’s the behaviors and ways people react or try to protect the relationship that can be extremely toxic and destructive.

Some typical behaviors which manifest are possessiveness and restriction; demanding certain people and/or activities are no longer engaged in, therefore limiting the threat of loss. Or being the vigilant detective; living in constant suspicion and always looking for proof that they are right in their fears. In essence they are looking for someone or something to blame if the relationship fails.

These are just some of the behaviors which are aimed at controlling their partner, but the issue becomes amplified as the suspicion escalates as well as the need for their partner to hide thoughts, feelings and actions because even benign words and actions, seen through suspicious eyes, will always be taken as evidence something is going on.

Trust cannot thrive in relationships which are based on possession and control. When trust can’t thrive, neither can security nor love and respect at the deepest level.

I get asked all the time if I have ever experienced jealousy, being that my relationship is open and non-monogamous and I have to be honest; yes it has. I’m generally not a jealousy kind of person, I never have been and jealousy doesn’t show up for me in a resentment or possessive flavor.

For me it shows up more like a “I’m missing out and I’d rather be there or included” kind of way. I’ve also realized that when it shows up, it’s just a warning light to let me know at there is something inside me I need to address.

The last few times it has shown up it have been when I’ve been massively busy with my business and I haven’t taken the time to connect with my husband as much as I should, or could have, so my “love tank (thank you Gary Chapman – The 5 Love Languages)” just isn’t full.

This is not my husband’s fault, nor mine, but I know now that I just have to make space and prioritize some good quality connection time for that feeling to disappear completely again.

So jealousy in itself is not necessarily a bad emotion to show up but it’s what you do with it, or how you view it, that determines if it is a good sign or a destructive emotion for your relationship. Just what I think…

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