Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Colour of Love is not Green

"In jealousy there is more of self-love than love."

François de la Rochefoucauld

I have, in my past, experienced great relationship distress handling the issue of jealousy. I have pointed out that jealousy - especially unreasonable, unfounded, irrational jealousy - is a pernicious element of a partnership, one which poisons everything good and worth celebrating in it. The oft used rebuttal and defense to that opinion of mine is this,

"I'm only jealous because I love you. You should worry if I'm not jealous anymore."

That's a patently ridiculous assertion, one which holds absolutely no water but does indeed, carry a whole cartload of manure.

To understand my contempt for that argument, we must first explore the meaning of love - that question which have remained more or less unanswerable ('Love is God' notwithstanding and irrelevant) since the days when Love became a virtue all those centuries ago. I have always answered that this way,

"Love is what remains after you strip off everything that isn't Love."

That's a bit of a cop-out on my part and is indeed, partly inspired by that Bible quote mentioned in that movie adapted from Nicholas Spark's novel, A Walk to Remember - you know, the one that went, "Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful..." and so it goes. I think that there is never any book big enough to list everything that Love is and is not - it either means Love is just too big to encompass in words or it simply exists in too many different forms to define.

Jealousy isn't and isn't part of Love. I simply refuse to recognise something so petty and negative to be in association with something so contrarily noble and positive. You can say that being in Love allows you a position to be more susceptible to - or rather, give you more opportunities to indulge in jealousy. But you can't say that you're jealous because you love. That's a logical fallacy. It's like saying that you trip and fell down because you were walking on the street. Absurd, yes. You trip and fell down because you're an oaf. You're jealous because you're either possessive, suspicious or plagued by personal inferiority issues. Love has no hand in it.

I understand how it feels to be jealous, with or without good reasons, in my past but never once have I blamed Love for it. Nowadays, I am optimistic enough to say that my propensity to give in to jealousy have been greatly reduced, eliminated even. This happened in part because I have came to accept that being in a relationship does not mean that I "own" the person I love in any sense of the word at all, whether physically or abstractly. Anyone who claim ownership of their lovers are engaging in a very subtle form of slavery which, I feel, reduces disrespects the humanity, personality and autonomy of the people they claim to love. Like, just because Phoebe's my girlfriend, it doesn't mean I can stop her from meeting whoever she wants, wearing whatever she wants or getting that geisha tattoo she kept telling me about. I only have the option of leaving her if I find her doing something too disagreeable for me.

Trust, I always felt, is essential to a relationship. If you spend all your time having to be suspicious of your lover, how much time then are you left with to love and to enjoy being in love with her or him? I have had a terrible experience with an eternally suspicious girlfriend a couple of years ago who had absolutely no trust me at all - even after I made the utterly stupid promise, ostensibly on my own volition as she often insisted but was actually a product of passive-aggressivism, to never ever go out with another girl alone for any reason. In one instance, I walked another female classmate home (by her polite request) because the guy who usually did it wasn't present, because I thought it was okay because I was going to walk the same way anyway to my own apartment and because it was a neighbourhood well known for snatch-thieves and muggers (my ex-girlfriend herself experienced a snatch-theft on one occasion while I was beaten and mugged in another). Let me be clear here that what I did was morally right, which any gentleman would have done without being asked - and I actually had to explain myself and placate her for my doing the right thing. That was utterly ridiculous and I did not know why I even stood for such bollocks back then. The absolute tipping point was when she accused me of oogling at another classmate in med school when I wasn't. Her conviction that I did was pathologically delusional - borderline Othello Syndrome, even - and we had one of our biggest rows over it. I would not say that her insane jealous nature was solely the reason which drove me to ultimately dump her ass, but yes, I must say it made up a big part of my motivation to do so.

Excuse my arrogance but I must say this; I may be less than ideal in a lot of aspects as the best boyfriend one can have, but when it comes to spousal fidelity, I was (and still am, I am happy to report) utterly flawless. I do not take well to suspicions upon my character.

Havelock Ellis once refer to jealousy as, in his own words, "that dragon which slays love under the pretense of keeping it alive." When I remember how my ex once said that she's only jealous because she loves me, I really see how accurately Mr Ellis had nailed it.

I honestly think that an ever-present fear of arousing jealousy in one's lover has a real effect against living one's life naturally. Say hypothetically, I want to meet a friend who just happens to be woman. Unsurprisingly, girlfriend would quite normally react to that with jealousy. To avoid ever meeting any member of the opposite sex in a thoroughly platonic social context and on a wholly intellectual level just because I want to avoid making my girlfriend unhappy is unrealistic, and the girlfriend who allows her boyfriend to make that sacrifice for her is in truth, paving her own way to a lot of misery. "Sacrifice" is no doubt a glorious and honorable act for a person to do for his or her lover but it often have quite predictable consequences. The party who "sacrificed" will grow resentful, often subconsciously, because his or her freedom is bruised and over time, this can culminate into a real hatred of one's situation. Love often died by this arrow. Yes, I believe Love is finite and is able to die though I am not so cynical as to suppose that Love cannot outlast our lifetimes. I do, however, have great loathing for people who insist that if something did not last, it wasn't Love to being with. I find such people to be in dire need of a good round of whoopass.

"I can't help feeling jealous."

That's the unapology I often hear for jealousy. I'll concede that it's not an easy emotion to dodge or to get out of, but thinking that way just means that you aren't going to do anything whatsoever about it. I'll also concede that there are situations in which jealousy is justified, like if your girlfriend or boyfriend treats someone else visibly better than she does you, or if he or she flirts shamelessly with other people without any regards for your feelings - but let's face it, jealousy is more often irrational and pointlessly destructive, and it puts your lover in a difficult situation which makes him or her unhappy. It is born from a mix of delusions of loss and of perceived intrusions into your "property" - or as de la Rochefoucauld bluntly described, "more of self-love than love."

I am in a long distance relationship now and I know that distance has a way of amplifying one's insecurities and suspicions a thousand times over. Jealousy is almost certainly inevitable. Still, tell me - does it mean that a person in a long distance relationship must limit his or her social activities just to prophylactically and temporarily salve these little cuts and bruises? Or must the problem be torn out root and branch from its source once and for all? Freedom to live one's life within reason is something which we all must agree to be something righteous. When has it been wrong to do the right thing?

"You can either have love or Life. You can't have both."

I have contemplated this and it often depresses me to do so. It depresses me that Love has been reduced to a negativistic value, instead of the creative, nurturing ideal it is known to be. The only way I can make any sense of this is if I assume that the person who said it have confused Love with abject possession. Love grows on the fertile soil of Life. Without Life, there can be no Love. Anyone who is in a relationship and believes in that sadomasochistic bullshit about how one must choose between the two will think that it is okay to hijack someone's Life in the name of love. Two person in the same relationship who are of the same mind on this are in for much, much misery. I'd know - I have been in one.

This post is getting too long and even though I'd like to go on, I must stop before it becomes incoherent. I am not sure myself whether this is an objective discourse on jealousy, a rant or a lament - but I do hope that I can start a proper discussion here about this. I want to hear your opinions and, if it's not too much, your own personal experiences with that green monstrosity.

Sorry for being boring. It's your turn to talk.

Has a greater meaning of Love in mind,
k0k s3n w4i


- yuhhui - said...

Well, I must say that you wrote a very good post on this. LDR certainly does increase all the unnecessary insecurities. It does take a toll on lovers but I believe that, everything is devoid of inherent exisence, including feelings. Feelings of jealousy come and go.

Easy to say this but when it's happening, it's hard to let go of that green monster in ourselves. I was jealous girlfriend initially but after being together with my bf for nearly 4 years, time convinced me to trust him. Even we're in a LDR relationship, we're still managing fine. I think being really open with each other also helps, like how he tells me if he's going out lunch with a group of girls and vice versa. It doesn't mean that if we're in a relationship,we should stop all our activities, friendships and only focus solely on our partner. That's just sad. But I've seen lots of people doing it. Sigh.

I always believe that one could have Love and Life together, it's just a matter of choice. To choose to take control of my feelings rather than to let feelings control me. Hehe.

senorita.. said...

yeah what Yuhhui said is right. i used to be in that stage as well (stage where the Green Jealous Monster was most active, created a lot of havoc) but thank God it's over now... just need to hang on and that stage will pass.. i blif it's just a phase in a relationship. we're like best friends who happens to love each other now, very happy to discuss anything n everything, trusting each other absolutely. =)

Zzzyun said...

i think its inevitable when there's this little hint of jealousy sprouting from no where at the most importune of times.

but the most important thing is not to let it take over ur relationship. instead one shld reflect on why is feeling that way and whether it is reasonable onot.

and it's been said countless times. but one of the main things that make a relationship work is honest communication.

i'd hardly like my bf to stop mixing with girls (platonically of coz :P) just because i dont allow him to do so. because i know how to think: what if he wanted me to do the same thing (as in dont mix with guys), how would i feel? definitely not very good. as im someone that values my freedom highly.

so i guess sometimes u just hvta stop urself and think abt the green little monster rearing its ugly head inside you "is it even worth it to argue over something stupid like this?" when u probably know he's not up to anything bad anyway.

after the relationship takes off, you will notice that the monster's appearances becoming less and less..till no more =)

bevE said...

sounds like rant and lament to me, infused with ur blogging formalities.

i think love has a part to play in jealousy as in, if you didn't love the person you probably wouldn't feel jealous.

"I'm only jealous because I love you. You should worry if I'm not jealous anymore."

i dun believe in latter part of quote lor. u could be indifferent about whether ur other is going out with diff sex person, but i kinda think it will only happen in few situations. situations where u've got a lot of faith and trust in your other, or you've got one helluva big ego. -.-

since i have never had a lot of faith and trust in ppl its always been latter. :D i is ego person. i no jelez. J goin to see a girl he used to like on friday. xD

i hate myself when i feel jealous. i like the other person so much, or love the other person so much (not just talking about boyfriends but between friends even) that it's just stupid because jealousy makes me hate them, and i hate myself more for feeling that.

so even though i think we can all control our feelings jealousy is occasionally and impossibly hard emotion or irrationality to get rid of that most of the time stems from insecurity. so i try to push it away coz i hate hating myself when i already degrade myself *cough* so much.

it is a very, very, ugly feeling.

i so glad J not a very jealous person and is able to talk things out rationally :3 ^___^ i dun limit his freedom too. ITS SO NICE HE SPEAKS PROPER ENGLISH HAVE I SAID THAT YET? XD

*wonders if its strange i'm not jealous*

eh. .... *forgot* uh. ..... -_- blah. cant be bothered to reread ur post, so nth else to say. :D OH YEAH. ur commentors so far all got bf d. xD *hilarious* well i dunno bout number 2 but i assume so la. -.-

cheers up posies *hands over some freshly-picked daisies*

bevE said...

terri said she's gonna write a post-reply soon.

i think u're being miiighty defensive. =O

the idea came from somewhere else though.

Jia Hui said...

You have an avid reader here =) though I hardly leave comments. A very good post again I would say. I enjoyed reading it. And I agree to it too. To me, love contains trust. It's about placing your heart in someone's hand even though it's fragile because you trust that person to hold it with his/her best ability.

I once watched this show whereby the audience have to guess which couple was the real one out of a few. One of the tests was a few girls would crowd around the boyfriend like how fans would get excited when they meet a celebrity. There was only one pair that striked out that the gf did not feel jealous at all. In fact, it was the bf that asked, why you don't feel jealous wan? Needless to say, that pair was the real one.

I don't feel jealous even when my bf hangs out with a bunch of his female friends even though he knows them longer than he knows me. Yet, guilty to say, I feel jealous when he's so passionate about his hobby. Your post served as a very good reminder =)

Oh, and one last thing, life and love don't exist without the other. Without love, there's no life and vice versa. What's more, love makes one grow. Love enhances one's life.

bevE said...

i agree with jia hui's last paragraph :D

but i dun think it was a very good post -.- *shrug* not that u care what my opinion is among the majority of fans who think otherwise T^T

minwi said...

nah my msn:

Inn Shan said...

IMO, 'big' jealousy is bad for relationship. Beginners tend to be possessive and full of jealousy. This is because they don't know how to handle their feelings. Maybe after a while, beginners (males or females) will realise jealousy brings nothing but misery.

On the other hand, 'small' jealousy might be positive. Small jealousy is harmless jealousy which 'shows' that you care about her. It shows that you are precious to yourself. This 'small' jealousy is another way to show love.

So i would not say that jealousy is totally a bad thing. It just depend on the magnitude of it.

If ever your girlfriend tries to make you jealous whenever she feels that you gave her lack of attention, it's quite a reflex for you to react to show that u i right?

It's up to each couple's definition of jealousy. They should sit down and talk about it.

It took me one year to get myself orientated for my current gf. Haha...praise me.

michellesy said...

I admit, James, that when I read this post, the first thing that sprang to mind was that fragment of a poem by Emily Bronte - I've known a hundred kinds of Love; All, made the loved one rue.

If Jealousy is how you choose to express Love, wherein lies the Trust?

Hypothetically, if you love someone enough to writhe in the throes of jealousy on their behalf, conversely, shouldn't you also love them enough to trust that they will remain faithful to you?

Like you, I cannot imagine how love can be expected to flourish in an atmosphere heavily laden with the suspicions and insecurities of one (or God help us, both!) parties.

You know my thoughts on this, James. It's one I haven't been coy about - which is why I think we're in accord on this subject?

I mean, Heaven knows, my ex turned out to be a right rat-bastard with a heap of failings, but infidelity wasn't one of them. Neither is it one of mine, although I would be a bare-faced liar if I swore thoughts of 'what-ifs' had NEVER crossed my mind at some point in our three years together. But that was as far as it got.

I am a little contrary about this little thing called Jealousy, as I am given to utterly abandoning myself to the green-eyed monster, when it comes to other aspects of my life, such: work, or achievements, or accomplishments. Y'know, just cos I'm just petty like that =P

But when it comes to relationships, I haven't felt a twinge of the monster. Having said that I have only had one serious boyfriend, so if you feel like saying I'm full of bullshit, I won't take it personally =D

michellesy, the penitent said...

ps: As long as this isn't a diatribe directed against anyone in particular (except perhaps your Bitch of An Ex), does it matter if this is a discourse, a rant, or a lament? =P

pps: No, this wasn't a boring post at all - very thought-provoking in fact.

ppps: Yes, I am trying to atone for the fact that I visit your blog seldom these days, by spamming your comment box T_____T

fubi said...

speakin from a totally third person perspective without being biased or prejudiced, i'd have to say this is a very spiteful & defensive post T^T

bevE said...


Terri said...

Ah, we finally hear from pheobe!!! :P you're usually the first one to comment!!!

Having said that, I agree about the defensive bit.

bevE said...

she was hiiiiding and sulking to me :D

fubi said...

beverly yeang >_> y u tell d whole world?

hi terri! :D

k0k s3n w4i said...

- yuhhui -: I believe in being completely honest and open too, and I think withholding anything, no matter how insignificant, is going to play heck on the trust in the long run :)

senorita..: u used to be the jealous type? wow, you sure doesn't sound like it xD

zzzyun: time mellows out everything eh? i'm just afraid that instead of acceptance, ppl might just become apathetic - which is even worse than jealousy in the long run.

beve: j's brit and presumably a college student. of course he speaks proper english, u doofus. and whoever said u can't be jealous without love? people are jealous all the time even tho they dun really love their partner... or in fact, ppl are jealous about ppl that aren't even their lovers. and it sounds like i'm defensive cos i'm not the jealous type T^T

jia hui: well, I see you do pop in to comment from time to time. excuse me for my slow replies xD. I know a girl once, who were jealous of his bf's hobby - because he spends so much time on it. and when he stopped it for her, she found that he is less than the person he used to be. you gotta love a person as a whole, all his little quirks and idiosyncrasies. guys are known to ignore their gfs once in awhile to "do their thing" but know where their heart and home's at :)

minwi: how very random.

inn shan: i think trying to make ur partner jealous, trying to get him or her to react just to prove something isn't right. it's childish. I don't believe any kind of jealousy is beneficial, though. maybe ppl ought to be a lot more direct with their love - which i think might actually help than spoil.

michellesy: I don't entertain "what-ifs". I don't care if people believe me or not but I've always been a little proud of myself about it. I try to be happy for other ppl's successes though. it's good for ur heart, in more ways than one. think mudita :D. this post was directed against me, a Bastard of a Boyfriend as it was against my ex. Anyhow, it's not nice to call people names. Let's not be coarse on anyone's account xD

fubi: I actually LOL'ed at your comment xD

terri: of course i was being defensive. it's a post against an idea i am adverse to. I have to defend my opinions. anyhow, regardless of the tone I used, what matters is whether what I said made sense or not =d

bevE said...

u baru admitted to terri u're defensive =.= stupid =d *smack with baguette*

in this case lor in relationships u'd be more inclined to be jealous because u're in love. if the girl dun love u she would prolly think u're shit and not give a damn

fubi said...

yeah whtever beve sed T^T *eats baguette wif butter*