"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,
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