Pop culture has often romanticised the emotion of jealousy. As a result, many are confused and keep coming back to the same question. Is jealousy healthy in a relationship? Dr Kedar Tilwe, consultant psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital Mulund and Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, attempts to answer this question.
When this emotion becomes a cause of concern
Jealousy is a complex emotion. It encompasses thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern over a potential loss or inequity of distribution of resources. In the context of relationships, it’s often an emotion that crops up when you are deeply involved with a person. While mild jealousy is normal, it becomes a negative emotion when it leads to over aggressive behaviour.
Is jealousy healthy in a relationship?
Dr Kedar shares, “Jealousy becomes a concern in a relationship when it leads to significant marital discord or causes a person to react in unhealthy ways. This can range from loss of self-esteem and feelings of personal inadequacy, to overt aggressiveness.”
Signs of healthy and unhealthy jealousy
Signs of healthy jealousy may include sensitivity to criticism, comparison and even praise when demonstrated towards the other person. Occasionally when jealousy is about intimacy, there may be subtle demonstration of possessiveness and overprotective gestures but all done in good humour. Signs of unhealthy jealousy include anger outbursts, mood swings, threatening and stalking behaviour, paranoia. Overt hostile-injurious behaviour directed towards self or others is also a troubling sign to watch out for.
How to navigate unhealthy jealousy
A couple may need the help of a mental health expert to help the partner battling extreme jealousy. It’s important to understand why your partner is feeling the way they are. Acknowledge those feelings instead of ignoring them. Discuss and mutually agree on a way forward. The partner battling these extreme emotions also needs to take responsibility for these feelings. Actively pursue ways to resolve the root cause of this extreme fear, anxiety and insecurity. Sometimes, words of affirmation and small gestures can make a huge difference. However, in other cases, counselling and therapy may be needed.