When my kids were little, they loved our childless next door neighbors, who showered them with treats and ice cream trips – from their point of view, what’s not to love? And did I twinge with just a little bit with jealousy when they wanted to ride in their car, walk with them, sit with them, etc? Of course I did – who doesn’t dislike being passed over?
Or how about “sharing” your daughter with her new mother-in-law (who only has sons) – does that make you feel jealous and resentful of the time they spend together? It’s important that they develop a good relationship together, which really has nothing to do with you – still it’s a potential point of contention… or is it?
The level of relationship jealousy you feel in a situation depends on your own self-esteem in your role. The more confidence you feel in your relationship with the other person, the easier it is to not begrudge them time spent with another person.
I had a close friend who I helped get through a rough divorce and I was happy to be there for her. But over time, she dated and remarried and now I barely see her anymore. As this was happening, I was annoyed and resentful that I was essentially replaced in her world. Of course I should have been happy for her in her new life, but deep down I realized that I was hurt that I was no longer important to her.
Was it a matter of a friendship that had simply run its course? Or was it that because I was jealous of the new spouse, that I was no longer a good friend? Here’s where jealousy hurts a relationship. I never communicated my feelings to her, when there was a chance of repairing the friendship. And in the space of that long silence we drifted apart, perhaps unnecessarily.
The popular TV show Modern Family had a great scene dealing with this issue – Claire was big in the PTA and Gloria wanted to help out with a school event, but Claire kept rebuffing and thwarting Gloria’s efforts. Eventually, as happens more on TV than in real life, Claire told Gloria that the PTA was “my thing” and she didn’t want to share the limelight. She enjoyed the importance of her PTA role and felt jealous when Gloria proved to be equally effective, thereby diminishing Claire’s view of herself (which doesn’t have to happen). Once again, it’s jealousy due to insecurity of one’s perceived influence in the situation. A confident person is rarely jealous.
COMMUNICATION TAKEAWAY: When you experience the negative emotion of jealousy in a relationship, which happens to all of us in varying degrees (“she likes you more than she likes me”), stop and think about the importance of this relationship to you. If it is important at all, communicate your feelings, perhaps unwarranted but felt just the same, to get the reassurance you need not to let the jealousy fester into something much deeper. Do it before it becomes too late to repair the damage and the relationship is ruined.
QUESTION: Have you seen jealousy ruin a good relationship? Did you catch the point when it could still have been communicated and saved?