Love is not envious

Monday 20th February, 2023

When the guy I was just starting a new relationship with threatened to break the legs of another guy who had been flirting with me it should have been a big red flag.
Instead, I thought it was romantic. I fell in love, we got married and…. Well you know the rest.

We are socially conditioned to see jealousy not only as normal, but as a sign of love. It is not.
From Tom Jones’ Delilah to The Killers Mr Brightside, popular culture has told the story of the jealous lover, driven to kill, so deep is his love.

But jealousy doesn’t arise from love, because love is not envious. Jealousy arises from a sense of entitlement and from a belief that the other person is a possession. Our sense of entitlement causes us to believe we deserve the thing that the other person has, so be it our next door neighbours shiny new car or the body of another person, the envy arises out of indignation that we feel ourselves slighted.

As an emotion, some jealousy is normal. I don’t mean the extreme paranoid jealousy that causes abusive men to be convinced you’re sleeping with every man you see. I mean the everyday stuff. He’s still friends with his ex and they grab a coffee from time to time; it’s normal to feel some insecurity. Your friend at work gets the promotion you wanted; of course the green eyed monster will make an appearance. But love demands that our behaviour is not dictated by envy. Instead, we trust our partner having a coffee with a friend, we don’t interrogate them or snoop on them, we remind ourselves that they’re with us because they love us. We congratulate our colleague, we remind ourselves that they also worked hard for the promotion and we celebrate their success with them. That’s the choice love makes.

If your partner is obsessively jealous, it’s a danger sign. It’s not a sign he is so in love with you, if he were, he would choose to trust you, he would choose to get his jealousy under control. Love does not envy.