Understanding Jealousy

Jealousy is a complex emotion that encompasses feelings ranging from fear of abandonment to rage and humiliation. Jealousy strikes both men and women and is most typically aroused when a person perceives a threat to a valued relationship from a third party. The threat may be real or perceived. It is not limited to romantic relationships but also can arise among siblings competing for parental attention or in friendships. Jealousy is distinguished from envy in that jealousy always involves a third party seen as a rival for affection. Envy occurs between two people and is best summed up as "I want what you have."  Although jealousy is a painful emotional experience, evolutionary psychologists regard it not as an emotion to be suppressed but as one to heed—it is a signal, a wake-up call, that a valued relationship is in danger and steps need to be taken to regain the affection of one's mate or friend. In this regard, jealousy is a necessary emotion because it preserves social bonds. It motivates people to engage in behaviors that maintain an important relationship.

Recent posts on Jealousy

Do Cleaner Shrimp Get Jealous?

By Peter Toohey Ph.D. on February 17, 2017 in Annals of the Emotions
The jealous triangle is usually reckoned to be one on one, with the prize, say, a lover. But it’s not all sex, it’s not all one on one, and it’s not all humans.

My Daughter Has Been Rejecting Me for Years

By Barbara Greenberg Ph.D. on February 09, 2017 in The Teen Doctor
How to deal with rejection from your young adult daughter.
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Kristen and Dax: Can You Cheat Jealousy?

By Jane Greer Ph.D. on February 06, 2017 in Shrink Wrap
A united front?

Are Thoughts of Your Ex's Past Lovers Still Haunting You?

Why is it so painful to think about your ex's sexual encounters, when you won them back in the end? Read along for five possible reasons that your heart is still aching.

Talking About the Affair

By Michele Weiner-Davis MSW on January 30, 2017 in Divorce Busting
If the betrayed spouse has endless questions about what happened, should he or she ask?

Who Killed JonBenet?

By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. on January 18, 2017 in Evil Deeds
What can forensic psychology tell us about the still unsolved JonBenet Ramsey case?

Good Divorce Advice: Resist the Urge to Compare

By Wendy Paris on January 17, 2017 in Splitopia
It can be hard to avoid negative self-comparison, but you want to remain focused on your own path.

Why Is Your Partner’s Smartphone Use an Issue?

By Martin Graff Ph.D. on January 11, 2017 in Love, Digitally
Smartphones provide a way for people to stay closely connected with family and friends, but what impact do they have on romantic partners and relationships?

My Divorced Father Is Dating & I Am Jealous

By Barbara Greenberg Ph.D. on January 03, 2017 in The Teen Doctor
Handling Jealousy About A Parent's Dating

10 Reasons Why We Never Forget Our Childhood Bullies

By Barbara Greenberg Ph.D. on December 17, 2016 in The Teen Doctor
What we all remember about our childhood bullies.

Recovery from Betrayal and Infidelity Part I

We’ve lost count of the number of times that we have heard from those who have been unfaithful in their partnerships, that “if I’d known then what I know now..."

When Love Becomes Infiltrated by Hate

Passionate love and hate are obsessive emotions, whereas indifference is a a kind of numbness that likely sparks an absence of action as opposed to reaction.

Infidelity, Open Relationships, and Polyamory

Some romantic partners are convinced that they can provide everything the other person needs. Not so.

Why We Hate Our Exes

Your craving for a dopamine fix that only your ex can provide can also make you angry and hateful toward the one person who is withholding your "drug" from you: your ex.

10 Essential Tips for Long-Term Love

By Roni Beth Tower Ph.D., ABPP on November 18, 2016 in Life, Refracted
Strategies that will help you transform the initial feelings of love into a life-long relationship.

In Ralph Nader's New Book, Animals Speak for Themselves

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 14, 2016 in Animal Emotions
In Ralph Nader's new book animals hold "The Great Talkout" and tell us what they want and need. In an interview with Mr. Nader he tells us about "Animal Envy" and much more.

Jealousy as a Narcissistic Wound

A psychological state that feels like jealousy to one person may not feel like jealousy to another.

Feeling Happy for Others Can Make You Happy

By Toni Bernhard J.D. on November 02, 2016 in Turning Straw Into Gold
Here’s my recipe letting other people’s joy make you happy. The true wonder of this is that the more you’re able to feel happy for others, the happier you’ll feel yourself.

Jealousy In Animals and Envy in Humans

By Peter Toohey Ph.D. on October 29, 2016 in Annals of the Emotions
Jealousy is usually said to be a character flaw in humans and in animals. But is it? Could learning to be jealous simply be the reflection of a normal character type?

I Am Caught Between My Daughter And Her Stepmother

By Barbara Greenberg Ph.D. on October 25, 2016 in The Teen Doctor
What To Do When Your Wife Dislikes Your Child

Tinder and Lasting Love?

What is Tinder? What can it lead to? Why are people on it? I decided to dive deeper and find the answers to those questions.

The True Nature of Jealousy

We usually know how to identify jealousy when it appears, and we can tell when someone else experiences jealousy, based on their actions—but what exactly is jealousy?

5 Ways Money Issues Can Ruin Relationships

By Andrea Bonior Ph.D. on September 23, 2016 in Friendship 2.0
Issues surrounding money are one of the most common conflicts within relationships, even where there is plenty of love. Here are five ways that money damages partnerships.

The Antidote to Envy

Envy tells us that someone, somewhere has it all—but it just isn’t true. The best we can do is be thankful for what we have and try to do something useful with it.

The Downside of Narcissism

By Roberta Satow Ph.D. on September 19, 2016 in Life After 50
Despite the pleasure of feeling like everything revolves around you, feeling like the sun has certain disadvantages as well—it makes other people angry and envious.

The Ubiquity of Envy Is Fueling an Epidemic of Entitlement

By Christopher Bergland on September 19, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Of four basic personality types, a new study reports that "Envious" was the most common. How is envy linked to the epidemic of entitlement? What can we do to break this cycle?

When You Stay in Touch With an Ex

By Gwendolyn Seidman Ph.D. on September 18, 2016 in Close Encounters
New research shows having contact with an ex could harm a new relationship; whether it does depends on the motives for staying in touch.

I'm Not Sure How To Give My Daughter Relationship Advice

By Barbara Greenberg Ph.D. on September 14, 2016 in The Teen Doctor
What To Say To Your Daughter Who Is Having Boyfriend Trouble

Why You and Your Partner Need to Celebrate Each Other

It's a bonding experience when our partner helps celebrate our successes and is not envious of our good fortune.

Mentally Strong People Don't Resent Other People's Success

Seeing people have what you want can be hard. But resenting their success will rob you of mental strength.