Why are people jealous?

What is jealousy and whether it is necessary to fight it?

Jealousy is an unpleasant feeling that is difficult to experience. It occurs when we feel that a loved one gives attention and love to someone else. People want to keep what is important to them, and with the help of jealousy, they demonstrate their partner’s importance. But uncontrollable jealousy, especially frequent outbursts, can escalate into anger, provoke feelings of guilt, and lead to conflict. In these situations, jealousy can become a cause that destroys relationships.

Let’s understand why we are jealous, do we need jealousy and when we should fight it.

Who is jealous and why?

Jealousy is a complex psychological phenomenon, an acquired reaction that we show in certain, different for each situation. The feeling of jealousy appears and develops in childhood. Children may be jealous of one parent over another, or of a brother or sister over their parents.

The first similar feeling a child feels when he or she is weaned. This feeling of resentment, injustice, and rejection by the mother is a normal new experience that later becomes the basis for feelings of jealousy. Teenagers are jealous of their friends and lovers, and this feeling can consume young boys and girls with low self-esteem.

Jealousy appears as a reaction to injustice, because of anxiety and feelings of helplessness, inability to express love or egocentrism – non-acceptance of other points of view than one’s own.

For adults, the reasons for jealousy lie in fear of not receiving the attention of a significant other, of losing the attention and love of loved ones, and also in envy of someone because of their accomplishments, living conditions, and other reasons. The main factor in the manifestation of jealousy is the feeling of a threat to something important, and the threat may be far-fetched. We are most jealous in romantic relationships.

Why should we be jealous?

Jealousy is inherent in every human being: Evolutionarily, it has established itself as a necessary response because it helps us survive. First, pain or sadness prevents us from acting quickly and accurately. Jealousy helps to overcome this, to feel threatened and to try to solve the problem quickly. Second, jealousy is part of the rivalry with which man has faced most of his historical existence. It has helped to compete for a sexual partner and other important and limited resources.

The characteristics of competition have influenced the way in which female and male jealousy differ. The evolutionary meaning of male jealousy is to shield itself from raising other people’s offspring, which was not uncommon in polygamy. Since the male could not be 100% sure that he was wasting his energy on raising his own offspring, jealousy became stronger in relation to sexual infidelity.

For females the situation was different: females tried to make sure that all possible resources were spent by the partner only on her and her offspring. These resources were not to go to others, because this was the guarantee of survival. Therefore, female jealousy is stronger with regard to emotional cheating, when the partner pays more attention to the other woman.

Veronika Pivkina, a psychologist in private practice, explains, “In psychology, no feeling is considered unimportant, even anger, sadness and jealousy are needed for something. They help us, but some of their manifestations may be socially unacceptable: in such cases, people may consider themselves bad because of it.

Jealousy helps us keep a couple together because we have always sought to leave more offspring. Culture and society offer us very different norms of behavior and values. In addition, we can look at jealousy as a point of development: the display of negatively colored emotions demonstrates our weaknesses. For example, one woman is jealous of her partner for another woman on the grounds that she is slimmer. This happens because of internal complexes, and to solve the problem, you first need to work on yourself.

Jealousy is inherent in everyone, and to feel it is normal. It is a feeling that has been fixed in us for survival, because for most of our history we have had to fight to survive. Now a woman is able to raise a child on her own, and jealousy for survival is unnecessary. It is no longer necessary to hold on to a partner no matter what, it is more important to build a comfortable and healthy relationship. Jealousy is worth accepting, but at the same time do not let it take control: strong and aggressive outbursts of jealousy destroy relationships and harm everyone.

What to do with jealousy in a relationship

Uncontrolled manifestations of jealousy can destroy relationships, because they are often associated with aggression and humiliation of the dignity of the partner. In a healthy relationship, this should not happen.

“A person may be afraid of losing his partner and not show jealousy openly. Then he torments himself by secretly checking his partner’s things, reading his messages, starting to spy on him. These are unhealthy manifestations of jealousy that wear a person down. All the energy that could have been spent on something useful and productive, goes to jealousy,” says Veronica Pivkina.

Build an open, trusting relationship with a friend or partner in which you can calmly discuss the situation, feelings and problems. Silencing negative feelings is not the answer, because over time it will lead to an uncontrollable emotional outburst.

To avoid negative emotional situations like outbursts of jealousy, partners should trust each other.

Veronica Pivkina tells how to work on feelings of jealousy:

“Working on relationships is primarily a work on themselves for each of the partners. It is worth paying attention to self-esteem: If a person is not confident in himself, then jealousy will always occur in response to the fact that next to the partner of someone who seems better than himself. It is important not to run the problem to an acute state, because then it will be harder and longer to solve it. Of course, it is easier to work with a specialist: this way it is possible to differentiate between the mistakes of perception of different partners, to look at the situation with an open mind. But if a person feels that he or she is capable of coping independently, normal specialists only encourage this desire. I believe that the work of a psychologist is precisely to provide the tools for overcoming the problem independently. An open, trusting conversation with your partner in a calm tone can help with this. Let him know what’s bothering you, when and why you felt jealous. Ask your partner to help you deal with the situation and emotions.”

When jealousy signals danger

Jealousy is often romanticized and associated with love. The feeling of love is often accompanied by the fear of losing it, but jealousy is not only a manifestation of that fear. Jealousy and love must be separated. “Authoritarian, self-centered people are sure that there is their opinion and the wrong one. They only want things to be as they see them and think it is acceptable. If such a self-centered partner cheats and yet finds such behavior unacceptable, they may think the other partner is behaving the same way. This is projected jealousy, which helps him to transfer responsibility and calm his conscience: he attacks to reduce his sense of guilt,” says psychologist.

Projected jealousy may indicate that you are in a toxic relationship. Such a relationship brings you emotional pain, deplete internal resources, negatively affect self-esteem, prevent the realization of their goals and prevent personal growth.

Toxic relationships and projected jealousy often escalate into abusive relationships. A self-centered partner ignores, scandalizes, insults, tries to ruin your life in every way, or even beats you. In such situations, it does not help to talk, and it is better to suspend as soon as possible. It is not always possible to cope with the actions of such a partner on your own, so you should not be afraid to ask for help, at the very least – ask friends or relatives for support.

If you encounter your partner’s aggression, call the Crisis Counseling Hotline: 8 (7172) 38-03-06. Psychological support is provided by professional psychologists of the service, who have received special training. Working hours are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you are in danger, call the emergency number 112 or directly to the police at number 102.

No one has the right to bully another person: neither physically nor morally. Any display of aggression or humiliation of your dignity is an alarming signal. Don’t escalate the situation to serious consequences.

Jealousy can produce outbursts of aggression when a person is unable to control himself or herself. On the basis of such emotions, crimes are committed, and in some cases the experience develops into paranoid delusions of jealousy – one of the manifestations of schizophrenia or mental disorder as a result of alcoholism. In such a condition, the person is dangerous to others. In criminology, jealousy is considered one of the motives for domestic crimes.


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What is jealousy and how to deal with it

The fire of jealousy will make a relationship brighter or destroy it to the ground. Both men and women are susceptible to this feeling, but for different reasons. About how jealousy appears and how to deal with it, tell practicing psychologists.

What is jealousy and why it occurs

Jealousy in ancient times was the reason for the establishment of monogamy. When couples and families began to form, there were worries and fears about the faithfulness of the partner.

The concept of jealousy

Men are more jealous than women. The basic basis for men’s jealousy is anxiety about the lineage of their heirs. If a woman knows for sure that she is the mother of the child, a man may doubt his paternity. Therefore, even the faintest hint of the possibility of physical infidelity causes jealousy in members of the stronger sex.

Jealousy in women has other reasons. For them, the emotional attachment of the man is important, which gives a sense of security. A loving partner will stay in the family and take care of the chosen one, so for women, emotional infidelity – a man falling in love with another – is traumatic.

In general, both male and female jealousy are described as a bright, but destructive emotional sense of possessiveness, which enhances selfishness, the desire to undivided disposal of another person. It manifests itself in distrust, suspicion, painful doubts about the fidelity and love of a partner.

Types and causes of jealousy: Freepick

Types and causes of occurrence

There are such types of jealousy:

  1. Rational. Occurs when there is a real threat of loss of an object of love.
  2. Irrational. Relying not on reality, but on imagination and fantasy. It is prone to people with an inferiority complex, who suffered mental trauma in childhood. As noted by psychiatrists M. Lyubchenko, O. Yevlakova and others, it is inadequate, unreasonable behavior, which reaches the pathological level. It occurs in people with mental deviations (schizophrenia, paranoid disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction).

The origins (causes) of jealousy should be sought in child-parent relationships, or in the structure of a person’s personality:

  1. An adult is jealous because of lack of love in childhood, physical or sexual abuse, genetic predisposition, childhood psychological trauma.
  2. Jealousy appears because of insecurity, low self-esteem, inferiority complex.
  3. Often people are jealous because of emotional dependence, fear of losing the object of love or loneliness, an excessive sense of ownership, a desire to possess another person.
  4. The neurotic need for control also generates jealousy.

It also happens that a partner gives a reason for jealousy. Such provocation can be both conscious and unconscious. The latter option is caused by a desire to get proof of love.

Psychotherapist Tatiana Koroleva reminds us that everything, including jealousy, is good in moderation. Moderate doses of jealousy tones relationships and feelings. But when jealousy takes pathological forms, it becomes dangerous. The transformation of this feeling into a disorder is indicated by such behavioral traits of the jealous person:

  • Regular checking of a partner’s phone, mail, social media, and personal belongings;
  • Persistent belief in infidelity without the presence of supporting facts;
  • insomnia;
  • loss of appetite, weight loss;
  • aggressive behavior.

Pathological jealousy destroys relationships, so it is important to work with such feelings, and it is possible to cope with them.

How to deal with jealousy

Psychotherapist Vyacheslav Filashihin explains that when jealousy is a reaction to real events (the departure of a loved one to another, unrequited love, lack of attention), it is not necessary to fight it. This is a normal reaction, which should wait it out and try to switch to something else (work, hobbies).

How to combat jealousy: Freepick

If jealousy occurs frequently and not always justifiably, psychologist specializing in family and existential psychotherapy, Sasha Strogonova recommends several options for working with this feeling.

Translate jealousy into the physical field

When feelings of jealousy are overwhelming, try to transform it from the mental field to the physical field. To do this:

  1. Beat a pillow or tear up paper.
  2. Take a contrasting shower.
  3. Actively dance or squirm.

This way the feeling and the negative energy associated with it will leave both mind and body.

Be honest with your partner

It is important not to hide your feelings and not to be afraid to talk about it:

  1. Calmly explain to your partner what’s bothering you.
  2. Share your fears, describe the moments when jealousy awakens.

Together it is easier to cope with groundless jealousy. If it turns out that there are grounds, it will be possible to look deeper into the problems that exist in the relationship.


Since jealousy is often born out of low self-esteem and an inferiority complex, it is important to engage in self-education to stimulate the mind and sports to exercise the body.

Think about what you want and can become better at. Make a clear plan to achieve these goals and implement it. Self-confident people are not tormented by jealousy. Various hobbies and interests move the focus of attention from your partner and do not leave room for negative thoughts.

If jealousy covers the whole mind, subordinates behavior, changes perception, you need help from a psychotherapist or psychiatrist:

  1. Non-severe cases of pathological jealousy manifest themselves as intrusive thoughts, but the person retains a critical attitude and understands that he or she cannot cope with it independently.
  2. In severe cases, jealousy becomes delusional (erroneous conclusions cannot be dissuaded), critical understanding of the situation is lost and qualified help from a specialist is required.

Thus, in its mild form jealousy can be useful for a relationship, but with pathological jealousy can and should be worked with. It is not necessary to form a negative life experience, and even more so to live in fear of losing your partner. Frankness will help you find the causes of jealousy and deal with it.

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