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On jealousy

Let it henceforth be known that you may do anything you like with my friends, or my casual fucks. If they consent to it then you may touch them, kiss them and shag them in whatever depraved manner and in whatever tantric position gives the most pleasure to the two of you at the time.

But if you touch the boy I love I will tear you into a billion pieces. I will scatter those pieces across the globe, then spend the rest of my life retracing my steps so that I can stamp on each individual one of them until you are ground into a shower of dust.

Jealousy isn’t as bad as we think

The key argument against jealousy is that it implies ownership. I don’t think that’s true. Ownership of a certain kind is good – whether your relationship is open or monogamous there’s a delicious thrill in being able to say “he’s mine.”

It doesn’t mean that you own that person completely, and feeling jealous does not in fact give you any rights at all over the other person. But part of mutual love is giving a tiny bit of yourself up to the other person. And being jealous is your way of saying “I give a shit about this. This is significant.”

But there’s a world of difference between being a bit possessive – “I want you all to myself you scrummy pile of gorgeousness” – and being so jealous that it becomes destructive – “I don’t want you to see your best friend any more because I’m worried that you fancy them.”

Jealousy is still really fucking bad

The key problem with jealousy is that it is arational. There’s nothing inherently green-eyed-and-evil about getting angry with your monogamous partner for snogging someone else – they broke your agreement, so you have a right to be angry. Your possession of this person extends up to (but not beyond) an expectation that they don’t have sexual contact with anyone else.

The problem with real, steaming, burning jealousy is that it is prompted by things that – to a rational observer – are not a cause for rage at all. Some wholly innocent events have our inner Iago stampeding out from the recesses of our brain screaming “I like not that!”

The receipt of a flirty text. A look interpreted as meaningful. A feeling that your partner’s too close to a certain person. A desire – a need – to know not just what they want to tell you but all the private things in their head as well.

And some people feel this more than others – some have a tendency to quiz their partners, go through pockets and trample on their privacy to get at whatever their gut tells them must be the truth. So as kind, understanding humans we need to try and comprehend why our partners feel this way. I’m not talking about giving in and letting them strip-search you because you were late home from work, but having patience and being willing to discuss the issue can – in my experience – do a hell of a lot to assuage the arational anger that is jealousy.

You’re probably better than I am

I am a terribly jealous person. I’ve destroyed nights out because I worried that boys weren’t paying me enough attention. I’ve ranted about that bitch from their work who won’t stop flirting. I’ve – oh God, my blood runs cold to write the words down – I’ve read a boy’s emails.

As expected, none of these things did me any good. Because at the end of the day, although it’s nice to know you’re wanted, no one’s partner ever said “hey, do that cute thing where you interrogate me about my close friends again, before reading my text messages behind my back.”

So just as we have a responsibility to be faithful (whatever ‘faithful’ means within your relationships), and a responsibility to be understanding when our partners occasionally swerve into unnecessary jealous rages, those of us who do tend towards jealousy also have a responsibility to be rational.

Our partners have chosen us, and that’s really significant – they’re not going to un-choose us in a hurry. And the majority of people are more likely to stumble into an innocent situation that causes one’s jealousy to flare up than they are to casually fuck a passing stranger. Boring, I know, but it’s the rational truth.

So, in relationships as elsewhere in life, we need to ignore our emotions occasionally and examine things with a rational head. Consider whether an innocent explanation is more likely. Step away from our partner’s phone and avoid reading their texts. We need to listen to our brain rather than the seething rage in our gut. When our inner Iago says “I like not that” we need to tell him to fuck off.