Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A few thoughts on jealousy

Today a friend of mine was telling me about his T.A. evaluation forms. As a general rule, if you are remotely attractive, you will get at least one comment completely irrelevant to your teaching skills about your appearance (I guess that's what happens when you give undergrads the powers of anonymity). My personal favourite that I have received was "Strength: Hot. Weakness: Not enough information presented" (come on- couldn't you have given me an equally shallow weakness, like saying you hated my shoes?)

Anyways, my friend apparently (and comically) received a comment about a student's fondness for his pecs. Shockingly, his girlfriend (who is notorious for his controlling ways-- my friends and I are in her bad books for keeping a 27 year old man out past midnight) did not find this amusing or flattering. She was actually jealous, and told him that he was going to have to start wearing more to class. What... like twelve layers so that the outline of his chest is suitably shadowed?


Evolutionary psychologists argue that jealousy is evolutionary advantageous, in that it serves to prevent the negative effects of infidelity and partner loss on our reproductive success. However, I am generally of the mind that jealousy is one of the more wasteful emotions. It has the capacity to sap our thoughts and emotions dry, and in its extreme forms, probably is more successful in driving people towards the very things it supposedly evolved to prevent.

Overall, I'm a believer in trust, perhaps in part because I know my partners have good reason to trust me. This is not to say that it hasn't bitten me in the past, but I have been pretty lucky. Besides, really, would jealousy have prevented any past betrayals or infidelities? Is someone who is bent on cheating going to be swayed by their partner's irritation or accusations?

While I do recognize a few twinges as relatively natural (my ex's ex-girlfriend, who he remained friends with, was actually in a rap video in her bikini... I grated my teeth really hard when he wanted to record the video), I don't react well to it being thrown about my way in any excessive form. Perhaps it is because I know I am trustworthy-- but I actually get very defiant if any accusations come my way. Even worse is the patronizing jealousy, such as past boyfriends suggesting that they have the right to be jealous because I am so naive as to my male friends lecherous intentions.

It just seems weird that we live in a culture where possessiveness is a greater sign of love than trust.


And a lesson of the day, thrown in for good measures: Jealousy even has its own paraphilia (aka. fetish)-- zelophilia!


Crashdummie said...

Loved the post!

My favorite jealousy cliché is when a guy tells you: “I trust you, but I just don’t trust the people at the bar/street/office”.


iFreud said...

I think that you are correct in all your observations about jealousy. It is illogical, irrational and basically fruitless.

However, I am prone to jealousy, and it is an emotion I have little control over. I WISH I was less jealous. It takes a lot for me to deal with it when it occurs, and override it. Perhaps it is a personality trait moreso than just a state of mind?

Abbey said...

Hey! I didn't get a single comment about my attractiveness in my course evals! I'm totally interpreting that as an affront to my self-esteem. All future classes will be taught in less clothing. I'll show those students who's hot!

Airam said...

So true and I completely agree with you. Nothing can sour a romance like jealousy. It's just not an attractive trait.

Lin-Zed said...

I completely agree. "I trust you, but not the people at the bar"...that's not really trust at all. I also find it to be rather insulting.
That being said...a little jealousy...in moderation...can be flattering and a bit of a turn-on. I just don't want to fight about it and I don't want it to be definitive of the relationship. I think that's where trust comes in.

LMizzle said...

I'd say if Steve got a compliment in a class, or anywhere really, that it's just a testament to him being a good dude, and that I have good taste!

I would have been a little miffed at the bikini video taping as well, after all, you broke up, and even if you are friends still, why would you need to tape something sexual like that?

I wouldn't tape a video of the Duke in a bikini, but I think we're all glad that he will likely never do this anyhow...well, sober at least...

The Duke said...

Yeah, people love banging people who are jealous. So. Hot.

Evoluntionary psyc is fucked because those guys never get laid.

Ant said...

I agree with this whole-heartedly. It is incredibly negative and energy-sapping, and is a serious turn-off in the relationship. Not just from the point of view that it's so frickin' tedious, but because it usually smacks of uber-neediness.

And that's something that makes me run for the hills...

Anonymous said...

A little jealousy can be flattering, but too much and it becomes something that you resent in the other person. Especially when it's seriously illogical to the point of the other person needing to see a head doctor.