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Part of the dictionary definition of jealousy states that jealousy is "a state of fear, suspicion or envy caused by a real or imagined threat to one's possessive instincts."  It also says that jealousy is "a zealous desire to preserve an existing situation or relationship."  Both of these states of mind, no matter how we look at it, prevent us from living our lives as happy, loving people who are getting the most out of all our gifts.

The envious side of jealousy has been covered on the "envy" page--envy is a reflection of our dissatisfaction with ourselves, our desire to be like someone else or have the things that someone else has.  The dictionary's definition of jealousy is interesting, though, in the fact that it includes the concepts of fear and suspicion, two other elements of life that definitely keep us from getting the most of our lives.  I may be jealous of the newcomer in the office because I'm afraid that he or she is going to take my job, because I see qualities in that person that I don't see in myself.  Or I may be afraid that my wife or girlfriend is going to like this new man she just met better than she likes me, again because of qualities that I see in that person that I don't see in myself.

Which brings us to the second element of jealousy, the one that's incredibly common among people--the "zealous" desire to maintain a relationship.  The jealous person is a horrible person to be in a relationship with, for that person shows no trust at all in his or her partner.  

While the jealous person sees his or her actions (which are covetous) as a sign of his or her love, everyone else sees the actions as the obsessive traits that they are--an obsessive desire to possess, beyond any doubt, another person.

I've known women who wouldn't even talk to any men at all because they were afraid of what their boyfriends or husbands would do if they found out that "their woman" was talking to another guy.  These women were, without exception, isolated and lonely and unhappy, but they were also unwilling to leave their partners--mostly because of fear.  The obvious fear was of what their boyfriends or husbands would do, but there was also a fear of being alone there; they were afraid that they might not find another man to be with, and they were unwilling to risk loneliness.

The jealousy of their partners was ruining their lives, but I also have to wonder just how happy the jealous men were.  Yes, they had their "possessions"--their women--but what else did they have?  They certainly didn't have peace of mind, and they had no trust at all.  They had a partner who stayed with them more out of fear than out of love or respect, and they were alienating many people by their jealousy.

Of course, there are explanations for their jealousy.  Maybe they didn't have much when they were kids, and they're afraid of losing things now.  Maybe because of situations in their past they  have a need to control now.  But no explanation can take away the fact that they're making themselves and others unhappy now, today.  An alcoholic's abusive childhood may explain behavior, but the explanation can't bring back the family the was killed when the alcoholic was driving drunk.  The jealous person needs to learn trust--most of all, trust in him or herself, trust that he or she is a worthwhile individual who deserves love and respect, and who will receive it as a matter of course from decent people who love and respect others.

Many jealous people, I've noticed, tend to surround themselves with untrustworthy people.  Maybe this is a way of perpetuating or justifying or rationalizing their jealousy, allowing it to continue unabated.  Maybe it's a reflection of what they think of themselves--since they don't trust themselves, they can't trust others, and being around untrustworthy people allows them to feel that their lack of trust is normal.  No matter what, though, these jealous people are hurting themselves and others-- sometimes even physically--and if unchecked, jealousy is always a damaging factor in our lives.  My hope is that the jealous people will learn to love and trust themselves as the great people they were created to be, and allow that trust to spill over to others in their lives.


Jealousy is the greatest of all evils, and the least pitied by those who cause it.

La Rochefoucauld

To jealousy, nothing is more frightful than laughter.

Francoise Sagan



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Jealousy would be far less torturous if we understood that
love is a passion entirely unrelated to our merits.

Paul Eldridges

Jealousy is an inner consciousness of one's own inferiority.
It is a mental cancer.

B.C. Forbes


Jealousy is not a barometer by which the depth of love can be read.
It merely records the degree of the lover's insecurity.

Margaret Mead


The jealous are troublesome to others, but torment to themselves.

William Penn


Jealousy, that dragon which slays love under the pretense of keeping it alive.

Havelock Ellis

Articles and book excerpts on jealousy:

A Cry of Pain      tom walsh

There is no greater glory than love, nor any greater punishment than jealousy.

Lope de Vega

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.

H.G. Wells


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A jealous person is doubly unhappy--over what he has, which is judged
inferior, and over which he has not, which is judged superior.  Such a
person is doubly removed from knowing the true blessing of creation.

Desmond Tutu


Jealousy is simply and clearly the fear that you do not have value and,
therefore, that nothing is safe.
   Jealousy scans like a beacon searching for evidence to prove the point--
that others will be preferred and rewarded more than you.
   Jealousy can be a burning pain, as a particular lover chooses another,
or a dull lifetime ache of comparison to everything and everyone.
   There is one alternative--self-value.  If you cannot love yourself, you
will not believe you are loved.  You will always think it's a mistake, or
luck.  Take your eyes of others and turn the scanner within.  Find the
seeds of your jealousy, clear the old voices and experiences.  Put all the
energy into building your personal and emotional security.
   Then you will be the one others envy, and you can remember the pain
and reach out to them.

Jennifer James
Success Is the Quality of Your Journey


Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often
mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater
the jealousy - in fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion
hardly leaves room for the other.

Robert A. Heinlein
Stranger in a Strange Land

You can only be jealous of someone who has something
you think you ought to have yourself.

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

Jealousy has always been my cross, the weakness and woundedness in me
that has most often caused me to feel ugly and unlovable, like the Bad Seed.

Anne Lamott
Grace (Eventually)


Jealousy in romance is like salt in food.  A little can enhance the savor,
but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain
circumstances, can be life-threatening.

Maya Angelou

The jealous bring down the curse they fear upon their own heads.

Dorothy Dix

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