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Ways to Understand Jealousy
By Ashley Brooks, eHow Contributor
Jealousy is an emotion that everyone has felt at one time or another. A coworker gets a promotion, a family member buys a lavish car, you peek at your partner making eyes at someone else...all occasions when we might feel jealousy. Unchecked, jealousy can ruin friendships, relationships and family ties. Understanding why jealousy occurs and what jealousy means can help you gain control of your emotions.

Feelings of insecurity are the basis of jealousy. We all cherish and want to protect our relationships, friendships, possessions and self-worth. When something happens--a promotion we wanted, a purchase we can't afford, a look we can't ignore--it challenges our perceived ownership of the things (or people) we believe we have. "Jealousy is a reaction to a perceived threat--real or imagined--to a valued relationship or to its quality," wrote A.M. Pines and C.F. Bowes in the article "Romantic Jealousy." In this sense, jealousy occurs because we feel threatened; recognizing that threat often makes us question our place, which in turn makes us feel insecure.

Normal and Delusional Jealousy
A.M. Pines and C.F. Bowes argue that there are two types of jealousy: normal and delusional jealousy. Normal jealousy happens when you feel jealousy about something that has actually happened. Delusional jealousy occurs when your suspicions fuel your jealousy. If you suspect that your partner is cheating only because he seems particularly cheerful after going out with friends, that is delusional jealousy. The next step in recovering from jealousy is recognizing whether your feelings are from something that has actually happened or the result of a wild imagination.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of understanding jealousy is understanding (and confronting) the fear it incites in us. Most often, romantic jealousy makes us question how solid our relationships are, while friendship jealousy makes us question how important we are to our friends. Humans are social creatures, and we often carry with us a fear of abandonment. Confronting this fear is an important step in combating jealousy, and sharing it with those we trust can bring a sense of closure to our jealousy. If you're feeling distanced from your friends because they are spending time with others, be upfront about it. Don't judge, accuse, or criticize. Take a proactive approach and invite your friends out for a night on the town. Part of what makes the feelings of jealousy so painful and consuming is that often we (mistakenly) attempt to deal with those feelings alone. Remembering that our friends and partners are the people we chose to trust in the first place can help us further recover from our feelings of jealousy.


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