A blog entry on Psychology Today explores the differential underpinnings of jealousy in women and men. The author argues that in general, men are more apt to be jealous when their self-esteem is threatened, while women are more upset if the relationship itself is threatened. Therefore, men become especially jealous when their partners’ lovers or potential lovers possess qualities that they themselves believe they are lacking, whether or not their partners appear to care all that much about these traits. Women, on the other hand, reach great heights of jealousy when they perceive that their partners’ lovers or potential lovers have traits they know their partners value. (The article ignores same-sex relationships.)
- A man of modest means in married to a woman who has a fling with a rich guy. Even if the driving force for the infidelity wasn’t the other man’s wealth, this is what the husband is apt to fixate on, whether or not he especially cares if the marriage survives.
- A sedentary woman who knows her boyfriend appreciates a physically active partner sees him getting friendly with a female marathon runner. Even if the girlfriend sees herself as more attractive in any number of objective ways, the fact that her fears are being confirmed are apt to trigger extreme jealousy.
The author proposes that men are apt to be more jealous if they catch their partners cheating on them with another woman rather than another man, because of the loss-of-control factor; the other woman is clearly offering something no man can. This I’m not sure I buy. But I haven’t been through this and am not jealous by nature, so I am not really qualified to opine.
The concluding paragraph of the blog entry is funny:
In any case, if you decide (after lengthy consideration, of course) to take a lover, and yet you nevertheless want to reduce the pain this causes your partner, please choose a lover whose advantages are less relevant to your partner’s self-image. And if you are in a heterosexual relationship, choosing a same-sex lover is likely to further reduce your partner’s pain (at least in the case of a male partner). It seems that one can sin and still, to some extent, be considerate.
Somehow I don’t think supplying evidence of having planned things out with such diligence is apt to satisfy a lot of jllted people.