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A while ago, I watched a TED talk by Alain de Botton—he was talking about love.
Within the hour-long talk, he joked about how when we first meet someone, we should ask each other in what way we are crazy.
I laughed. But I also thought, he’s kind of right, you know? And maybe it’s funny because it’s true.
Let’s get all the dark stuff out of the way first, rather than surprise our partner with it further down the line, and give ourselves the option to opt-out before anything weird rears its little head.
So, in anticipation of this being the way, when I first started seeing my boyfriend, I informed him (much to the horror of my girlfriends) that I am prone to little bouts of jealousy. I forewarned him that sometimes my reaction to this feeling within myself could be somewhat, well…irrational at times. To give him credit, he didn’t look too alarmed and simply asked me what triggered this.
And we talked about it.
And whenever it does rear its little head—which it inevitably does—we talk about it again.
My friends didn’t altogether approve of this. I mean, why on earth would you announce to a gorgeous new man that you harbor such traits? A girl should at least pretend to be cool and perhaps let him be introduced to the crazy side of her by a bottle of tequila at a drunken party a few weeks into the courtship, and then blame the alcohol. That is much more socially acceptable, right?
However, in our case, it’s quite possible that my early disclosure of what I see as a pretty major flaw in my psyche, and the willingness he then showed to help me work through it, has not only been one of the things that have kept our relationship going strong, but it has probably brought us closer together.
I do believe that the healthiest reaction to this frustrating emotion—to any difficult emotion—is to communicate the feeling without anger and without accusation.
And as I found, with a simple willingness to listen and understand, it can be so easy to diffuse.
But why does it happen? Where do these horrible feelings come from?
For the greater part, I guess they stem from insecurity—the feeling of not being good enough, the worry of not being enough.
She is prettier than me.
She is taller than me.
She is smarter than me.
She is more successful than me.
And more and more often, as I get older,
She is younger than me.
Because when we go back to basics, it is all about the survival of the fittest.
In Russia, women outnumber men greatly. I wonder if that is why Russian women, in general, always take great care of their appearance. I wonder if they feel they have to be as pretty, as tall, as cool, and as confident as possible.
And may the best woman win.
Men compete to be the strongest, the fastest, the cleverest—to be the last man standing.
And may the best man win.
Jealousy. It’s an ugly word. It has a bad reputation. But in the end, it’s an instinctive feeling. It’s not something we choose to feel any more than anger or pain. It is how we react to it that is the key.
At its most basic level, sexual and romantic jealousy is all about finding and keeping a mate.
We are territorial. We are protective. We are honed into our survival instincts.
I may go against the grain, but I think it’s okay, within reason, to show a little display of jealousy now and then.
And I guess it’s their reaction that will tell us if we are enough.