By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
There’s more than one type of jealousy.
When you hear the word jealousy, most people think about jealousy in a romantic relationship. That’s not the only type of jealousy that affects humans. Jealousy is a complex reaction to relationship threats. Being in relationships with other humans has lots of advantages. Groups of humans protect each other.
Relationships are inherently rewarding, producing feelings of affection, intimacy, and belonging. Anything that might undermine your relationships is likely to produce strong feelings, thoughts about the meaning of this relationship threat, and behaviors to respond to those threats. Jealousy can begin very early in life, and how it’s experienced change across the lifespan
Sibling jealousy, sometimes called sibling rivalries, is extremely common. It is generally in the mild to moderate severity range and rarely becomes a more severe morbid or pathological jealousy. Sibling jealousy in children is frequent, pervasive, and easily activated. The immediate cause is usually a lack of attention towards the jealous child or their perception that there is favoritism towards the other child.
For some children, this is easily resolved. Unresolved sibling jealousy can lead to serious problems later in life. Some adults continue to argue with their siblings, and the expression “mom always liked you best” is the classic example of this.
Our early family experiences set the pattern for our reaction to jealousy caused by relationship threats. Children compete for mom, dad, or another caregiver’s attention. The recent increase in blended families with their step-parent, step-children relationships, reveals how important relationship security is to humans and how jealousy grows in response to relationship threats.
In early childhood, everyone had, or wished for, a best friend. When those relationships were dyads, just the two of you, they tended to be stable and long-term. Add a third person, and the best friend relationship becomes unstable. Children often compete for friendships and demand exclusive attention. “It’s either them or me” is the slogan for early friendships.
Jealousy in romantic relationships is easily activated. A person with good self-esteem is likely to respond to threats in their relationship with partner retention efforts. If you think your partner may be looking at other people, you spend more time with them and make more efforts to impress them. You may try to scare off that other person or tell your partner they can’t have it both ways.
Morbid or pathological jealousy.
This is the most serious manifestation of jealousy. It may lead to stalking or acts of violence. This serious condition is most often associated with romantic relationships but can occur in any of the varieties of jealousy. People who develop pathological jealousy are likely to suffer from low self-esteem. When someone believes, they would have trouble attracting another partner, but their mate has many options, they are more likely to respond with angry, controlling, or violent behavior.
Professional jealousies can lead to all sorts of workplace conflicts. Professionals competing for the attention or rewards from third parties can undermine the effectiveness of the school, business, or other entity.
Delusional jealousy involving neurocognitive problems.
This condition is associated with Parkinson’s, dementia, treatment with a dopamine agonist, alcohol addiction, and stimulant abuse disorders. It often coexists with hallucinations and increases the risk of violence towards caregivers.
People with neurocognitive disorders can become extremely fearful of losing a relation. They may begin to accuse their partner of having affairs, and they will come to believe these affairs are taking place even when the partner is almost never outside their sight.
Stay tuned in for more posts about jealousy; it’s causes and its treatment, which is coming up soon. More information about Jealousy and its treatment is or will be at Jealousy.
David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.) Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!
My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.
Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.
Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.
As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.
Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?
Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.
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