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What your jealous feelings are telling you

By Nailantei Norari
Sunday, September 27th, 2020
What your jealous feelings are telling you.
In summary
    • When any lack of contact and/or attention triggers a disproportionate reaction in you, which may manifest as unfounded fears, anxiety and worry.
    • When even abstract ideas, such as your partner getting a better job or money fill you with the worry and fear that they will leave you.
    • When you spend a lot of time obsessing about them and nursing your jealous and hurt feelings
    • When there is a clear pattern where you have done irrational things out of jealousy in previous romantic relationships.

Often when a lover feels jealous, it is easy for his/her partner to take it as being protective and sweet. But when the reality of it hits home, it isn’t. It is a symptom of something deeper...

Nailantei Norari @artnorari

“If my man does not act even remotely jealous when I introduce him to my exes or when I say I’m going out for a girls’ night out, then he does not love me.”

This is a statement commonly shared in many girls’ circles and hence a common belief that leads women to feel the need to make their men feel jealous in order to feel valued or loved. 

While that may be the case today, in an African context, jealousy was a foreign concept.

In most communities, women would suggest to their husbands on whom to get as a second wife or third wife.

At times, sisters would become co-wives and co-exist happily and in the same compound too.

In most African communities, a woman was allowed to sleep around and it was common practice to get at least one child sired by another man.

To avoid the husband walking in on his wife while she was copulating with another man, it was accepted practice among the Maasai for the other man to plant a spear next to the hut where he was busy at work.

If a husband came home and found a spear, he would simply go to another hut, possibly his other wife’s.

Guthamara, a similar practice among the Kikuyu where the man would clear his throat loudly or talk loudly as he approached his home, was a sure way of ensuring that there was ample time for any romp to stop and the other man to make his way home.

These practices left all parties happy and satisfied, and hence there was no room for jealousy.

Is jealousy healthy?

“No sort of jealousy, whether small, big or however you want to define it, is healthy,” Maurice Matheka, a relationship expert and psychologist explains.

“Jealousy stems from someone’s personal insecurities. Being jealous of whom I spend time with or what I spend the time doing does not mean you love me or care for me more.

That in my book is childish and is a myth created and popularised by a population who subscribe to the church of jealousy, whose beliefs normalise cheating,” he says.

He goes on to explain how contextually Kenyan the ‘jealousy is love’ myth is. During dowry ceremonies, some women are told to look the other way when their men cheat.

They are, therefore preconditioned to think that their husbands are going to cheat and that all men, including their fathers cheat too.

On the other hand, the men tell each other of the need to have more than one woman and even advise the new groom to leave the wife to wifely duties such as tending the home and to instead get a trophy manyanga to be taking to Naivasha and the Mara.

With these societal norms being passed down from generation to generation and consequently becoming the fabric of the Kenyan culture, it is no wonder that a spouse will go into a jealous fit when the other half comes home late from work even when he was actually working.

“Jealousy is also a reflection of the other person’s beliefs and behaviour. If a man accuses the woman of going out on a sexual rampage every time she says she is going out with the girls, he probably does it every time he goes out with the boys.

The jealousy theatrics, such as questioning and constant check-ins during the girls’ night out, might also serve as a diversionary tactic to ensure she never catches on to his errant ways.

Remember that there are instances where jealousy can be wielded as an abusive control tactic where one partner cannot leave the house without the other, that really is not love, is it?” Maurice posits.

The jealousy cure

Leslie Becker-Phelps in her book Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy, and Worried and What You Can Do About It explores how unhealthy jealousy is and how damaging it can be on a person’s self-esteem as well as with their relationships with themselves and others.

She encourages people to be comfortable enough with themselves such that they can sit back and analyse the root cause of their feelings and deal with the beliefs and anxieties that engender the feelings of jealousy, be it childhood trauma where a parent left or a low sense of self-worth due to a job loss. 

Maurice echoes her sentiments. “If you find yourself feeling jealous, identify the reason you feel jealous.

If it is about the time your woman is spending with her colleagues, what about it makes you jealous? Is it their money?

Soul search, find the root cause of your jealousy and then work on it. In cases where a partner has cheated and come clean, and hence the feelings of jealousy are justified, it is important to address the root problems that the jealousy exposes such as the need to feel loved and protected from future heartbreak,” Maurice says.

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