If You're Not Jealous, Is It Because You're Not Really In Love?

Couples caught up in the passionate throes of jealousy make me wonder if their love is more real than any I’ve ever had, or ever will.

Dec 18, 2012 at 11:05am | Leave a comment

I‘m not a ‘jealous person,’ as one of my many highly accurate relationship theories compounds. I believe jealousy is a seed you must actively ensure is not watered, lest it grow into a tree that will cast a shadow over your coupling, withering everything that was once good in its shade of bad feeling. (I know, I’m a pioneer.)

I suppose it’s no unrelated point that in relationship behaviour politics, I’m left-of-centre. I believe extra-curricular flirting within reason is healthy (I’d go so far as to say it nourishes the soul) and I love seeing a boyfriend make another woman laugh at a party. So my apathy is fairly natural but also, as my jealousy-as-a-seed metaphor demonstrates, something I purposefully discourage.  


I take The City of Love very seriously.

In my last relationship (five and a half years), jealousy didn’t play a part - from the outset I made it clear I wouldn’t entertain it. Four months in I had fallen in love (it felt like heartburn in the best possible way) when he made a semi-provocative comment about a male friend of mine. I reacted swiftly and strongly to what I perceived to be the potential start and growth of an unhealthy standard.

He wasn’t particularly jealous anyway (compared with other men I know), but I didn’t give him a chance to work on it. To me, because we were in love and committed, it was a wasted emotion. I also knew I don’t ‘get jealous,’ so wanted to avoid ever having to deal with it coming one-sided at me. Hence my lecture that jealousy is just insecurity on the doubter’s part and should be dealt with accordingly, rather than projected onto the other party.

I’m aware I speak with the assurance of someone who has never experienced a heart broken by cheating (this is something I feel both grateful for and at the mercy of, but that’s another piece).

However my calculated approach to the jealousy issue is not without doubt, because there’s a substantial part of me that feels I’m missing out. As if the absence of this particular emotion is telling. It’s not that what I felt before was lacking in some way, more that something different (the best?) is yet to come.


Paris again, winding stairs helpfully serving as pictorial representation of my meandering ponderings on love.

I feel ignorant of the adrenaline that jealousy induces, and I want to know how it feels. It’s certainly a condition of my TV and film intake that I associate romantic jealousy with the brilliant side of love. Famous fiery affairs both fictional and real are tantalizingly raw.

Will I ever love as madly as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, as furiously Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton? Feel anything remotely like any character Penelope Cruz has ever played?

I don’t MEAN to confuse jealousy with passion and mind-blowing sex (I’ve experienced both without jealousy, and logically it doesn’t even make sense - I’m sure there are bad lovers up and down the country banging away angrily) but not knowing, and not having had any experience of a jealousy-ridden relationship makes me wonder if it IS all it’s cracked up to be. Does it come hand in hand with Great Love?

Have I never experienced a pure, bare, exposed romantic emotion because I’ve never experienced this? Does jealousy happen only in relationships you’re petrified of losing? Or is it just insecurity, full stop?

Shakespeare, an authority on the logic and clarity of love, asked: ‘How many fond fools serve mad jealousy?’ Maybe I’m a fool to ponder the subject at all. After all, my experience of love so far has been mostly healthy and happy. When I fell in love, it felt like my heart was on fire before the wonderful slow burn began.

If jealousy had played a part in this - if fight >cry > make-up > repeat had become a main feature, could I still say that were true? Or would I be hurt, jaded and ultimately changed (for better or worse)?

It’s clear I associate jealousy with can’t-live-without-you love. And I suppose I’m disappointed I’ve never felt at the mercy of my feelings like that. I wonder if I ever will. My fear is that I am at best sensible and at worst, cold-hearted - the same accusation thrown at one of my fictional heroes  Sally here, at 2.12:

I really don’t believe, like some, that jealousy is ‘proof’ someone really cares. But contrary to this logic, I still suspect there’s a madly jealous, passionate Great Lover in me waiting to be unleashed by someone who triggers that behaviour. And that it will be the rawest, realist relationship I’ve ever had.

As I write this I suspect change is what I must want, and I’m craving that in the form of drama.

Repeat to self: jealousy isn’t fabulous. Or is it? 

Sally is tweeting about love, life and the number 38 bus @sallygriffith