Jealousy and Envy: Positive Effects and a Meta-Analysis

The positive and negative aspects of jealousy can be interpreted differently, as this Arab adage shows. A person’s investment in a relationship is at risk of being squandered if they do not feel jealously towards another person in the relationship. In this case, the manifestation of jealousy might have a positive connotation because it assists to safeguard the partnership. Although jealousy can have good connotations in some situations, severe jealousy can indicate to partners that there is a lack of trust in their relationship (Barelds & Dijkstra, 2006).

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Rusbult et al. (1998) observed that trust is the foundation of long-lasting relationships; however when jealousy manifests itself in a pattern over time, it undermines the foundation of trust that is necessary for a successful and satisfying relationship to flourish. The scholarly community is divided on whether it is better to foster or discourage jealous behaviour for the relationship. According to Barelds and Barelds-Dijkstra (2007), persons who felt more nervously jealous reported lower overall relationship quality than others.

When one partner is envious of the other, the non-jealous partner feels mistrusted and controlled (Barelds & Barelds-Dijkstra). Jaundice can also breed violent relationships in which one partner attempts to stop any extra-relationship activity by employing verbal or physical hostility towards the other partner (Hilberman & Munson, 1978). In one study, Daly and Wilson (1988) discovered that sexual jealousy is the most common reason for spousal violence and killing. As an alternative, jealousy may indicate that a couple is really in love with one other and that the relationship is important enough to protect.

Sheets, Fredendall, and Claypool (1997) showed that jealousy can be a beneficial emotion when it serves as a “barometer” of our confidence in our partners’ commitment to us in a romantic relationship.

Jealousy can be classified into several forms based on the factors that contribute to it. When a partner engages in intimate and sexual behaviours with another person, reactive jealousy is defined by Buunk (1997) as a response to that partner’s involvement. Possessive jealousy, according to Buunk, is defined as activities that an individual participates in to prevent their partner from having intimate contact with a third person.

On the other hand, nervous jealousy manifests itself in the form of obsessive thoughts and suspicions about potential behaviours that are detrimental to the relationship (Buunk, 1997). Buunk’s jealousy hypothesis distinguishes between three types of jealousy: reactive, possessive, and worried. In their multidimensional jealousy hypothesis, Pfeiffer and Wong (1989) distinguish between cognitive and emotional jealousy as two distinct ways of experiencing jealousy in one’s life. In the context of jealousy expression, cognitive jealousy refers to the cognitions, ideas, and fears that a person experiences.

In the context of a valued relationship, emotional jealousy refers to the sense of a perceived threat to the partnership. Types of jealousy are projected to have both bad and positive effects on the quality of a relationship. In the current review, I examined the negative and positive consequences that jealousy has on the quality of a relationship from both a negative and positive perspective.

Why being envious isn’t necessarily a bad thing

“While jealousy is typically associated with bad emotions, it may also be extremely beneficial, enlightening, and educational. According to Dr Katy Kamkar, a psychotherapist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, “It all depends on what you do with them and how you move ahead.”

Another factor that influences your decision is how these feelings affect you.

“If envy elicits bad emotions in you, you should investigate them, come to terms with them, and then let them go.” The presence of good emotions indicates that we have a favourable opinion of ourselves, that we are determined, and that we appreciate our positive features,” Kamkar explains.

According to the findings of a study conducted at the Tilberg Institute in the Netherlands, people who are looking to make changes in their lives may find that feeling jealous of others can be useful. Researchers ran four different tests and discovered that participants’ feelings of jealousy pushed them to study more and inspired them to do better when they believed self-improvement was a realistic goal. This is referred to as benign jealousy by specialists, as opposed to malevolent jealousy, which can result in feelings of bitterness.

Doctor Michelle Foster, a clinical psychologist and co-director of the Toronto Psychology & Wellness Group, explains that feeling jealous can help you achieve your objectives. “If you’re feeling envious of a coworker, for example, it can help you realise that they have something you want and that it is something you can work towards.” “Talk to your colleague about it, and ask them how they did it. This could serve as an inspiration for you to achieve the same results.”

The awareness that you gain from these feelings can also help you identify issues in your life that you may want to address, such as a stagnating career or a lackluster love life. When applied to a romantic relationship, it can assist you in identifying the behaviours (on the part of both you and your spouse) that cause you to experience feelings of envy.

What to do when you’re experiencing these emotions

A good communication strategy, as well as a sympathetic attitude, are essential in getting through your feelings of envy.

The first step is to become aware of why you’re feeling this way: what is it that’s causing your feelings of jealousy and when did they begin? This is the only way to deal with it head-on,” Foster explains. “Because if you sit on your jealousy and do nothing about it, it will develop and fester, and it will become worse,” says the author. It is possible to have multiple layers of jealousy, and this layering can accumulate over time.”

Her advice is to anticipate their reaction and enter the dialogue with empathy and understanding when approaching a love partner with thoughts of jealousy.

To lessen defensiveness and avoid sounding accusatory, you want to validate their sentiments to decrease defensiveness. This will enable you to have a productive and effective dialogue that will assist you in identifying what is at the bottom of your feelings of jealousy and how to get through them.

The need of checking the facts cannot be overstated since, when we are jealous, we tend to ruminate on our sentiments and exaggerate the severity of our feelings. What is your interpretation of the facts versus what are the facts, you should consider? This will assist you in reducing feelings of jealousy and guiding you through a more productive conversation.