Jealousy is a strong negative emotion that often arises from unhealthy attachments. As such, it’s not associated with anything positive because it often results in negativity.
But is jealousy a sign of insecurity?
This article answers this question in detail, covering when jealousy is a sign of insecurity and when it’s not.
In addition, it answers if jealousy is healthy in relationships, whether it can be an expression of love, and other frequently asked questions about jealousy.
Keep reading to learn all this in detail.
Is Jealousy a Sign of Insecurity?
Jealousy is often a manifestation of insecurity.
Humans feel jealous when they perceive a threat to a cherished relationship. The threat could be real or imagined, and being jealous is just a reaction.
The relationship could be platonic or romantic, but jealousy often manifests in romantic relationships.
In a scenario where Peter is in a romantic relationship with Mary, Jane suddenly comes into the picture.
Mary regards Jane as a threat to her valued relationship with Peter, so she becomes jealous of her. Jane might not be a real threat, but since Mary perceives her as one, she can’t help but feel threatened.
She is afraid Jane might steal Peter from her, hence the reaction. As such, we can associate her jealousy with fear of loss. She fears losing Peter to Jane and can’t imagine a future without him.
But if you think about it, her fear reflects insecurity. She fears losing Peter because she isn’t confident in herself. Because if she was confident she was good enough for Peter, she wouldn’t feel threatened by Jane’s presence.
Lack of confidence in oneself is an aspect of insecurity. Often, it results from an “unconscious competition” where the subject (in our case, Mary) starts comparing herself with the person she perceives as a threat (in our case, Jane).
The whole mental process creates fear and the imagination that Jane is better than her and that Peter might prefer Jane.
So unknowingly, Mary devalues herself more, which raises her self-doubt and adds to her insecurities (though she was already struggling with it; otherwise, she wouldn’t compare herself to Jane).
Jealousy isn’t always a sign of insecurity
Though jealousy is often a sign of insecurity, sometimes it’s not. It can also be a reaction to something done to a person.
Negative criticism, for example, is likely to induce feelings of inadequacy, making the criticized person envious of the other.
So if a teacher criticizes one student in the presence of another, it’s natural for the criticized student to feel inadequate and jealous of the other because they didn’t go through what they did.
In such a case, this student was never insecure, especially since it’s not like the teacher praised one student while criticizing another.
They simply feel bad because their feelings might be hurt, and they are envious of the other student, who did not experience any pain. Often, such jealous feelings don’t last long and end when the pain subsides.
Is Jealousy an Expression of Love?
Back to our scenario, can’t Mary’s jealousy be perceived as an expression of love for Peter? I mean, if someone can get so jealous when another person comes into your life, they must love you so much that they don’t want to share you. Right?
But then again, if it takes jealousy to express love, it signals an unhealthy relationship where partners take each other for granted until they are threatened by a third party and realize their love for each other.
That is to say, jealousy can never be an expression of love in a healthy relationship. It reflects that you see your partner as an object to be possessed.
It’s not associated with love but with negative feelings of insecurity and desire. And if you think someone loves you because they are jealous when a third person shows up in your life, it proves you need love at the expense of your freedom, which is not a positive thing.
Jealousy and possessiveness are not traits of healthy relationships. A person who truly loves you will give you the freedom to experience other kinds of love without feeling insecure.
They will also trust you to do right instead of denying your freedom and acting possessive. You are not an item that needs to be possessed, and if you think jealousy is a sign of love, you need help realizing your worth.
Though I should say that feeling jealous is not necessarily a problem, how someone reacts when they are jealous is the main problem.
I say this because sometimes we can’t help but feel jealous. For example, if I had planned a dinner with my boyfriend and he ended up spending time with a friend whom they met by chance at a restaurant, I couldn’t help but feel envious that they got his attention instead of mine.
However, this feeling will go away after some time (probably a few hours), which means I won’t think about it or do anything about it.
So the intensity of this feeling matters too; in some cases, it goes unnoticed.
Is jealousy Healthy in a relationship?
Mild and occasional feelings of jealousy can be healthy in a relationship. It can be a positive force, reminding partners to value each other because they may lose them to another person.
When manageable, jealousy can be an awakening call. This is especially true if it comes from a healthy relationship that reflects protection.
This means it can only be healthy if it comes from a place of protection in a healthy relationship. Even so, only mild and manageable jealousy is considered beneficial because, as humans, we can’t ignore this feeling when a third party threatens valued relationships.
But if the intensity is above moderate and the reaction to the negative emotion suggests possessiveness over the other person, this feeling becomes unhealthy and negatively affects the relationship.
What is the main cause of jealousy?
There isn’t a specific cause for jealousy, but fear of loss and insecurity are among the primary triggers.
Is jealousy normal?
Yes, mild and occasional feelings of jealousy are normal. It’s a negative emotion we can’t escape, especially when we feel the threat of losing valuable people.
However, the reaction to your negative feelings determines how normal they are. You are allowed to feel jealousy occasionally, especially when it comes from a place of protection, but if it’s associated with possessiveness, it ceases to be normal.
Is jealousy a sign of low self-esteem?
Yes, sometimes jealousy is a sign of low self-esteem. For example, a person with low self-esteem lacks self-confidence and may constantly question their worth.
As such, they may convince themselves that the other person is with them because they pity them. So anytime a new person comes into the picture, they will likely feel threatened and fear losing a loved one to third parties.
Jealousy is often a sign of insecurity, but in several occasional cases, it’s not. Most people who experience intense feelings of jealousy deal with self-doubt and a lack of self-confidence.
When it’s mild and doesn’t result in adverse effects, jealousy is considered normal and even healthy in relationships.
Only when it leads to positive results instead of portraying possessiveness can we say that jealousy is not a sign of insecurity.