Why do we get jealous? I’m talking about couples. It seems like a straightforward question with a straightforward answer, but some of the things we do out of jealously are questionably….psychotic. We do things that are unlike our personality, we come out of character, take risks, become angry, and even cause relationships to end. Luckily, I am not the first one to be asking this question.
In today’s society the ability to be suspicious of your loved one is made even easier by the rapid advances technology has been making. You have to worry about Facebook, Snapchat, phone calls, and text messages that can easily be deleted with one swipe of the finger. The process of being jealous already sounds exhausting and emotionally draining, so why do we do it? The answer lies in the function of being jealous, which takes us very far back.
When men and women’s main concern was survival and reproduction, women had the advantage of knowing that their child was theirs. Men, however, did not. So constantly guarding their mate and the characteristics that define jealously were required if a male wanted to maintain certainty of his offspring. This is otherwise known as cuckolding.
When talking in class about correlation and causation, there could be many reasons why we get jealous. It is unrealistic to say that there is ONE reason for why we get jealous. There are many outside (confounding) variables that could affect how someone is acting!
What’s fascinating is that a study done at the University of Michigan found that men get more jealous of the idea of sexual infidelity (i.e. picturing a woman trying different sex positions with another guy), while women get more upset thinking of their partner falling in love with someone else (emotional infidelity). But women have to be choosy too- they need resources and someone they can rely on to help them raise their offspring. Men can impregnate as many women as they want and produce millions of sperm a day while women can only produce about one egg a month, making them the more valuable resource.
In a Women’s Health article, scientists declared they think the left frontal cortex of the brain that controls emotions such as shame has to do with the feelings of jealously. The article touches on Reactive Jealousy, Suspicious Jealousy, and Delusional Jealously, claiming that the dopamine system which adjusts chemicals that affect happiness are also involved in spurring jealously. Jealously can trigger a stress response in humans as well. All of these findings point toward the idea that jealously serves as a function to help us survive…so the next time you’re feeling jealous and ashamed, don’t! You’re claiming what’s yours!