October 20, 2003


I met my friend Jimís ex-girlfriend this weekend, and it shocked me that she was a bit jealous and envious of me. Am I something to be envied? Is there a reason to be jealous of me? She apparently dressed up and spent a lot of time in her appearance just to meet me.

I was dressed in jeans and a tiny T-shirt I had to buy here (stupidly, I packed only business suits and some sweaters. I forgot-Helen is no longer in Kansas, er, Sweden, anymore). My hair was pulled up. I was extremely casual. It was almost like a competition-she wanted to know my clothes sizes, to know (I guess) if I was thinner or not. She wanted to show ownership over Jim. It was a sizing up, only I didnít want to play.

It never fails to amaze me that women get possessive and upset and think I want their men. Why would you think that? Why do they feel so insecure that I am viewed as a threat? Maybe I am attractive-I certainly seem to be getting hit on a lot here in the US (it feels so lovely! I think I never gt hit on overseas!) But that doesnít mean I want to fuck your guy out from under you.

It seems to be that the common assumption for the destruction of relationships lies at the feet of jealousy. They say that the green-eyes monster is responsible for tearing apart the fragile threads of the heart more efficiently than time, mid-life crises, or the loss of passion. The inability to let go, in your mind, of the idea that your partner has deep attraction, lust, feelings, or emotion for someone else.

Picturing your loverís limbs wrapped around the waist of another as they make love, their bodies fleeting through a tango you are not a part of. The fleeting glimpse of emotion across their face when someone else is mentioned, and this ELSE is someone that is not you. Hearing your loverís voice whisper words, words you imagine them saying to someone else. Knowing how your lover orgasms, you can picture them climaxing to another, their face contorted with panicked feelings of lust. Words that drive daggers deep into the heart of you, driving you towards a path of pain and anguish as you punish yourself, and try to find out what other words they have said, will say, will think.

But the truth is, I think the real danger to relationships is resentment. Resentment, the most bitter of lovers and the most damaging of differentiators. Jealousy is, after all, driven by ourselves. We have insecurities in ourselves (Donít you love me enough? Am I not attractive enough? Is that other person more exciting?) Resentment comes from your partner hurting you, and not being able to let it go. Haunts and habits that echo the corridocrs of your mind, popping up at the worst of times. While mowing the lawn. Doing the dishes. Rinsing the soap from the length of your body. In the long drive into work while the music playing on the radio drags us down.

For me, jealousy has been a problem in the past, particularly with one lover. Then, after him, I swore to myself that jealousy was a complete waste of emotion, an unecessary dip into ugliness, the thrifting away of energy. And, for the most part, I have succeeded in avoiding the green-eyed monster. But resentment...that, sadly, I still carry around with me.

Having myself down-prioritized over another relationship. Having words spoken to me that, once uttered, the speaker desperately tried to retract but they lay there on the table between us, like so much dead, rotting fruit. Knowing that no matter what, I will never be enough for someone, and too much for someone else.

Sometimes, I am struck by a wave of...resentment? Grudges? Anger? Pity? I donít know. And could I cure my resentment by simply forgiving? Well, whoís to say I havenít forgiven them. In fact, I do forgive things, and just move on. But I canít always forget. The little barbs and threads act as anchors, dragging themselves across the surface of my heart when I try to move forward, leaving track marks that do not heal.


PS-I may be able to escape a country, defy VAT, and triumph over margarita hangovers, but I simply cannot outrun insomnia and Kafka dreams, both of which I had last night. It has put me in a decidedly irked mood, which, combined with my PowerPoint animations not working (of course!) and the inability to masturbate while staying with Jim (stupidly, I brought the two noisy vibrators!) Helen is a very grumpy bear indeed.

But I am dressed nicely and have lovely high heels on. Feeling cute is helping. And if the guys at Starbucks are any indicators, I look cute, too.

Mmmm, Starbucks....

Posted by Everydaystranger at October 20, 2003 04:26 PM | TrackBack

I'm a bit jealous of my boyfriend's ex girlfriend too, mostly because she's thinner, BUT look who he is with! :) Besides, I think jealousy and resentment waste a lot of time.

Posted by: Melodrama at October 22, 2003 06:43 AM

In consideration of what Simon says I now beleive it is the Bear. I will be publishing on this fact later tonight when Ive had time to sit down and drink :)

Posted by: Drew at October 21, 2003 02:40 PM

Every time I've been hit by that jealous bug. it was right.

Posted by: pylorns at October 21, 2003 02:03 PM

I think people are missing the point here. It is all about that Bear. They're hitting on the bear, they're jealous of the bear. They're just hitting on you to get to the bear. They are trying to break the special bond you have with the bear.

On a more serious basis jealousy and resentment are two sides of the same coin. It stems from a mix of insecurity, which we all have to some extent, and that we can never fully know everything about someone, even our partner. Relationships are about juggling the balance between individual freedom and commitment to the partnership. That all boils down to trust. Just like the bank account analogy that's something that is earnt, and can go up and down depending on deeds and actions. It is also what makes being in a relationship so interesting.

Posted by: Simon at October 21, 2003 03:22 AM

Good to see your okay and making others green without trying. Starbucks is slowly starting to take hold in my Dunkin Donuts heart.

Also miss ya at my blog. Drop by soon for some coffee :)

Posted by: Drew at October 21, 2003 01:30 AM

Howard wrote:

"It's also the husband's job to avoid situations where the wife might get jealous. It's the HUSBAND's responsibility."

I tend to disagree. Avoid obvious situtaions - strip clubs, shared rooms on business trips, etc.

I was in a relationship with an extremely jealous woman for 4 and a half years. She was even jealous when I went mountain biking with the guys! I swore, never again. If she's jealous, it's HER issue. You can offer to accompany her to therapy if she wants - but it is HER issue. Period. Relationships are doomed to failure when either party refuses to take ownership of their "poo."

Posted by: Clancy at October 20, 2003 10:00 PM

'scuse me, but didn't you just say his EX-girlfriend? ~sheesh~ And of course she's jealous -- you're cuter and nicer and funner (is that a word?) and and and and...

Posted by: jean at October 20, 2003 08:15 PM

I tend to agree. The worst fights I've had with my wife tend to get fueled by past perceived wrongs. I'd like to erase the phrase "just like the time you ... " from our vocabularies.

The best analogy I ever heard for it was the emotional bank account. You have to make deposits by doing nice things, like giving presents for nothing, and doing the dishes without being asked. That kind of thing. Insensitivity is a withdrawal, as are snapping, yelling, forgetting to pick up after yourself, and the like. It's a good husband's job to make sure the emotional bank account doesn't get overdrawn, as it were.

It's also the husband's job to avoid situations where the wife might get jealous. It's the HUSBAND's responsibility. Because even when the man is right, if the wife is unhappy, he's still wrong. Because in a real relationship, what's right or fair takes a backseat to the partner's happiness. What's right matters, but having a happy wife matters more.

I personally believe that most failed relationships stem from that last concept.

Posted by: Howard at October 20, 2003 07:12 PM

I've been jealous only once in my life, but as it turns out, with reason. The woman fucked my gent and fucked me over. 'Course, now I wonder why I cared. If he wanted her that badly, he should have been with her anyway.

But you're right - jealousy is an evil, evil thing.

Miss you! So happy you're writing!

Posted by: Kaetchen at October 20, 2003 05:48 PM

You've been in Sweden too long, Helen. You've forgotten how we are bombarded every fifteen minutes with the dual messages of "appearance is everything" and "the entire world wants your SO and you damned well better be ready to defend your territory". Advertising is especially harsh on women and jelousy and pettiness are encouraged.

Can you think of any movie produced in the USA that had a relationship in it that didn't have somebody trying to take away somebody else's partner? If you can, I bet that move had either somebody playing with multiple partners or it was a thriller with the partner dying.

Posted by: Jim at October 20, 2003 04:51 PM
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