Rosie Green: ‘Is jealousy a good thing? Discuss’

‘So who, exactly, is Sensai?’ This was the text my friend Carrie received from her husband during our girls’ night out, followed by a picture of a big bunch of red roses sitting atop their kitchen island. Carrie smiled, then returned her attention to our table. Leaving him to stew on whether Sensai was a hot yoga teacher, or perhaps the guy who made her almond milk latte every morning. The one who always gave her extra froth.

After a few hours, she let him know that Sensai is, in fact, a beauty brand that had sent her a bouquet because she is an influential make-up artist. He feigned nonchalance, but Carrie knew her husband had felt a twinge of jealousy and she liked it. She was pleased he’d been tapped on the shoulder by the old green-eyed monster because it proved he cared.

David Venni

Jealousy has existed as long as love has. I can’t imagine that anyone with a pulse can 100 per cent rise above it. I’m certainly not immune to flashes of it. Luckily there have been limited jealousy trigger points in my new relationship thanks to most of it occurring during the pandemic. Covid has kiboshed the office parties, stag dos and even his visits to the gym with the very ‘helpful’ and preternaturally nubile trainers.

I will confess to having a twitch last week when he sent me a card from Moonpig that came addressed to Amelia (alarm bells). But the emotion subsided when I told him and seconds later he sent through a screen shot of the ordering page which showed Amelia as their stock name (he was then supposed to personalise it). So I concluded that she probably wasn’t another girlfriend. When I examined my feelings, I realised that jealousy comes because you perceive a threat to your relationship. And for those of us prone to catastrophising (hands up) you then immediately start to anticipate its dramatic demise. This can make you worried, self-doubting, insecure and withdrawn. Or, put another way, make your head spin out of control as per The Exorcist.

Research says that this response can be dialled up if you’ve had a parent leave in childhood or an unfaithful partner. Despite experience of both those things, I think I have a good grip on jealousy. There are pangs when my boyfriend salivates over Scarlett Johansson, but most of the time I’m confident in what I bring to the table (mainly Kettle Chips and wine).

My ex-husband was not very jealous. I always thought it might be nice if he was a bit more so. That would show his strength of feeling. Had he been tormented by jealousy I’d have been able to bask in my desirability as he fought off any potential suitors.

But I quickly realised, when I had a boyfriend who was seriously jealous in nature, that it was actually a gigantic pain in the derrière. He’d square up to men he thought were giving me the eye, question the motives of male work colleagues and see danger everywhere. It was through this experience I learned that jealousy is not about the strength of a partner’s love for you, but more about their own sense of insecurity.

But can jealousy ever be good? I think it can, in moderation. It can fan the flames of desire and make you appreciate what you have. See that woman fluttering her lashes at your partner? It can remind you of your loved one’s value to you. Which, in turn, means you up your game and invest more in your relationship. Ditto when they realise that someone finds you attractive– it reminds a partner of your worth to them.

A friend of mine took to ordering herself flowers ‘from an admirer’ every time she thought her boyfriend was taking her for granted. Did it work? Every. Single. Time.


Read more of Rosie Green’s columns here