Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

Is jealousy a "broken refrigerator?"?

Asked by nikipedia (27333 points ) April 26th, 2012

I recently read an essay about jealousy. Feel free to read the whole thing (it’s very good!) but for those who don’t want to, here’s a quick summary: The essay argues that jealousy in a relationship is a symptom of some other underlying problem—that if if feelings of insecurity and inadequacy can be eradicated, and replaced with security and confidence, jealousy will disappear too.

The refrigerator analogy supposes that jealousy is like a broken refrigerator, and to deal with it, you either have to make rules like “never buy perishable foods,” or you can just fix the refrigerator. The parallel to a relationship is that some people make rules like “don’t ever have friends of the opposite sex” (or whatever your boundary might be) instead of just fixing the underlying problem.

Do you agree with this? Or do you think jealousy is an inevitable reaction to certain situations, regardless of how secure and confident you are?

Do you think jealousy is rational or irrational? Does the distinction matter to you?

Have you had any notable experiences with jealousy? Did they teach you anything? How did you learn to manage it? Or did you?

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11 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Those rules sound like they were either written by someone who wants to screw around or a shyster refrigerator salesman. Don’t believe it.

Some people can feel comfortable in an open relationship but, most cannot.
(Look at the large number of relationship questions here.)
It is natural to feel possessive of something you care about.

nikipedia's avatar

@LuckyGuy, that doesn’t really answer my question.

josie's avatar

Jealousy is a harmful emotion. I cannot think of any reasonable circumstances where people would willfully harm themselves by indulging in it.

Shippy's avatar

I’d hate to call them rules as such, but respectful boundaries. Or what is acceptable to each person and what is not. But yes, I reckon they do help because over time we build trust, it is not a quick process. I think despite all the rules or boundaries life does throw a lot of available partners our way, both male and female. So new situations arise. These days too, I think, my opinion, is that people in general have less respect for couples and also little respect for themselves and think nothing of homing in on a “taken” person.

Yes a generalization, but I am just making a point. So with that thought in mind the boundaries blur, and become huge, and the rule list very long. So again it boils down to trust , knowing how that partner would react in a multitude of situations that comes from knowing the person and understanding oneself. I do find though jealousy is fear based and once the fears are addressed and understood it could could lesson that anxiety.

Coloma's avatar

I agree, it is a useless emotion in modern times, but, it has an evolutionary base not just psychological. Fighting off rivals meant keeping ones resources, human protectors safe. Even animals feel jealousy, it is here to stay but must be tempered and paid attention too.
A little fleeting feeling of jealousy that is processed by a healthy and emotionally mature person is not even close to paranoid pathological jealousy.

Personally, for a woman, I have experienced very little jealously, in my romantic relationships and zero towards my female friends but I have known females that are just insane with it due to their own deep seated insecurities. Infact, I let go of a friendship a year and a half ago because the woman was so jealous and insecure I couldn’t stand it any longer.

tinyfaery's avatar

I think a true love is one that doesn’t have to make rules. I love her. She loves me. We treat each other as individuals; we like to be together.

Refrigerator? That’s…bizarre.

Aethelflaed's avatar

No. This just seems like the poly community yet again promoting how poly is how truly evolved individuals have relationships.

Yes, there are usually some underlying issues. But no one’s perfect, and everyone’s going to have some issues of one kind or another. Some of us are less perfect than others, but this constant pressure the poly community puts on people to be the most evolved in order to qualify for having relationships and commitment and intimacy is itself not healthy.

Ideally, no one would get jealous. And ideally, everyone would earn enough to live off of and have more than enough time for their relationships and families. We all have to deal with what we’re given, and what we can realistically expect to change.

augustlan's avatar

I do think jealousy is irrational, nearly always. That’s not to say I don’t feel it, I definitely do from time to time! Whether or not it can be eradicated by fixing the underlying problem(s)... that I’m not confident of. For me, personally, about the best I can do is to understand that if I feel jealousy, it is my problem, and be aware that it’s irrational, so as not to inflict my partner with untenable rules in response to it.

john65pennington's avatar

My wife found a picture of an old girlfriend.

She went bananas.

That’s jealousy.

The refrigerator had noting to do with it….....well the picture was on top of the fridge.

Blackberry's avatar

I’ve never been jealous, I’ve watched a girlfriend have sex with another man and I’ve had threesomes (TMI, I guess?).

From the outside looking in, some jealous people seem to have definitive self esteem problems. And of course they won’t fix them because they feel their way of monogamy is right, so their mate will have to accommodate to them.

And there’s nothing with that, because we all have our standards, but some people need to loosen up and everyone notices who is like this. It’s so common for people to treat others like property. We’ve accepted that we’ll eventually be controlled by another person because we want to be with them. We’ll put up with things we don’t want to just to be with someone. I don’t blame people for this. because some seem worth it at the time.

ucme's avatar

No, it’s more of a spot of rising damp in the attic.

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