Deconstructing Jealousy

3 min readMar 25, 2021


Defining jealousy

Typically envy and jealousy are used interchangeably, even though envy is characterized by wanting something someone else has, and jealousy is more focused on a fear of losing something or being left out. For this episode, we’re strictly talking about jealousy, because it’s often the thing that people have more of a hard time getting past.

One way of describing jealousy that often comes up in scientific papers is “an agitated and angry form of worry.”

Curvilineal model

The curvilineal model of jealousy looks at it as being most common in situations where there is a higher investment in conjunction with a higher uncertainty:

  • At the beginning of a relationship, usually there is more uncertainty, but there is also less commitment, so jealousy likelihood is lower.
  • In a long-term relationship where all parties are committed, the investment is much higher, but there is less uncertainty, so the likelihood of jealousy is lower as well.
  • As investment is starting to ramp up a little while into a relationship, the uncertainty is there as well, and in turn jealousy is much more likely.

If we apply this model to opening a relationship, the investment is already there but all of a sudden a lot more is uncertain, which promotes the likelihood of jealousy. However, over time, more trust may develop and you may gain more certainty.

Emotion is separate from action

Jealousy is simply a universal human emotion, and de-pathologizing it is important. Several of the most touted ways to deal with jealousy are actually much more likely to increase suffering, leading to deeper and deeper problems.

Pillars of jealousy:

  1. Beliefs: Harmful beliefs about oneself or others, or too much belief in feelings being facts.
  2. Hypervigilance: Similar to jealousy, there’s a belief that letting one’s guard down will make it worse.
  3. Fear of uncertainty: The belief that one must “take action” or “find out what’s really going on” can result in degrading competitors, attacking one’s partner, surveillance, threats, or having one’s own infidelity.

Jealousy’s manifestation


Unhealthy manifestation:

  • Veto power in a relationship.
  • Putting down the other person.

Healthier manifestation:

  • Communicate what reassurance you need.
  • Meet your metamour.


Unhealthy manifestation:

  • Booking more time or taking it away from others.
  • Making rules to enforce a hierarchy.

Healthier manifestation:

  • Planning actual quality time.
  • Remembering that you might feel more competitive about something you don’t even want and giving yourself the opportunity to enjoy the fact you aren’t doing it.
  • Check in about what it’s really about. Maybe you need more relaxation in your own life, not to take it from someone else.


Unhealthy manifestation:

  • Demanding promises of always being number one.
  • Forcing your partner to close the relationship.
  • Wanting a partner to quit their job or stop seeing a friend.

Healthier manifestation:

  • Acknowledging fear instead of denying it.
  • Willingness to admit fears to your partner.
  • Using your fear to cure yourself.
  • Realizing which of these come from baggage in past relationships.
  • Compassion and empathy for metamours.

Loss of control

Unhealthy manifestation:

  • Implementing rules to limit your partner.
  • Limiting information or keeping secrets from your partner.

Healthier manifestation:

  • Going out of your way to give good things and comfort to someone else.
  • Tapping into your other resources.
  • Getting comfortable and saying what the fear is out loud repeatedly to allow its hold on you to dissipate.

Feeling jealous doesn’t mean you’re failing. It’s normal to feel, and it gives you a chance to figure out what you need in your life.




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