My husband and I have been married for over a year and together for over five years. In that time, we’ve struggled with many things in our relationship, but one thing we’ve never really struggled with is jealousy.
Weird, huh? Especially because I am a shameless flirt and a very physically affectionate person. I make sexual innuendos with my friends all the time and am a huge fan of a good cuddle with just about anyone. I go out to the club, without my husband, and dance with everyone. And he doesn’t care at all. My husband doesn’t have a jealous bone in his body.
[bctt tweet=”We’ve struggled with many things, but one thing we haven’t really struggled with is jealousy.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I’d evoked jealousy, intentionally and unintentionally, in every one of my previous relationships. And to be fair, in some cases, the jealousy was warranted. I was used to partners demanding to know where I was and who I was with out of fear that I was betraying the relationship. Of course, I always rebelled against this by intentionally trying to make my partners jealous, as some sort of retribution.
Obviously, I’m not describing very healthy relationships or actions on my part.
When I started dating my current husband, I was very clear that I was not looking for a serious relationship. I expected this to evoke the same jealousy it usually did, but it didn’t. He gave me my space and didn’t ask if I was seeing anyone else. He enjoyed the times when he was with me and when he wasn’t he left me alone.
[bctt tweet=”He gave me my space and didn’t ask if I was seeing anyone else.” username=”wearethetempest”]
When we became exclusive about a month later he simply said that he trusted me to be faithful, so he didn’t really care if I continued to flirt with my friends, go out dancing by myself, or participate in cuddle sessions at friend’s houses or parties.
I was shocked. Up until that point, I don’t think anyone had trusted me that much or even believed that I was worthy of trust.
Of course, I tried to push the boundaries to see if I could make him jealous. I was best friends with one of my ex’s and hung out with him all the time. He didn’t care. I would come home at 3 am and tell him about all the guys who hit on me at the club. He didn’t care. He’d always say, “Well, you’re at home in bed with me, not them.” Then he’d turn out the lights and go to sleep.
Eventually, after months of being petty, I realized that he trusted me, for real, and that I was worthy of his trust. I didn’t want to be with anyone else, and I was starting to think that maybe I never wanted to be with anyone else. And I knew that he was just as trustworthy.
We are raised to believe that jealousy is an inherent part of a relationship. This stems from our patriarchal society, which treats sexual relationships as ownership agreements. When two people agree to be in an exclusive relationship, they “belong” to each other, which allows them to begin policing each other’s behavior. Of course, this usually turns out worse for women because of the long history of women as property. In essence, jealousy is a control mechanism used to police the behavior of people in relationships.
[bctt tweet=”Jealousy is not sexy. It’s not an indicator of how much your partner cares. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
The media often shows men flying into fits of jealous rage when they find their girlfriend has been texting her ex or when another guy hits on her in public. The rage is supposed to be the man displaying his dominance (read, ownership) to another male, and has little to do with the woman herself. These depictions are so ingrained in our minds that it doesn’t seem that out of place when a man reacts aggressively in response to jealousy. In fact, women are taught to believe this is sexy or that jealousy means their partner loves them more, which is why I spent so long trying to make my husband jealous early on in our relationship. I thought if he wasn’t jealous, it meant he didn’t care enough.
Jealousy is not sexy. It’s not an indicator of how much your partner cares. Jealousy is just an indicator of lack of trust in a relationship. If both partners trust that the other partner isn’t going to betray the relationship, then there’s no need for jealousy. My husband and I trust each other implicitly, so we aren’t really jealous. For me, it took a lot of work to get to that place. I had to believe that he was trustworthy and that I was trustworthy. I had to do a lot of work to abandon my own jealousy and abandon my need for him to show jealousy in the way I expected. He just started out that way and stayed that way.
[bctt tweet=”I hate to be controlled.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I’m grateful and always will be grateful that he wasn’t jealous from the very beginning. If he had asked me to change my behavior to cater to his jealousy, I know I would have rebelled and harmed the relationship in some way. I hate to be controlled. He was secure with himself and our relationship, and that allowed both of us to move past a truly harmful paradigm.