In my last post I observed that jealousy is an automatic, reflexive response to the notion that one’s partner is being unfaithful. Jealousy is, innate, primal and largely outside of conscious control.
People do not decide to be jealous, anymore than they decide to be nauseated. For this reason, discussions about whether someone “should” feel jealous, or “has the right to be jealous,” are misguided.
Over the next few posts I’m going to finish up the topic of Love and Trust.
The previous posts have been:
Now, here’s my next suggestion for Susan B. and especially for her boyfriend:
#5. Have respect for the force of jealousy.
Susan B’s boyfriend wants to have private friendships with other women. He sees nothing wrong with this. But, it makes Susan B acutely uncomfortable.
On an intellectual level, we might agree with the boyfriend. Why not have these other friendships? For that matter, why not have an open relationship, where both Susan B and her boyfriend are free to date and have sex with other people?
(This post continues our exploration of lying and trust in love relationships; you’ll want to read my previous post before you read this one.)
#3 Use Four Steps for Working on Your Relationship
Susan B and others may be frustrated by now, because I haven’t said anything yet about making her boyfriend stop his behavior.
I’ve been giving monthly workshops called Understanding the People You Love at one of my home-town libraries, but the weather has been so awful I’ve decided to try an on-line workshop instead.
Please do join in by posting your questions or comments, or by e-mailing me.
Susan B wrote in with these classic love questions; so essential and universal:
I’m glad I’m not Dear Abby, because there’s so much more than just one column’s worth of reply due here.
When I received Susan B’s query, I walked around all day thinking about it. Here’s the list of replies I came up with (a BIG list!)
I live in a cozy little cottage in the woods, and I absolutely love it here. Being snowed into this place is mostly a pleasure and a joy (I enjoy snow days every bit as much as do my students)…except for that little edge of cabin fever that’s starting to creep into my sensibilities. It’s been quite the winter here in New England and Winter Storm #8 has kept us all home, yet again, for the past two days.
I’m sitting here wondering, How did Thoreau do it, without going nuts?
Although Thoreau did indeed retreat to his tiny Walden Pond cabin (his famous purpose being “to live deliberately”), he emerged regularly to socialize and go into town. Thoreau wasn’t the hermit his legend implies; he balanced his solitary writing and studying with a career in teaching and community involvement.
So Jake’s observation stuck in my mind for almost two decades, tumbling around in my psyche along with so many and various other unanswered questions and vague longings and frustrations and angers and despairs.
Jake’s observation was that when people say I love you, what they most often mean is:
I love the way you make me feel about myself.
How does that strike you? Dreadful? Cynical? Immature? Selfish?
During that period I divorced and I took on full-time work, which for a tutor means after school, evenings and weekends.
My Sundays were packed. I scheduled students every hour beginning at 10AM and finishing up at 8PM, and I had an extremely efficient system: I’d set up shop at a table in the cafe of the local Barnes and Noble, and as one student finished tutoring the next would sit down.
The B&N management liked this arrangement because parents would then hang out and shop and buy Starbucks goodies while they waited for their kids. And they also tolerated Jake, who seemed to live at the bookstore, eternally camped in the corner, working on one of the charcoal portraits he did to produce his extremely minimal living.