increase as our desire--our desperation--for the "prize" increases.
Jealousy is the most intense. It involves having something highly
valued and losing it to the competition--that hurts, angers, and
Nancy Friday (1985) has written an enormous volume on Jealousy.
Schoenfeld (1980) discussed jealousy in a practical way. But, Barker
(1987) has been considered most personally helpful by my students.
The greater the threat, the more intense the jealousy. Accordingly,
a large Psychology Today survey (Salovey & Rodin, 1985) showed that
separated and divorced persons suffered the most jealousy, followed
by cohabiting single people, and married people the least. How we
perceive the threat influences the jealousy; thus, men and women
have somewhat different experiences. A jilted man gets mad at the
other male; a jilted woman dwells on the loss of her partner's
commitment and love.
There are five stages of jealousy (White, 1981; Brehm, 1985):
1. Suspecting the threat: If you are insecure about a love
relationship (not necessarily about yourself in general) and very
dependent on your lover, you are likely to be jealous. You may see
"signs" of disaster when none are there. Conversely, some people
overlook very suggestive signals. In reality, 45% of the people in the
Psychology Today survey had cheated on a partner while pretending to
be faithful. Men are more likely to deny feeling jealous; women more
readily admit it. If the threat to our relationship--the competitor--is
attractive, intelligent, successful, etc., we will be more threatened and
more disturbed. If we have or want an exclusive sexual relationship
with our lover, we will be more threatened by a competitor than if we
were in a non-sexual relationship. If we ourselves have been unfaithful
to our partners, others might expect us to be less jealous if our
partner also has an affair, but research shows that some unfaithful
spouses are more jealous (perhaps, in these cases, the greatest threat
to the relationship is when both partners have had affairs).
2. Assessing the threat: We may spy on our lover and the rival;
we probably lie awake nights worrying about the situation and
reviewing the evidence, "Did she come on to him?" "I wonder if he has
talked to her." "Does he love her?" "Wonder if everybody but me
knows about it?" Women are concerned about their partner becoming
attracted to other women by sex, intelligence, and other attractions,
and dissatisfaction with the current relationship. Thus, women feel
multiple threats. Men are consciously more concerned about their
partner finding someone who will offer a more secure, committed
relationship. Men are more concerned (than women) about protecting
or re-building their egos if they are "beaten out" by another man; they
worry about their partner having sex with someone else (but they'd
probably blame the partner if that did happen). Men see a threat and
feel jealous first, then worry that something is wrong with them.
Women are more concerned with maintaining the relationship; they