If we are habituated to give love only when we’re already being loved and feeling loved, we will be hit especially hard by jealousy. When we depend on the ready supply of another’s love, the withdrawal or loss or redirection of that love is devastating.
Even the imagined threat of such loss can trigger jealousy, injecting us with chronic suspicion, reducing us to part-time sleuths sniffing around for signs of rejection or outright betrayal.
It takes great courage to not shut down our heart — or not to keep it shut down — when we’re being rejected or replaced. To give the love that we ache to receive in the midst of feeling the pain of dwindling or withdrawn love asks that we leave our comfort zone. This doesn’t mean that we ought to be openhearted with those who have betrayed or abandoned us, but that we need not let our jealousy toward them take us down.
When we’re gripped by jealousy and torn by the rejection it signals, it’s crucial that we not reject ourselves — as can happen when we blame ourselves for the other’s turning away from us. We don’t have to love our jealousy, but sooner or later we do need to start loving the place in us — vulnerable, dependent, and so, so soft — that is chained and screaming in the black pit of our jealousy.
Finding our heart while we are jealous does not necessarily mean that we won’t be angry. If our significant other deliberately incites our jealousy, perhaps to feel a desired sense of control, we might feel for them in their neurotic ritual, but we can also let our anger flame forth by clearly saying “no” to what is being done.
And if there has been a major betrayal? Rage is an entirely natural response, and we may have to cut loose with it—skillfully—for a while before we can bring in our heart. We may not reach the domain of wrathful compassion for a bit, but we will reach it if we let our rage flow fully in a noninjurious way while working not to dehumanize our offending other.
When we’re jealous it’s important to openly admit that we are feeling rejected or unwanted — and it’s just as important not to let this feeling balloon out of proportion. There’s plenty of hurt in rejection, but when we overfocus on being rejected, we lose touch with its underlying hurt and arguably even reject that. And so we might end up doing to ourselves what our jealous-inducing other is apparently doing to us.
When we’re being truly loving, we do not reject the other, but we may reject — and need to reject — something that the other is doing.