10 May

Jealousy is a funny thing. It seems to be something we’re born with, a sort of self protective possessiveness that makes one positively a pain in the backside to everyone around us, not least, the object of our possessiveness.

It starts young, how often has one heard the small firstborn child screaming at the mother about their newborn sibling:

“You love her more than me, you don’t love me any more, I hate her, put her back!!”

Followed by sobbing and tears until mummy finally manages to convince #1 child that she loves them both equally, perhaps in different ways (because they are both different people), and that although she is paying more attention to #2 child at present, that is because they are too small to do things for themselves and so need more attention.

Eventually #1 child calms down and warily watches mummy and #2 child, observing how mummy, although giving a lot of her time and attention to the new baby, still has time for them.

Over time, #1 child realises that mummy was telling the truth. She does love both of them equally, but in different ways, and child is happy, because he hasn’t lost his mummy, he just has to share her a bit, and in return he gets a baby sister who, although a bit annoying at times is actually quite cute.

Jealousy resolved.

Then child starts school or nursery. At first he meets lots of new people and makes new friends every day.

But in time, he meets a friend that he likes to play with every day. They like the same games, they watch the same TV programmes, they’re ‘best friends’.

However one day, friend starts to play with another child at break. Child is distraught, goes home to mummy and cries, “my best friend doesn’t like me any more. He played with another boy at lunch time and now they’re best friends instead!”

Mummy tells him not to be silly, his friend is still his friend. If he’s playing with the other boy tomorrow then just find someone else to play with or join in with them.

Child is unsure. His friend has always been his friend. He doesn’t want to share, but he doesn’t want to find a new friend. This one was perfect.

So maybe not the next day, perhaps the one after, he ventures over and starts playing with his old friend and the interloper. As he does so, he realises this new boy is actually quite fun, different from his old friend but a good person to play with. And his old friend doesn’t hate him, he hasn’t replaced him with new boy, he just has two friends now instead of one.

In the same way mummy can love two children, friends can have two friends.

Jealousy resolved.

As child grows up, he finds himself becoming interested in girls, and one girl in particular.

He’s never had friends who are girls before but he thinks he might like to be friends with this one. He starts to talk to her, she’s a nice girl, well brought up and they get on well.

They start meeting up down the park, holding hands, going to the cinema, until a few years later they’re ‘adults’ and boyfriend and girlfriend.

Girlfriend has a lot of girl friends. They do girl stuff together like boy does boy stuff with his friends.

Boy and his friends talk about girls a lot, girls they fancy, girls in magazines, on TV. Girls in general.

Then boy sees girlfriend with another boy. They’re talking perhaps, nothing bad, but boy doesn’t like it. He’s meant to be the only boy she likes talking to. If she wants to talk then why doesn’t she talk to her girl friends. Does she like new boy more than him?

The next day he asks girlfriend what she was doing. Just out with a friend she says. Just talking.

Boy doesn’t like this.

He’s too old to talk to his mummy now, and so he talks to his friends.

“Well if it were you talking to another girl,” they say, “what would you be doing that for. You only talk to a girl if you want her to be your girlfriend.”

“He’s just a friend,” girlfriend says, “we just talk about stuff.”

“Well why can’t you talk to me?” Boy says, “do you like him more than me?”

“Of course not,” girlfriend says, “he’s just a friend, you’re my boyfriend.”

“Well if you loved me you wouldn’t need to talk to other boys,” boyfriend says. “I don’t want you to see him any more.”

Girlfriend is confused. Boy has never complained about her talking to her friends before. She has two choices, to stop talking to her friend, or not.

Choice 1
Boy: so what happened to that so called friend of yours?
Girl: I stopped talking to him. Wasn’t that what you wanted?
Boy: well if you were only friends you wouldn’t stop talking to him would you? Cos you weren’t doing anything wrong were you. So you must have been up to something.
Girl: *confused*

Choice 2
Boy: so why are you still speaking to him? I told you I didn’t want you to speak to him.
Girl: he’s just a friend
Boy: and I’m your boyfriend. It’s me or him.
Girl: I love you, you’re my boyfriend, he’s just a friend, I have lots of friends, I don’t understand the problem.
Boy: the problem is, I don’t want you to talk to him. If you love me like you keep saying then you’d pick me over him. So I guess that means you don’t love me.
Girl: but I do! *confused*

Jealousy unresolved.


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