“Jealousy and happiness are sworn enemies” – Stephen L. DeFelice, M.D.
I never was and never want to be jealous for, as I’ve repeatedly emphasized, I really don’t like suffering! Dostoevsky, the great Russian novelist who understood the inner workings of the human mind more than classic philosophers and psychiatrists, was convinced that humans love to suffer. If that be true, I’m not human. On the other hand, observing human behavior for a long, long time, the man spoke the truth. Lots of people love to suffer.
A couple of decades ago, I made a judgment that the passion of jealousy had to be dramatically accelerating both in intensity and prevalence because of increased sexual activity as well as increased types of sexual relationships among different partners. Since then, sexual appetites and the quest for their fulfillment have increasingly skyrocketed. Jealousy and suffering must be as rampant and extant as never before particularly among the young. But what is puzzling is that jealousy, as a cause of suffering and unhappiness, is hardly mentioned in our national conversations.
I must confess that once -for a brief moment only- I thought that the mind altering power of technology and the prevalent use of drugs might have suppressed mankind’s natural passion of jealousy. About six months ago, I met a high school student whose girlfriend went off to a university far away. Before she left, he told me, straight –faced, that he gave her condoms and advised her to carry them with her in case anyone of her future sex mates forgot them. In addition, he coached her on the types of men she should hit the sack with. Frankly speaking, I couldn’t believe my ears. What a way to be in love!
A few days later, I had a drink with a good-looking, well-grounded senior male who attends a major university and who also has a winning personality. The ladies like the guy. I asked him about the jealousy scene in the universities. I reasoned that, since there are all kinds of culturally acceptable very brief, sex- relief types of relationships now going on, guys and gals are getting used to it. It’s like eating a hamburger when you’re hungry. One would not expect much jealousy. He said, “It ain’t so. No way. It’s all over the place.” He then made an insightful observation which, for some reason, had eluded me. He points his finger at Facebook as a major cause of jealousy. The steady flow of photos and messages from a partner or others to the co- partner creates lots of jealousy and mental anguish. “Picture a Facebook photo of your honeybun with his or her friends, which is very common, smiling, hugging and doing whatever and how you feel.” I took his advice and imagined a scenario where I was a young man with a deep crush on my girlfriend who was matriculating at a university on the other side of the National Divide. She’s deeply tanned and at a beach party in her bikini with her drink in hand. She’s obviously on a high as judged by her glazed eyes and broader than normal smile, surrounded by a couple of smiling guys and gals in the photo, also with drinks in hand, with the Facebook message, “I miss you, honey!”
Because of my research instincts, I called about a dozen frequent users of Facebook. All agreed that this and other types of jealousy-provoking messages are common on Facebook and increasingly on Twitter. When asked why men and women do this for they surely must know that such acts provoke jealousy, none had a satisfying answer except that sometimes it is done to actually provoke jealousy as a strategic love move that would make their partners appreciate them more. But, of course, it frequently leads to mental anguish and the disruption of the relationship. Also, let’s not forget that even small seemingly insignificant messages, photos or videos can mightily trigger the powerful sensitive jealousy brain center of many.
I am not aware of a credible clinical study evaluating both the prevalence and intensity of cyberspace-induced jealousy. In the medical journals that I read the mental impact of jealousy is rarely mentioned. I have a hunch which I can’t prove. Here goes: For some reason people burden with jealousy are reluctant to visit a psychiatrist, psychologist or other types of professionals for help. Who knows why!
The famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, broke off from Freud who stressed sex, in a general sense, is the primary motivator of a broad spectrum of human behavior. Jung believed much behavior is related to being secure and jealousy is a great threat to a man or woman’s security. For this reason, he opened a clinic in Zurich targeted to treat primarily jealous patients. Guess what? Few showed up, and he closed the clinic.
What’s the message? If someone wishes to maintain an amorous relationship with another, pay closer attention to what is said and sent. There’s enough suffering in life to foolishly add another layer to it because of cyberspace carelessness.
High volume sex in the United States is a first time historic phenomenon. I, very much concerned, extensively cover and wonder about all types of sex patterns and where they are leading us. Not too long ago, I had an intriguing conversation with a mother and her daughter who were open about their sexual experiences with multiple men describing a few scenes in impressive graphic detail. Please don’t ask me how this happened! I was somewhat uncomfortable for it was a first for me, and I decided to just listen and ask a few pointed questions. Curious as hell, I asked the daughter, “Does it bother you to hear your mom talk about her sexcapades with different men particularly the one in which she was sodomized and talked about how she loved it?” She replied, “Doc, you’re in the dark ages. This is normal these days, and mothers and daughters should discuss their experiences. Why not?” The mother agreed. I then asked about whether this also happened with the father-husband. He left town when the daughter was a teenager and was not involved.
A couple of days after, when I was having my martini, I wondered where we’re heading with men and women having large numbers of different sexual partners. Is there a difference if a man beds with fifty women than vice versa? Is it more harmful to men or women? Now I’m going to piss-off some women- and even some men at our universities- with my answer. I concluded it is much more harmful to women!
“Where’s the evidence?” you ask. “According to your posts you’re a big guy on producing evidence by clinical studies. Where are they?” My immediate reaction is that my judgment is based on observation and experiencing human behavior over four generations. As women age their interest is pursuing sex partners significantly diminishes while that of men decreases far less. Menopause tells us that. Now I don’t need a clinical study but only my observation and experience to make that judgment. For example, if an unaccompanied blindfolded man crosses Broadway in Manhattan, he has a greater chance of being hit by a car and killed than a person with normal vision.
Because of its complexity, I decided to write three posts in order to develop a convincing argument to warn women about the negative side of having multiple sex partners. I define the negative side as experiencing stress, instability and unhappiness. I began to write a draft covering many aspects of women’s and men’s sexual revolution ranging from psychology to the menopause. Half-way through my writing, I decided what I had to say was not sufficiently enlightening, let alone convincing, to me. It was also too boiler- plate for women. There was something missing, and it bothered me. I couldn’t figure it out and decided not to continue with the post and move on to another subject.
That night, however, I went to my local bar-restaurant where I sometimes do my writing. It’s a delightful place where both the rich and not- so- rich mingle and dine on tasty, inexpensive Italian food. The waitresses there work hard to make money on the side to support their families. They’re good, upper gals, and I truly enjoy the banter with them.
Then it happened! I decided to ask the waitresses who they thought would experience more harm. It was a busy night, and they were moving to and fro like the wind. As my favorite waitress, Robyn, flew by my table she, almost shouting, said, “It’s women. It’s expectations. Women have greater expectations!”
This hit me like a lightning bolt, and I had an Archimedes’s Eureka moment. Robyn hit it on the nose regarding what was bothering me. In my long life’s sojourn there is little doubt in my mind that this characteristic is biologically integrated in the female mentality much more than in the male’s. As I frequently do, I called others for their opinion, mostly women, including Heidi, a lady of class and intelligent feminist who lives in Zurich, Switzerland. All, including Heidi, and without hesitation, wholeheartedly agreed.