Jealousy As A Signal That Needs Aren’t Being Met
Most of us avoid the topic of Jealousy, but when we face the feelings and learn new skills, we can transform our relationships and create new intimacy. Being jealous doesn’t mean you’re bad- it may just mean you have some needs that aren’t being met.
Cathy: And Reid just gave an amazing talk on jealousy, and one of the points that you gave, I would love you to go into a little bit here, because it really connected for me. You were talking about jealousy being a signal, that there’s needs not being met. Could you go into that a little bit?
Reid: Mmm hmm. Actually, I heard this first from an educator peer of mine, Kamala Devi. She and I did a relationship DVD together. But she had this idea that jealousy… When you’re feeling jealousy, what it can usually mean is that you have needs that are unmet, and that the jealousy is kind of the dashboard light that starts blinking, that your needs meter is low.
Cathy: Usually people think when they – I know I do, and a lot of people I talk to – if you feel jealous, you feel like you’re wrong, you’re bad, you’re trying to get something you don’t get to have, like there’s this whole story.
Reid: There’s a lot of shaming around jealousy. In Latino culture, and Italian culture, jealousy is how you prove that you love someone! (laughing) I don’t know what accent that was, by the way. (laughing) And you know, in American culture, jealousy is the death knell of “your relationship is going to end.”
Reid: And that’s actually not… It doesn’t have to be that way.
Cathy: Mmm hmm.
Reid: Because we don’t talk about jealousy a lot in our culture, we just always try to avoid it. People’s muscles for dealing with jealousy have atrophied so…
Cathy: They shove it down and try to pretend that it’s not there.
Reid: Yeah, which means that when it comes for you, it clobbers you. So the idea, if you start deconstructing complex emotions like jealousy… People can go to my website, and there’s a whole thing they can download about jealousy.
Cathy: And he has a great product too, the eight-armed…
Reid: Battling The Eight-Armed Octopus of Jealousy. But the idea of, if you look at jealousy as a bunch of different needs…
Cathy: Mmm hmm.
Reid: You know, I would need to feel secure…
Reid: I need to feel special, I have a need to, you know, not feel like I’m gonna lose you. And everyone has different sets of needs, right? Some are more important than others. But when you’re getting your needs met… Like, if I feel like… If you make me feel like I’m special, and my special needs… And I do, really. I have high inclusion needs, which is why I usually run events, because they can’t kick me out! (laughing) But I also have a need to feel special.
Cathy: Mmm hmm.
Reid: So when I’m feeling made special by you, and a couple of my other needs are fulfilled, it’s rare that I would ever get jealous.
Reid: And there’s this idea of treating jealousy like asthma where – and this was kind of my thing that I came up with another peer of mine, Dr. Beth – if you know your triggers, you can avoid having your asthma attack, your jealousy attack. And then if you get really good at knowing your triggers, you actually start doing the work to inoculate yourself against them, you know, taking care of these things in little doses so that you can handle them, but also making sure you’re getting your needs met.
Reid: And what’s really interesting is that, for a lot of people, when you get your needs met, you don’t get “rocked”! And you don’t notice that you don’t get rocked, you only notice when you get rocked!
Reid: When the jealousy comes for you and then you freak out. So if you can break jealousy down to a needs-based kind of thing…
Cathy: Mmm hmm.
Reid: Make sure you’re getting your needs met, ahead of time, like fortify yourself.
Cathy: Mmm hmm.
Reid: Or learn how to ask to get your needs met in the moment. Then jealousy actually doesn’t have to be this crazy, evil thing.
Reid: Jealousy, then, just becomes the little blinking light on your dashboard, that… “Oh, I have some needs that are not getting met, and I know what my usual triggers are so what are the needs inside of that?” Oh. “Hey, honey, you have such a crush on your new friend from work, I don’t feel special. Will you just tell me that you’re never leaving me because I have a fear of being lost? Tell me that you’re never leaving me, that I’m special, and let’s plan a date night for Wednesday.” And then, all of a sudden, because I’ve got my personal time and the reassurance that I need… (heavy sigh) Ahhhhhh!
Cathy: You relax.
Reid: Yeah, and I might – I might even be able to enjoy that you have this silly crush on your work person dude, who I know in six months is just gonna drive you crazy, because you are always like that!
Reid: And, ta-da! Now I know more about myself, I know more about us, and our relationship becomes more solid.
Cathy: Yes, so you can use it as a signal to learn more about yourself.
Reid: Mmm hmm.
Cathy: So just to give another concrete example…
Cathy: If your need for feeling special includes someone giving you coffee once in a while, if that’s something that you like, and the people around you are giving coffee to everyone else, when you’re feeling deprived.
Reid: Well, that’s just mean.
Cathy: Yeah, that’s mean. Well, that would trigger the jealousy.
Cathy: But if you’ve gotten some coffee and you’ve been made to feel special, then someone else getting coffee doesn’t necessarily trigger that feeling.
Reid: Yeah. And I’ll leave you with this thought. There’s a distinction between jealousy and envy. So jealousy would be, in this situation, you know, “I want your new work mate out, and me in!”
Reid: Envy is, I want to be experiencing what you guys are experiencing.
Reid: I’m envious that you have a crush, and I don’t have a crush. Or you know, no one’s crushing on me.
Reid: So that’s also really useful to make that distinction between… Envy is, I want to experience what’s going on.
Cathy: Yeah, you have the great analogy in your Eight-Armed product that, “going for ice cream.” Do you want to go with them? Or do you want to replace the person that’s going?
Reid: Yeah, and in our culture, people think when they feel envy is, “Oh, I want that person out and I want to go get ice cream with you,” whereas really, “I don’t give a flying hoot about the person, I just want some ice cream!” (laughing) And then if I know that about myself, I’m like “Oh, so I’m just envious. That has nothing to do about what’s going on with you and so-and-so.” And then all of a sudden I can relax, and we don’t have to have a big fight about so-and-so when it’s really not about that. Got it?
Cathy: Yeah, thanks!
Reid: You’re welcome!
Cathy: Leave comments.
More articles about jealousy: