Jealousy: Where Does It Spring From?

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Aside from love, jealousy is probably the most talked about emotion in stories, poems, and other forms of literature. This is perhaps because the two are usually very much intertwined. There is jealousy because there was love in the first place. 

Academically speaking, it is said that there is jealousy when a partner perceives a threat to their relationship, be it romantic or familial. The threat can either be real or imagined. With this, a partner can feel very jealous even if there is no objective real-world basis for their responses. 

According to studies, jealousy springs from a handful of psychological states, and we are going to discuss three of them here.

Low Self-Esteem

Years of research have shown that jealous partners are oftentimes those who have low self-esteem or high feelings of inadequacy. These people tend to not feel secure about anything–including their romantic connections– because they have this faulty belief that they are not enough to hold things or keep things together. 

What makes low self-esteem individuals quite unique is the fact that they tend to keep their jealousy and other negative emotions to themselves. They rarely vocalize them, but these emotions are already torturing them inside. 

Low self-esteem, of course, does not only affect relationships. This psychological state also festers in individuals in other aspects of their lives including their careers and social lives. Because of this, it’s really a good thing that the top prep school and other learning institutions in the country are trying to incorporate personality development in their programs. After all, success isn’t measured by just academic learning but also by how well the individuals weather their unique social circumstances. 


Oftentimes, jealousy springs from a person’s possessiveness over their partner. Such possessiveness often lead to a sense of entitlement. To illustrate, a girlfriend has every right to be possessive (hence, jealous) when her boyfriend flirts with other women. The label girlfriend that her boyfriend himself bestowed on her brings with it a bundle of exclusive rights to things, most especially her boyfriend’s sexual advances. But there are people who start being possessive even before the relationship becomes official. At this stage, the sense of entitlement is badly misplaced, since we cannot expect people to deliver on something that they have yet to agree to.  


If low self-esteem is internally focused, insecurity is very external. This is the feeling that others are always at an advantage physically, in terms of their intellect, or along any other dimension.  The mere presence of such others around the partner is enough to trigger strong jealousy. 

Insecurity is such a problematic thing to have. Oftentimes, the object or target of this feeling is not even aware that they are being viewed as a threat (because oftentimes they are not even making efforts to threaten the relationship) or that there are already strong negative opinions being held against them. 

Despite its bad reputation, jealousy remains to be one of the most normal and common emotions. Knowing its source is important for any intervention to work.