Is Jealousy a Relationship Killer?


Dear Anthony,

My girlfriend and I are very serious and talk about marriage. But I’m a little concerned about how she accuses me of being too friendly with other women.  I guess I should be happy that she cares so much for me that she would be jealous of other women. But I wish she would stop being jealous. Am I making too much of this?


It’s hard to tell what all the contributing factors are in order for me to help you fully.  Maybe you’re a hopeless and obvious flirt that would naturally make anyone with you feel uncomfortable or unsettled.  Or maybe she has serious issues from her upbringing (i.e., abandonment by her father, or parents divorced) that make her exaggerate or be overly sensitive about the threat of other women to your relationship.

Jealousy is one of the most common things to happen in a romantic relationship, so it’s very easy for jealousy to pushed aside as an expected part of relationships, and not to be taken too seriously.  But I assure you, jealousy should be taken seriously.  Depending on what is motivating jealousy, it can be a source of death to the relationship.  You might both need to seek some kind of qualified counseling to address this to make sure it is nothing too serious.

Since I can’t know the degrees and nuances to your particular situation, I will just give a general overview about jealousy that could be of some help to you.

First, just as there is such a thing as righteous anger, there is such a thing as righteous jealousy.  Jesus had righteous anger when He overturned the moneychangers in the Temple.  God has a righteous jealousy for the people of God, His bride.

The reality that God is a jealous God means His love is protective.  He does not want his children to stray from Him or hurt themselves.  He wants nothing to disrupt the relationship He has with us. He is deeply committed to His people.  And he expects us to be committed to Him in return through obedience to Him. But what’s most important is that God’s jealousy is about doing what is necessary to restore the relationship.

Jealousy is, in essence, an intolerance of rivals. It can be a virtue or a sin depending on the legitimacy of the rival and the way the situation is handled.  Jealousy is often associated with envy, and too often produces a controlling and over-protective motive in order to subdue the beloved.  These things are never attributed to God, because God’s love includes His respect of our free will.  He does not force us to love Him, nor stay in our relationship with Him, as jealous as He might get.  His jealousy includes pity and mercy, never intent to harm and seek revenge.

Let’s turn the focus on jealousy that is negative, harmful and destructive.

Jealousy is not anger.  Anger generally subsides with time but jealousy coolly calculates and plots revenge.

This is an important distinction.  It’s one thing to be angry, but it’s quite another to seek revenge or purposely desire to cause harm.  Anger settles down in a short time, where jealousy pursues over time.  Anger is a passion of the surface that blows over; then there is a return to calm and clear thinking.  Jealousy is anger permitted to penetrate the depths of one’s being, turning into other more harmful and dangerous things, not so easily removed.

Without fail, jealousy inflicts a death blow to any potential your relationship has. This is because it intrudes on trust.  Jealousy is an enemy of trust. Trust is essential for love to grow between two people.

Peace is the fruit of trust, and jealousy kills peace.  Once peace is killed, there is disorder. Jealousy is a favorite toy of evil because it has as its sole purpose the disturbance of peace and the destruction of trust.

Even if it makes sense to become jealous, it’s better not to.  Better keep faith in love and trust, and allow peaceful environments for communication about any matters of concern that need discussion and resolution.  Choosing the path of jealousy only harms you, making you unfit to contribute positively to the situation.

It’s perverse to consider jealousy attractive. Some women are thrilled when their boyfriend shows that he is jealous. She interprets this as his being a man and standing up for his girl. These same women eventually find out that this jealousy does not die at the altar, but lives on within marriage.  It becomes no longer flattering and will take on new and more harmful forms.

Jealousy is fundamentally an insecurity issue.  The person somehow fears they will be abandoned. A person who is easily jealous doesn’t need a legitimate excuse to become jealous. They find reasons.

If your girlfriend is a jealous person, she must decide to implore the grace of God to help be healed of it. It’s no easy task to stop being jealous. Like all habits, it takes great effort to break it.

Human beings are often disordered, and our anger and jealousy are bad in motive, thus our jealousy acts with a petty, insecure, suspicious outrage which can kill a relationship that might never have had to end. God shows a beautiful, passionate commitment to us, and His anger and jealousy are ordered, without ever getting out of hand.

Jealousy is not the answer, even if there is just cause, strictly because it is counter-productive and causes more harm.  It also prompts a departure from who you are, and who you are supposed to be; namely, a Christian whose faith is strong.





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