Truly, madly, deeply: Why do we get jealous?

Suddenly, this guy just got a whole lot hotter.

Do you ever feel protective of your relationship — as if someone else is out to get your man (or woman)? You may be overly cautious. Or, you may just be reacting normally. “Mate poachers” exist. And Dr. David Buss, author of “The Dangerous Passion,” says we’ve psychological adapted to defend ourselves against such threats.

First, is your partner your equal?: Determine his or her mate value: How desirable is this person on the mating market? Think about anything from looks to social status. When a couple pairs up, they tend to have approximately similar mating values, but discrepancies do develop over time.

“If one gets a big promotion at work, they could increase their mate value by virtue of the position.
The lower mate value person tends to be most jealous as statistically, it’s more likely the higher mate value person either having an affair or terminating the relationship,” says Buss. 

Then, identify the nature of the threat: According to Buss, men and women are equally jealous but differ in the nature of their emotion: “For a man, the sexual aspect of an infidelity poses a threat as it casts a doubt over their paternity certainty.”

Furthermore, “men place a greater premium on physical attractiveness in potential mates, so when women see their man in a sexually charged interaction with a physically more attractive woman, that can drive a women crazy.” Online relationships and even the regular use of porn also trigger jealousy in a woman.  

Take action: “Women enhance their physical appearance as a mate protection tactic whereas men redouble their efforts to fulfill their partners’ desires,” says Bass. On the flip side, “men are more physically reactive and more likely to commit crimes of passion than women,” says Buss. 

A symbol of love?

Seeing other people interested in your partner increases your perceptions of how desirable he or she is.
   
“In this sense, jealousy can be healthy, especially in the early stages of a relationship. Women sometimes intentionally evoke jealousy in their partner (men do too but women do it more) to determine how committed and in love he is or to increase the perception of how desirable she is,” he explains.


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