I called her the jealous woman. She was fierce and relentless, and during a difficult period in my life she arose in me when she sensed a threat. I was dating someone around that time. The butterflies were flying, and much of the time it felt so right, but the jealous woman kept popping up. I tried asking the jealous woman questions: What did she want? Why was she sabotaging me? What could I do to make her go away?
As it turns out, trying to make the jealous side of myself disappear was not the most helpful approach. Instead, says Aida Manduley, a sexuality educator and trauma-focused therapist, “it can be really useful to befriend your jealousy.” Jealousy can be a burning, urgent, awful feeling. But behind that immediate experience, there are important clues about where we’re at and what we need.
“I absolutely believe that it’s a place to be curious,” says Meisha Thrasher, a therapist, member of the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, and cofounder of WOCTribal, a nonprofit coalition for Women Of Color that promotes national dialogue on whole-body wellness. Most of us, whether we have one partner or ten, experience jealousy. While this achingly intense feeling is, frankly, a pain in the ass, it’s also deeply human.