Very good, well-rounded piece, although I read that Tony Robbins quote and some of the others and shake my head because that just doesn’t compute for me. The other day I spent the afternoon in bed with my husband of 27 years and a male friend/lover of ours. There was tons of passion and desire and there was zero jealousy or uncertainty. I just find this whole notion so foreign and also unnecessary.

As you correctly identified, jealousy is kind of a patriarchal construct, where ownership of partners is related to needing certainty in parentage. But that’s only a 10,000 year old thing. For 97% of human history, humans didn’t particularly care who the father of a child was because they lived in small communal groups where everyone took care of everyone else. Even in rudimentary pair-bonding, women would mate with several men at a time. In lowland South America, partible paternity (several fathers for one child) is still fairly common today. The need for and acceptability of the levels of jealousy most people consider reasonable is really largely a recent societal construct.

The power dynamic aspect of jealousy that you’ve identified is, I think, an important thing to note. Patriarchy is a dominance hierarchy rather than partnership-oriented, so it makes sense that it would be a big factor in current society.

The great anthropologist and comparativist Sarah Hrdy tells us that, across species, including among humans, the best mother for many eons was the one who was, under particular and far-from-rare ecological circumstances, promiscuous. By being so, she could hedge against male infertility, up her odds of a healthy pregnancy and robust offspring, and create a wider network of support by lining up two or three males who figured the offspring might be theirs.”

I do definitely agree with you that jealousy is an opportunity for self-reflection and self-inventory though and I appreciate your thoughtful exploration of this topic.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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