Jealousy is an emotion that almost everyone in a relationship experiences from time to time. Persistent feelings of jealousy can damage a relationship and can be difficult for both parties, especially if the feelings are irrational or have no basis in reality. The BBC article, "Understanding Jealousy," notes that this complex reaction occurs because it involves a wide range of thoughts, emotions and behaviors. The feelings of jealousy are often rooted in three main causes of insecurity, fear and competition.
Feelings of insecurity usually arise when one member of the relationship questions the other's feelings. Insecurity is often rooted in low self-esteem, but may also be due to a lack of attention from the couple. If a member of the couple has low self-esteem or low self-confidence, feelings of jealousy are easily triggered by seemingly harmless stimuli, such as a member of the couple talking to a member of the opposite sex, or looking at someone passing by. the street. People who compare themselves with others or constantly try to meet unrealistic expectations of themselves may find that these feelings arise frequently.
The fear of losing the couple continues to be a major trigger for feelings of jealousy. The BBC article points out that sometimes feelings of jealousy can be natural and can encourage a partner not to take each other for granted. Being aware that one can lose the partner can strengthen the bonds between couples, but not when this feeling of fear becomes obsessive or irrational. People may fear that their partner wants to replace them with someone "better" or more desirable. Providing or seeking justification can help alleviate some of these fears.
Competitive feelings are the normal human emotions from which jealousy may arise when they feel at an extreme level. An article by James Park of the University of Minnesota notes that many people who suffer from feelings of jealousy waste energy trying to be better than others instead of trying to be their "best" self by becoming unique individuals. They can compete constantly with others and they can see someone as a potential threat. Competitiveness can sometimes help one to make the best of each, but it can result in constant questioning of oneself, wondering what others have that they do not.