Chapter 5

Loving without Jealousy

As We Becoming More Authentic, Jealousy Disappears

Love is living the experience of another person
in all his uniqueness and singularity. —Viktor Frankl



A. Replaceability—Being Better Means Being the Same .........74
B. How We Might Become Singular and Irreplaceable .............75

IV. THE DYNAMICS OF JEALOUSY ..........................................................79

A. Which Telephone Service Will He Use? ....................................80
B. Jealousy is More than Mere Loss of Love ................................81
C. The Comparison Game ..................................................................83
D. Sexual Jealousy ..............................................................................85
V. WHAT TO DO ABOUT JEALOUSY .........................................................86

VI. SUMMARY ...................................................................................................88



    Thought experiment: Close your eyes and imagine the one
you love in the arms of another. How does this make you feel?
Is it a distressing picture or are you happy for the person you love?
Would you be comfortable to be present?
Do you prefer to put such images completely out of mind?

    The bitter feeling of hurt and hostility we call jealousy
can become one of the most powerful obsessions of human life.
Yet this emotion is a social construct—with ancient cultural roots.
The drama built around 'the eternal triangle' is still reinforced by
TV soap operas, popular songs, fiction, and advice columnists.
Our belief that loving more than one person always creates jealousy
is so ingrained in our idea of love that few people have ever questioned it.
How unusual it would be for a television series
to show people who were happily involved in multiple loving,
who were loving 2 or 3 people openly, freely—without jealousy!

    But while love remains primarily the satisfaction of prior needs
or the fulfilling of conventional romantic or marital roles,
when a competing relationship emerges, jealousy is very likely.
No matter how well we satisfy needs and fulfill expectations,
others can satisfy the same needs just as well—or even better.

    Within most 'loving' relationships, jealousy is natural:
If we find ourselves supplanted, traded-in for a better model,
we naturally feel a sense of loss, anger, grief, and betrayal.


     But we can create new loving relationships immune to jealousy.
This does not mean repressing, suppressing, or denying our feelings.
Rather, as we slowly re-create ourselves to be more autonomous,
the basis of our love shifts from comparable human qualities
to the appreciation and sharing of our freely-chosen life-projects.
As our relationships arise more clearly from our dawning uniqueness,
we are less susceptible to comparison, competition, and replacement.

     Very few relationships have become so Authentic
that they have precluded exchangeability—and the threat of jealousy.
We may think we have become irreplaceable in love,
but when 'competing' relationships emerge, we feel threatened.

     However, if we learn how to love from Authenticity,
we will rejoice when the people we love create new relationships
because meaningful relationships based in Authenticity
enrich the lives of those we love without replacing us.


         A. Replaceability—Being Better Means Being the Same.

     We live in a depersonalized world in which even people
—like mass-produced objects—become replaceable parts.
Uniformity and substitution is the general rule everywhere.
When we seek jobs, other applicants have the same qualifications.
When we compete for the available partners on the 'love-market',
we know that others would make equally satisfactory companions.

     In the drama of ordinary love, we play well-scripted roles
complex patterns of interaction we have learned from our culture.
And because all the lines and moves are well known in advance,
an understudy could easily step in and take over our functions
—if we become too old for the part, fall ill, or even die.
For instance, if we have been playing the role of 'wife' or 'husband',
we can easily be replaced as a spouse.
But what if an understudy handles the role better than the star?
Perhaps whoever fills the role best will get the job permanently!

     When we feel the threat of being replaced in one of our roles,
we usually strive to become the best player of that part.
Our culture says—in the job-market as well as the love-market—
that excellence is the best way to beat the competition.
So we compete with the others within the accepted criteria:
We try to be the best social companions for those we want to attract,
the best cooks, best sex-partners, best providers,
the most stimulating and interesting personalities
—becoming the best at whatever 'ideal' women or men provide.

     But becoming 'better' than others really means being the same.
Excellence is a measure of conformity to an agreed cultural ideal.
Jealousy is prevented not by excellence but by irreplaceability.


        B. How We Might Become Singular and Irreplaceable.  

     We all come from the same gene pool.
And our personalities have been shaped primarily by socialization.  
Biological and cultural accidents have made us particular persons.  
But as we become more aware of ourselves, we gain the capacity    
to re-create ourselves to be singular and irreplaceable persons.  
If we use our freedom to redirect our lives toward our own goals,  
we can rise above the biological ‘purposes’ given by nature               
and we can transcend the ready-made life-patterns of any culture.

     Becoming more Authentic might begin with noticing the absurd.  
When we see human life as an accident in a meaningless universe,
this shock might stimulate us to create some meanings of our own.  
Like short-lived volcanic islands in the middle of the ocean,
we can create ourselves as small points of meaning in the absurd.
The dark waves of death will eventually wash over us,
but between now and then we can at least live Authentically.

     In the long process of re-making ourselves, we begin with
our original personalities as created by our parents and culture.  
And the sooner we understand the depth of our social conditioning,
the sooner we can begin to re-design our lives.
Every inch of this struggle toward greater Authenticity must be won
against tremendous social pressures to conform, to be like others,
to adopt some of the comfortable patterns of life we see around us.  

     In any specific phase of our growth toward greater Authenticity,
we can name only a few things that need improvement.     
But after we make those changes, we discover ‘new’ inauthenticities.  
Looking back from a position of considerable maturity,
might notice beliefs and values we once took for granted
that we now see as accidental inventions of culture.  
might even discover that everything in human culture is arbitrary.  
If all human life-styles and purposes are historical accidents,
then we are liberated to re-create our lives as we please.  

     When we resolve to become singular and irreplaceable,
we must first evaluate and criticize our assumed life-purposes.
When we were babies, comfort and pleasure were our primary ‘aims’.
Later we sought approval from parents, teachers, and peers.
And probably we adopted the ‘normal’ patterns of life around us.    

     But if we become aware of the arbitrariness of all human purposes,   
this insight can help us to pry ourselves loose from indoctrination.
As we develop the capacity to think independently and critically,
we slowly gain more ability to transcend our enculturation.
We can emerge from our tribe as noticeably different individuals.
Finally we can take possession of our lives, become our own persons
by resisting all prefabricated social roles
and reorganizing our lives around our own purposes.    

Chapter 5   LOVING WITHOUT JEALOUSY  by     JAMES PARK   75                                                                                   

   If we consistently pursue our new invented life-purposes,
after several years of growth, we
might re-invent our selves.
From an existential perspective, we are what we pursue;
we can be understood by the projects we undertake.

     We might choose first to organize our lives
around the long-term project of creating a new life-purpose.  
Eventually we
might choose an unpopular Authentic project-of-being,
such as trying to insure that every child born will be a wanted child.
Or we could help children grow up without harmful enculturation
—enabling them later to re-invent themselves if they so choose.  
Or we could encourage adults to transcend their enculturation
and re-create themselves to be more Authentic and non-reproducible.  
Possibly we could help people to see new options for their lives
and support them thru difficult times of change and uncertainty.  
We might find it meaningful to work to reform outdated laws.  
Maybe we will support people who are dissolving their marriages.
Or we might offer to be companions for the dying.  
We might even choose unheard-of purposes
—life-projects that have never been tried before.  
We become Authentic and non-interchangeable to the degree
that we resist and transcend all prefabricated social roles  
—and pursue life-purposes we decide to be intrinsically valuable.  

     As we re-invent ourselves by choosing new life-purposes,
we will become: one of a kind, singular, irreplaceable,
inimitable, incomparable, unprecedented.
The important differences between us and other people
will not be found in superficial, measurable quantities
(having more hair or slimmer legs)
or in comparable qualities of temperament
(having a better sense of humor, being more warm and tender).
Bodily or temperamental differences do not make us unique.
With respect to our physical and psychological characteristics,
we differ from others only in degree, never in kind.  

     But we can become intrinsically different from everyone else
by reconstructing ourselves from the core—from our inner depths.
We must design our own blueprints for new selves.  
After years of deciding the fundamental directions of our lives,
we become more the creations of our own free choices
than the products of genetic endowment and cultural conditioning.  
Then, because we have created ourselves—not copied others—   
even if others choose similar Authentic projects-of-being,
we remain nevertheless singular, self-creating, unmatchable persons.
The inner process of re-inventing ourselves is uniquely our own.
We must channel our own anxiety, meaninglessness, and despair
defiantly into our own distinctive designs-of-being.  
We become non-reproducible persons with never-repeatable lives.


    The possibilities open to human beings
vastly exceed the ways-of-life that have already been tried.  
The styles of becoming the same are limited;  
but the ways of becoming unique are infinite.
Not only can we become unrepeatable persons
by reorganizing our lives Authentically,
but we can create unique ways of becoming unique!


{This section---3 pages---omitted here.}


     Jealousy arises in human relationships because of
comparison, competition, and the fear of being replaced.
It is easy to see why jealousy often arises in relationships
that involve only the physical and psychological dimensions
—because comparison and competition are almost unavoidable
when we think of people in terms of their bodies and personalities.
But if we become more Authentic, we move beyond jealousy
because we love from the depths of our self-creating uniqueness.

Chapter 5   LOVING WITHOUT JEALOUSY   by JAMES PARK                79

      A. Which Telephone Service Will He Choose?

     The jealousy easily aroused in ordinary ‘loving' relationships
is like the rivalry between long-distance telephone companies.
All the companies vie for the business of the phone-user.
They all provide basically the same service, fill the same needs.
Thus when a customer decides to switch companies,
the company that loses his business to one of its competitors
feels jealous, inadequate, replaced in the life of the phone-user.
It is worse than simply losing the caller's business
to discover that he prefers another telephone company.

     Likewise, two women or two men
who are competing for the affections of the same person
present their comparable qualities in the best possible light.
Since they see themselves as providing the same services,
filling the same needs (companionship, affection, security, etc.),
each must claim to perform the desired functions better.
They exhibit and advertise their physical and emotional qualities,
hoping to appear better than their competitors.

     But loving on the basis of Authenticity
—appreciating others as unique, self-creating persons,
valuing them for their singular Authentic projects-of-being—
is not like comparing long-distance phone companies.
Singular persons do not fill the same needs.
They are not competing with one another
—even when limited time requires a choice between them—
because they are not trying to provide similar ‘loving' services.

     If our loving relationships have been transformed by Authenticity 
if we are loving as unique, irreplaceable persons—
jealousy does not arise when people we love spend time with others.
If we cannot be replaced by any rivals, no matter how wonderful,
when our lovers spend meaningful time with others,
such sharing does not threaten our relationships
any more than when the people we love spend time alone.

     If jealousy does not arise when someone I love wants to be alone,
why should it arise when (s)he wants to be with someone else
—unless I am afraid of being compared and replaced?
And if I can be compared-with and replaced-by another person,
it means that I was fulfilling some general function
or performing a role that someone else could do just as well
—that I was not being loved as an utterly unique person.
If my Authentic project-of-being is the basis of my relationships,
I will not worry about how the people I love spend their free time
because no matter what other relationships develop,
no one can ever replace me.
In becoming singular, I transcend the threat of exchangeability.


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How to cite the above pages from New Ways of Loving

    Students and scholars are invited to quote
anything from the above pages. 
Here is the proper form for the footnote or other reference: 

James Park  New Ways of Loving:
How Authenticity Transforms Relationships

(Minneapolis, MN: Existential Books, 2007
6th edition)
p. xx  

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If you would like to read a three-page article about jealousy, go to:
Romantic Jealousy: Cause and Prevention

If you would like to read other books that take this perspective on jealousy,
go to the Jealousy Bibliography .

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