How many times had you thought about checking your partner's phone whenever you saw that notification icon pop up on their phone screen? And how often do you feel jealous of your partner liking or commenting on other people's posts?
If the above questions seemed familiar to you, then don’t worry; you’re not alone. Jealousy and internet infidelity are closely linked to each other and are awfully common. Social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were invented to connect people and businesses from around the world with each other. While these social networks do serve the purpose of connecting people and businesses, it has also become a medium through which people cheat on their partners. Social media networks also lead to suspicion or jealously as people have access to millions of people’s profiles on one single platform, including features like direct messaging, videos, pictures, video calling, voice calling, likes, shares, and comments. Suspicious partners often break into their partner’s phone to access their social media accounts to find out if they are cheating on them, which is a severe invasion of privacy.
According to a survey done on 2400 adults from the UK who were caught cheating and who cheated on their partners, 41% of participants were able to find out about their partner’s affair by checking out their partner’s mobile phone. In contrast, 23% of participants found out about it by checking their partner’s Facebook account and 13% by checking their personal computer or tablet.
Sociological Foundation of Jealousy
Jealousy is a complex emotion surrounded by feelings of suspicion, rage, fear, and humiliation in psychological terms. This feeling is present in people of all genders, ages and sexual orientations. The feeling of jealousy is usually aroused when a person perceives a threat to a valuable relationship from a third party. The danger can either be real or imaginary and is usually based on one’s intuition. Jealousy occurs in every kind of relationship, from a friend competing for best friend’s attention to coworkers trying to impress their boss.
However, jealousy is not just a feeling but a necessary emotion to preserve social bonds. According to evolutionary psychologists, jealousy should not be overlooked or suppressed. On the contrary, one should pay attention to jealously, as it acts as a wake-up call, that a valuable relationship is in danger, and necessary steps should be taken to regain the trust, affection, and attention of a person you hold dear to your heart. Even though the internet and social media are relatively modern, cheating and jealously felt over them has their roots in the past. According to a theory by psychology Professor David Buss, jealousy motivates behavior to either protect offspring against the loss of essential requirements like food or protect them from weather and predators. Apart from this, it also ensures sexual exclusivity.
Different Origins of Jealousy in Men and Women
In 1992, Buss and his colleagues conducted a study in which they asked the participants to imagine two scenarios. The first scenario in which the participant’s partners were involved in sexual connection with someone else, and the second scenario in which their partner was involved in an emotional relationship with another person. Buss found out that women were more distressed about the emotional scenario ( 83% compared to 17% men), and men were more distressed about sexual liaison ( 60% compared to 40% women).
According to this theory, there’s a drastic difference between men and women in terms of Jealousy. The theory suggests that losing sexual exclusivity is more damaging to men than women, as his woman’s involvement in sexual infidelity could result in his woman rearing another man’s child. As a result, men evolved to be more sexually jealous. On the other hand, women grew to be more emotionally jealous because securing vital resources was more important for ancestral women to raise their offspring. Her man’s emotional involvement with other women meant a diversion of resources away from her offspring to the rival, which posed a more significant threat to the nurturing of the child.
Apart from this, many similar studies were conducted using different methods involving participants from different cultures. And the majority of studies confirmed that both men and women don’t feel jealousy in a similar manner.
Technology and Jealousy
Now the real question arises, whether this ancient emotion still applies in the age of technological advancement? Yes, change in technology didn’t bring any change to the way we feel jealousy. A study published in 2015 used an eye tracker to record the time the participants visually focused on Facebook messages. They found that female participants were more focused on messages which revealed emotional infidelity, and male participants were more focused on Facebook messages which revealed sexual infidelity. This study also revealed that women were unjustifiably and disproportionately blamed for infidelity by men compared to women who were more distressed by the messages received from other women than they were by the messages sent by their man.
Even though studies suggest that jealousy is a valuable emotion, it can be damaging if not kept in check. Jealousy can result in violent behavior, monitoring other person’s communications and personal life, monitoring relationships, moral policing etc. Simply acknowledging the feeling of jealousy can strengthen a relationship in the present and help ward off its negative repercussions in the future.
So, next time you feel jealous about your partner or sibling or colleague, don’t be ashamed because it’s a natural feeling, and you cannot run away from it. Just make sure that you practice mindfulness and don’t let it ruin your relationships.