Jealousy and envy

“Jealousy” is what I feel when someone – someone whom I fear I may lose – wants something other than me (and thus exposes me to the fear that I may lose her or him).  “Envy” is what I feel when someone else gets something I want.

We (or at least many of us) often use “jealousy” to describe the emotion we feel when someone we love fucks (or kisses) someone else.  I wonder if this is right:  I wonder if the jealousy isn’t more appropriately attributable to the desire in our beloved to fuck (or kiss) another, and if what we feel about the actual act isn’t more rightly labeled “envy.”

I recently read Nancy Friday‘s Jealousy, and she wrote that one way to discern whether you’re jealous or envious is to notice at whom your anger is directed:  if it’s your lover, then you’re envious; if it’s the third, then you’re jealous.  I’m not sure if this is true, but it’s certainly interesting to ponder.

In any event, jealousy is not a primary emotion (at least for me):  it is a sort of refraction of fear and anger.  And anger itself often isn’t primary – nine times out of ten, it’s what I feel instead of feeling fear, or shame, or sadness – when I want to protect myself from admitting what I really feel.

So for me, jealousy is simply the fear that I may become (or already am) superfluous.

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