That Jealous Balance

(On Jealousy and Relationships)
I wish I knew where to draw the line between having a healthy jealousy and having an obsessive jealousy for someone else.

When it comes to having a healthy jealousy (or having a “normal relationship”, for that matter,) one might think of the old adage: “If you love somebody, set them free.” It seems like this idea that one should both “care” yet “not care” for a loved one has quickly become ever more socially acceptable (at least in the United States.) If one cares “too much” for one’s significant other, it may be a sign of further, underlying issues at work. But on the other hand, if one does not give love, time and attention to one’s significant other, the relationship may become hard to maintain. Is there any middle ground, here? Is there any way to care for a loved one while still maintaining a healthy level of jealousy?

When it comes to having an obsessive jealousy, one might be tempted to think of the relationship between G-d and the Israelites. The jealousy of G-d is a curious thing. When reading Exodus 20:5 or Deuteronomy 6:15, one word for jealousy (“qanna“) can be found (and this is just a superficial look at the meanings that accompany and make up the word “qanna”.) This word “qanna” is interesting in that it appears [1] to also translate to the word “zealous”… which (in English, at least,) can also be interpreted as a good thing, depending on the context. Is there any middle ground, here, as well? It would seem that there could be a way to be jealous (zealous) without obsession.

I suppose this balance between healthy and obsessive jealousy has something to do with trust… and, perhaps, not putting one’s every hope, whim, and concern into a loved one. Still, I wish I knew how to find that jealous balance…

1. Skip Moen, “Till Death Do Us Part”, Hebrew Word Study, October 12th, 2012.