When it comes to relationships, having that sense of trust in your SO is a good indicator that you're in a healthy partnership. But it seems that a little jealousy isn't all that bad in certain types of relationships—particularly in friendships.
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that feelings of jealousy can actually be helpful in friendships, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
While there are many threats to maintaining our friendships (like long distance, for example), the study found that the kind of threat that elicits feelings of jealousy is when there is the presence of a "third party" that could potentially take our place in the relationship. "What makes us most jealous of is the possibility that we might be replaced," author Douglas Kenrick said.
When you feel intimidated by another presence in the friendship, you'll naturally resort to different modes of action to preserve your spot as ~the~ friend. It could drive you to respond in an unhealthy manner, like gatekeeping your friend. The study posits, however, that there are also modes of action that promote a better bond with our friends.
This feeling of jealousy can also lead us to become a "better friend" and actually help us pay more attention to our relationship with them. When we start to feel that our place in the friendship is in danger, we feel the urge to step up our game and try to put in more effort to make sure that our friends feel supported, heard, or comforted by our presence. It makes us assess whether we're actually being a good friend to them and drives us to improve the way we interact with them moving forward.
"This signal can help us jump into action to invest in a friendship that we might have been neglecting," Athena Aktipis, another author of the study, explains. The key lies in recognizing this negative emotion, getting to the root of it and realizing why we feel that way, and following it up with a more proactive approach.
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