Hell hath no fury like Els Cottemans scorned. The 26-year-old Belgian was so insanely jealous she cut all the straps in a parachute pack then watched her love rival leap from a plane and plummet to her death. It didn't bag her the man she loved, surprisingly enough, it bagged her 30 years behind bars.
Even when it doesn't lead to murder (and surprisingly frequently it does, it's cited as the third most common motive for bumping someone off), jealousy is a very unattractive thing, isn't it? Little girls are meant to be made of sugar and spice and all things nice so perhaps that's why none of us like to admit to our inner green-eyed monster. But, try as we might, when that all consuming bubble of rage and panic pops, it's very hard to keep a lid on it.
Thankfully, we're not all insane, murderous lunatics like Cottemans, but almost everyone does experience jealousy. Teenage me was desperately in love with an older man. My heart would pound in my chest, adrenaline would rush through me like electricity, my breath would quicken - not when HE walked into the room, but when SHE did (that big-bosomed, clear-skinned, VW Beetle-driving, bloody blonde trollop). I really was very rude to his girlfriend. Teenage me is still not sorry, she ruined my teenage life.
Science is quite fascinated with this common, ugly thing. Numerous studies have tried to determine whether it's an innate and unavoidable human emotion that crosses cultures, or more a product of social conventions and expectations. Most, unhelpfully, have concluded it's a bit of both. For us girls, it might even be down to so many of us taking the contraceptive pill if a recent study is to be believed. That's right, blame the hormones for everything!
Well, I'm no scientist, but it mostly seems a clear cut case of competition. Women are territorial - probably even more so than men - and it's a cat-eat-cat world out there, one designed to make us feel insecure so we spend £££ on beauty products. Insecurity is self esteem's cyanide, and not just for women. Short men, who statistically don't do as well when it comes to attracting the ladies, are much more likely to feel jealous and possessive.
So, do jealous women have any hope of growing out of it?
We know jealousy can be destructive both to ourselves and our relationships, but even experts say it's almost impossible to stop our jealous feelings. We can however work on changing those things that make us feel insecure, and the rest will follow. Despite the fact that I will never, ever forgive the VW-driving trollop, I'm not as much of a monster these days. Proof? One of my Man's closest friends is a beautiful, funny, clever (and blonde!) woman - they have loads in common and laugh like drains together. My teenage self would be crazed with jealousy, but actually she's one of the coolest people I know (I am only mildly envious I wasn't friends with her first.)
So what changed? Well, I'm not immune to it, of course, and I still have my moments. Perhaps if I thought the beautiful friend had designs on Man the claws would come out (even if we trust our men implicitly, we don't like that do we?). Generally, as long as there's honesty and openness I don't worry if he's going out with "the hot chicks" from work, as he so sweetly refers to his esteemed colleagues.
Ironically enough, with more wrinkles, more grey hair and a considerably more saggy bottom, these days I'm just more comfortable in my own skin. And a big thank goodness for that. It's not easy being green.
By: Pip Jones
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