Health

Hey Jealousy

A funny thing happened on the road to growing older. I finally met the green-eyed monster.

Photograph by Getty Images

I’ve never been the jealous type. I figure if a guy wants to be with me, he’s with me. If he’s going to sneak around, there’s not much I can do about it unless I care to make a damn fool of myself.

You know what I mean. I could grab a hat, pop on a pair of shades, slip into a trench coat and skulk around. Or I could restrict my spying to peeking through blinds and peering around corners, which is all very sitcom and terribly tacky. I don’t do tacky. Like I don’t do jealousy.

Besides, we don’t need anything so theatrical or low-tech. These days, we can let our fingers do the walking instead, courtesy of our cells and the Internet. Thanks to Google, Twitter and smartphones, there’s no such thing as a private moment.

Then again, digital footprints can be a girl’s best friend. They’re easier to follow than high fiber bread crumbs. And with all we can uncover in just a matter of minutes, you’d think we’d all be jealous — and a little bit paranoid.

But like I said, that’s not my style. It would never occur to me to stalk someone online, much less wait until they’re sleeping to check emails or texts. I’m a believer in boundaries and respect, which lands me squarely back in my opening position: If a guy wants to cheat, there’s not much I can do to stop him.

You may tell me that I’m too clinical and jealousy isn’t a matter of choice. It’s a bubbling, burning, bilious creature that drives us to drink — and a hell of a lot more. So let’s get down to why people are distrustful. I can think of a few reasons, can’t you? They’re insecure about appearance or self-worth. They doubt the feelings or word of their partner. And maybe experience has taught them to be wary.

Now that I think about it, I’m at a loss for why I wasn’t jealous when I was younger. I was as insecure as the next woman — obsessing over weight and wishing for a different body type — and I survived my share of heartbreaks when I was dumped and replaced by someone else.

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I look back and see that I was trusting to a fault. Besides, I possessed the irrepressible sense that only youth can muster — the impression that I had all the time in the world still ahead. If something went awry, there was always “the future.”

So a funny thing happened on the way to growing older … I finally met the green-eyed monster for myself.

The man in my life? He’s heavenly. And though I don’t let on, I’ve become acquainted with jealousy. I’m recalling our honeymoon phase — conversations were endless, sex was amazing, we couldn’t get enough of each other and we were dancing around those three little words. That was right around the time when his old girlfriend got wind of our relationship. She started to call him. She began sending emails. She wanted him back — when she thought another woman had him.

Talk about tacky! We were three months young as a couple, but they had 18 months of history. I was worried. I knew he once loved her. So I ran my own side-by-side comparison and it didn’t look promising. She was statuesque (I’m pretty puny); she had scads of free time (I’m always working); her children were grown and gone (mine were still underfoot).

And while I came up short in some categories — literally — I also did well in others, as the list went on. But it was painful to find myself engaged in any such silly activity. My temporary tussle with insecurity made one thing clear — I was crazy about the guy.

Fortunately, not only did he tell me about the ex trying to rekindle their relationship, but he told her — in no uncertain terms — that he was with me and they were over. While I have no reason to be jealous, perhaps I need to take a different view. That I feel a jolt of jealousy is a reminder to cherish a very good man. It’s also a compliment to him — in all his maturing splendor.

So am I the jealous type after all? I’m not so blind as to believe that any man — or woman — can’t be tempted to stray under the right set of circumstances. I’m also aware of what I have to offer, even as a woman "of a certain age.” But with the years accumulating, I feel less marketable. No less worthy and not yet invisible — but I can’t deny a growing sense of vulnerability as I face the fact that chances are not infinite and fewer years lie ahead than behind.

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