Part 1: Girls
Jealousy is a weird emotion. I suffer from it just like anyone else, but I think it has to be one of the most unattractive emotions in a person. My ex-boyfriend used to rave about other women and flirt with them in front of me. When I expressed just a tad bit of dissatisfaction about this behavior, he accused me of being “overly jealous.” Because I had my love goggles on, I couldn’t see clearly enough to realize he was turning his own snake-like behavior back on me. I made great efforts to deal with my “out of control jealousy”, including reading quite a bit about the topic.
Jealousy is like all human emotions — it’s natural and exists for a biological reason (or so scientists say). The theory goes that jealousy exists because the evolutionary goal of our species is to perpetuate the best and most desirable traits in order to ensure survival. Now, any alpha male worth his weight in good genes should not tolerate his woman catting around on him; why, she may be introducing some inferior genes into the litter! So, men should have low tolerance for sexual infidelity.
From a purely biological perspective, women are the breeders/nurturers/caregivers. Their biological goal is to find a top-of-the-line dude and create a little nest with him in order to bring up top-of-the-line, high-quality babies. The man needs to stick around to help raise the kids and be a good provider (disclaimer here: I don’t want a bunch of hate mail…this is purely a theory put forth by biologists…), therefore women tend to get more jealous about emotional infidelity, rather than sexual infidelity, because that type of infidelity is more likely to result in the man fleeing the nest.
Take this theory or leave it, but to me, it sort of makes sense. So I can understand jealousy in traditional hetero romantic relationships. What I have a harder time understanding, though, is jealousy between friends, especially between two women. From an early age, I experienced the competitive, catty behavior of females. I was one of a trio of good friends growing up, and we probably spent most of our time fighting over each other. If you read the diary I wrote when I was 10, that’s about all I talked about (except for grousing about how to get out of my dreaded piano lessons).
Here’s a sample: “I’m mad. I got a new Planet of the Apes mask and machine gun and I really wanted to play Planet of the Apes with Jenny. But she’s playing Donnie and Marie with Laura and they say I can’t play with them. Why can’t they play Charlies Angels so I can play too? Life is so unfair.” (Keep in mind, my references are 70s era because…I’M ANCIENT).
Inevitably I’d hole myself up in my room and bury myself in a Judy Blume novel to kill the pain. You’d think that girls would shed that silly, petty, possessive, competitive behavior as they grow up. Think again. The pattern repeated itself for me in high school. I was friends with 2 girls, Tammy and Angie. They were both as cute as could be, but Tammy was particularly beautiful. I always thought she looked like a model. And the boys went nuts for her.
I was just coming out of my shell at that time. I had always been a “4-eyed brace face” pariah, but finally in my senior year I got contact lenses and, of course, no braces-my teeth were perfect. But I couldn’t compete with Tammy.
Angie and I were a little wild. We liked to dress punk and new wave, while Tammy wore the neon sweaters and more conservative Benetton branded clothes popular at that time. One night we were headed to a punk party, and Tammy decided she wanted to be a little more adventurous — maybe dress a little more Madonna-ish. Angie and I could not have this. Heaven forbid Tammy should upstage us. If we dressed her punk, with her looks, she’d be stealing all the Kajagoogoo boys and Robert Smiths at the party. We couldn’t have that. So we told her we’d help her out, but behind her back we hatched a devious plan that I still feel guilty about to this day, 30 years later.
We picked out the most unflattering, mismatched clothes we could find and dressed poor Tammy like a clown. We took one of her pricey sweaters and ripped it to hell, layering it over a ratty old t-shirt…on the bottom, we stuck her in a Stevie Nicks, long, flowing hippie skirt. We added tons of black plastic bangles all up and down her arms. Then we spray painted her hair green. Poor Tammy. She looked like a punk-rock bag lady.
To her credit, she was pretty dubious about the outfit we put her in. “Are you sure I look okay?” she said as she looked at herself in the mirror.
“Oh yeah! You look great!” We raved exhuberantly to her while snickering and winking at each other behind her back. Isn’t that horrible? If I were Catholic I’d say a thousand hail Marys to repent for that one.
Our payback came when we ended up holding up the corner, looking like unpopular wallflowers, while Tammy still managed to attract the hottest, most sculpted surfer boy at the party. Even dressed like a Jabba the Hut creature, Tammy still dazzled.
That experience taught me a few things, though. 1) I couldn’t trust Angie or Tammy to tell me whether I looked good, and 2) guys make better friends than girls.