The Jealous Male

A common element in many troubled male/female relationships is the jealous male. A male who attempts to dominate a relationship, playing what Fromm called the sadistic role, shows exaggerated jealousy in protecting his "property." White (1981) notes that extreme jealousy in love correlates with low self-esteem, overdependence on the partner, low educational background, and unhappiness.

What are typical characteristics of a jealous male? What is the double standard?

White found that jealous males typically believe in the double standard. They believe it is acceptable for males to cheat on their girlfriends and, later, on their wives. But women must remain faithful.

So the jealous male cheats, and that probably explains why he is jealous. This is a classic example of the Freudian defense mechanism called projection. Projection occurs when a person sees his or her own unpleasant qualities in someone else. The jealous male accuses his girlfriend of flirting with other men or giving them subtle "come ons" if she looks in their direction. In reality, such suspicions reveal the male's guilt and his assumption that his girlfriend's mind works the same way his does.

Luckily, humans can think about their behavior and change it if they really want to. One student claimed that simply pointing out the "guilt projection" pattern to her boyfriend made a difference.

When is projection revealing?

One night my boyfriend and I got into a major argument over a guy that he thought I was flirting with. I remembered the chapter on love and explained to him that he might be feeling guilty about something he had done, and that he was taking it out on me. I think it really got to him because he apologized for 3 days and he now thinks twice before getting angry with me for no reason. [Author's files]


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Copyright © 2007 Russ Dewey