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26 December 2008, 7:09 pm 2 Comments

Uncategorized: Hey, Jealousy

TNG is taking a much needed break from Dec 19-Jan 4. TNG will return with new content on Jan 5. Until then, please enjoy this post from the past year. Original publish date: 3/10/2008.

First, the good news: there were so many homos at Mousetrap on Saturday that it almost felt like a gay bar, if gay bars were fun and played good music. Maybe it was the brief burst of warm weather or some city-wide excitement over TNG Ben’s birthday, but I have never seen that many gay people at the Black Cat before. Once again, readers, thanks for affirming that events of gay interest exist outside of 17th street. Let’s keep it up.

But the bad news— I couldn’t really enjoy myself. All my friends were there, the music was great (I was particularly excited about Oliver’s Army) and I had enough gin in my system to pee juniper. So what was the problem?

Well, a couple guys my boyfriend had messed around with happened to be there. Worse things have happened, right?


My boyfriend is older than me, has lived in DC much longer than me and is extremely attractive. As such, it is to be expected that he’ll have a notch or two on his bedpost. Additionally, he’s one of the rare guys that actually maintains relationships with his exes instead avoiding their eye contact when he sees them out. And its natural that men who meet through a certain scene will continue to run in the same circles. But none of this made me feel better. Instead, I was starting to feel like I was on candid camera. I admittedly am a jealous person, so having so many reminders of my boyfriend’s past in one place seemed almost like a deliberate provocation.

Jealousy is a much more complicated emotion than it is usually given credit for. Far from the kneejerk, “get your hands off my girl” moments that most people associate it with, jealousy has a number of different faces and causes. Part of my consternation on Saturday did have to do with the childish anger that other men had played with my toys, but only part.

My real world (post-college) sex and dating experience is fairly limited, and the person I’m usually most jealous of is my boyfriend himself. Each one of his exes represents an experience, positive or otherwise, that he has had and I have not. Taken as a sum, they are flesh and blood emblems of a whole life he’s had without me and the fact that there will always be parts of him that I will never know. Its like seeing photos from party I wasn’t invited to, or paying dues for a club I couldn’t join.

And thats what makes me so irrational. My competitive side kicks in, making me wish that I had my own bevy of cute former flings to point out as a defense (“There’s one of yours and one of mine. We’re even.”) And I hate when I find myself being rude to these boys for no other reason than the fact that they’ve seen my BF naked. (Though one cheerfully clueless young man has earned a permanent spot on my blacklist for making a big deal, in front of me, about wearing a shirt he borrowed from my boyfriend on a not-so-long-ago morning after.)

I like to console myself with the knowledge that I wouldn’t get so upset if I didn’t care about my boyfriend so much, but isn’t that just another version of “I hit her because I love her?” If anyone has any tips on how to handle this, I would love to hear them. This shouldn’t matter to me, and its all in the past, but I’m sick of getting myself into bad moods about something that is entirely out of my hands.

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  • scantron said:

    hey zack. i find myself in similar situations as well. jealousy is a hard thing. i guess my problem is more that i hate when people hit on my gf, which is silly because i know she would never cheat on me. but i just hate the idea that someone would think that shes not loyal enough not to. does that make sense? i dont know. maybe we should talk about this over email.

  • kuhnsy said:

    In my life I feel like I’ve had more of a problem with envy than with jealousy (but truth be told I don’t have a full grasp on what the difference between them is). Luckily, the way you experience your jealousy seems to be similar to the way I experience my envy.

    My problem has always been that I want to be THE BEST. At everything. Oxymorons be damned, I want to be the most experienced and the most naive while being both the most popular jock and the most jaded hipster-outsider. And so when someone is better than me, or has more experience than me, or can do something I can’t I get ANGRY. My emotions run something along the lines of, “I want what they have and OBVIOUSLY they cheated to get it.”

    But I have a solution (that works for me)! And that is to take a step back, maybe count to ten to clear my head, and then to remind myself of what I have, what opportunities my life has allowed me, how I value every decision I’ve made, and maybe how I can totally explore whatever I’m envious about in future (though for a pocket gay like me, some things will always be out of reach). Once I’ve assured myself of my own positive qualities/major accomplishments, I can imagine someone being jealous or envious of me, so I turn my attention to selflessly basking in the other person, thereby making me the better person. If my boyfriend has been around the block, I acknowledge that through him I get to meet many interesting and sexy boys, all of whom wish that they were me. Instantaneously I’ve made all his past relationships a boone or resource for myself, and I get an emotional boost from projecting some self-created schadenfraude on the world. The perfect recipe!

    Hope that helps!