Philosopher leads student discussion on romantic jealousy

Anne Preller

When Anne Pylkas closed her eyes she pictured her boyfriend of six months.

“I was just mad,” said Anne Pylkas, a nutritional science major. Pylkas said she shouldn’t be jealous but “I’m not there yet.”

In the basement of Grace Lutheran Church, the University Unitarian Universalists used thought experiment to begin their discussion on romantic jealously.

“Romantic jealousy arises because of three factors,” said James Park, existential philosopher and former University Unitarian Universalist staff member, who led the discussion.

“Comparison, competition and the fear of being replaced,” Park said.

“My thesis is that jealously is a cultural invention and that we can transcend it,” Park said. “If it can be learned, it can be unlearned.”

Neal Hines might be closer to the transcendence of jealousy than Pylkas.

“Hopefully there is contentment with the thought that you can’t change other people,” Hines said of his thought experiment. “At different times we’re ready for different things.”

Hines, currently working on his doctorate at the University, said his honesty within relationships would decrease the amount of times he would pull away from intimacy in the future.

“It’s important to be honest with yourself and others,” Hines said.

But Pylkas said the fear of being replaced is huge for her right now.

“Love comes to an end in a hundred different ways,” Park said. “But with jealousy, there is a rival situation where it is not just a loss of love but a situation of replacment.”

In the search for an answer to romantic jealousy, Park reminded the group that different people have different things to offer.

Then Park said, “How do we become unique and irreplaceable?”

“You can’t guess what other people want,” Pylkas said.

Park said while the dynamic to compete is a large factor in today’s dating market, a lot of pressure comes from society and “you feel like you can’t be a whole person by yourself.”

Pylkas said she holds her parents up as people who are beyond jealousy.

“Part of the process may be maturing and becoming more comfortable with yourself,” Pylkas said.

But in the end, “you just have to be yourself,” Hines said.

Anne Preller welcomes comments at [email protected]