When it comes to boys versus girls in the World Series of love, we’re told time and time again that women are the more jealous types. Women are more likely to show jealousy, research shows. There’s also a pervasive stereotype that women try to spark jealousy in men by pitting them against one another, telling you all about Chad or Brad on a date to get a rise out of you. In the pickup/MRA/red pill world, this tactic is a kind of “shit test” — an obstacle to outmaneuver with logic and reason so you can get her clothes off faster.
The truth? This isn’t a girl thing. In the real world, men “shit-test” too.
Recently, a friend of mine and I realized we’d both had the kinds of boyfriends who went out of their way to make us jealous, and in the worst way: by letting us know when other women hit on them or were checking them out. We had story after story of men telling us about talking up some stunning women who’d chatted them up with clear sexual interest. Another women was eyeballing them all night! Sometimes they just bring up their past exploits with women who totally wanted them. It was totally transparent. But the lack of subtlety did not make it any less bewildering.
I looked around online and found that countless women have asked the same question: “Why does my boyfriend love to make me jealous?” The anecdotes vary, but the gist of it is the same: Dudes drop stories of women being all up on their balls to make their partners feel bad, presumably so she’ll double down to prove how true her love really is.
Here, a woman recounts the way her boyfriend “flirts with other women when I’m not around and he will intentionally say things like, ‘Yea, these girls I talked to at work…’ or ‘The lady across the street came over and gave my son ice cream.’” One time, she says, the boyfriend went out of his way to park next to a woman at the beach who was standing around in a thong so he could just leer at her, seemingly trying to get a reaction. This woman says her boyfriend constantly tells her how “girls check him out and hit on him. Why?”
Here, a woman wonders why her boyfriend loves to tell her how many girls hit on him. Here, a woman wonders why her boyfriend constantly tells her about a “sultry” woman in one of his classes, and how he fantasizes about other women. Here, a woman wonders why her boyfriend constantly regales her with stories about other women’s attractiveness and his past relationships with other women. This guy always tells his girlfriend how he could totally fuck other people and stuff, but he doesn’t on account of how much he loves her. Lucky girl!
It’s unfathomable to me that this would have to be said, but apparently so: This is insanely weird, stunted behavior that is only done by insecure, immature dudes who don’t really know how to be in a relationship. It does not make men hotter, it makes them annoying. Worst of all is that when men do this, and women react with the very jealousy the men want them to feel, they will often accuse the woman of being insecure. It’s a neat deflection: If a woman objects to men making them jealous of his insecurity, it’s her confidence that needs a boost.
There’s no debating that it’s an insecure man’s move. Hell, even cheesy dude-bro sites explain it this way. There are more nuanced explanations for why men do it, but those reasons still fall under one of three terrible categories: because they’re insecure (which sucks), want to push your buttons (which sucks), or are actually oblivious to how it comes off (again, which sucks). In other words, there’s no actually good reason for provoking jealousy. Especially if your partner tells you she hates it when you do it, and you keep doing it anyway? You’re horrible.
Women’s Health rounded up stories from guys admitting to all the dickish things they did involving other women to make the women who love them jealous, and even those guys admit to knowing what they did sucks.
When people try to make you jealous, rather than make you genuinely want them more, it makes them look insecure and awful and pushes you away. It makes it harder to trust them, because it’s hard to understand why anyone who cares about you would actually want you to doubt your commitment. Because the stories are always missing true reassurance, there’s no doubt that they’re told for malevolent purposes.
What it also signals is that you think you actually have to manufacture situations that will inspire or motivate your partner to show their love or commitment. That’s weird and unnecessary! It’s not being jealous that’s bad, it’s the way the jealousy comes about and how it’s dealt with. When we think our partners might be tempted by someone else, we usually try to pull them back in. Psychologists explain that when we’re in love with people, we naturally want to guard our mates from being poached. So if we see our partner speaking to someone else we perceive as a threat, we’d be motivated to give our partner more attention and energy because we’d be aware of their value whenever we’re reminded that we could lose it. No one has to invent a situation to do this; by simply being out in the world, it can happen. Jealousy itself is not the problem. But manipulating your partner to feel it certainly is.
It’s one thing to actually tell each other what happens in your life when you’re away from each other, and it doesn’t mean that a couple couldn’t share that someone actually asked them out not realizing they were taken. It’s how it’s done that makes all the difference. If you’re actually letting your partner know how loyal you are and that you’d never stray, it’s one thing. But the complaint here is not that; it’s when men clearly go out of their way to make you think they’re wanted all day long when you’re not there, and it comes with no reassurance that they’re all yours.
When that happens, men need to accept that they’ve rolled the dice: Either the person will redouble their efforts to win you back a little, or they will actually feel too hurt to invest any further in the relationship. (Or potentially both: In the short term it will work, and in the long-term, it will still erode the relationship.) That’s a pretty big gamble to get your mate’s attention when you could’ve just as easily said you wanted to reconnect or spend some one-on-one time together. Or if you’re feeling a little lonely, that’s okay too — just use your words, even if you risk seeming vulnerable.
There’s a saying that a real man doesn’t make his woman jealous of other women; he makes other women jealous of his woman.
I don’t think it’s an indication of “real” masculinity. I think it’s an indication of being a good, loving partner and a decent person, and no matter who does it, anyone who thinks the fastest way to rekindle a romance is to triangulate your partner’s security against another person is not a good bet.