Ah, my husband. This was one of the many responses I got when looking at jealousy on the internet.
I’m not a jealous person – I don’t think I’ve ever felt that emotion in my life. I’ve certainly never been a possessive person either. But just in the last couple of days, the subject of jealousy has fascinated me. In particular, jealousy in a relationship – not jealousy outside of a relationship. So I had to find someone else who feels jealousy, and see what they think about it. Someone who wants jealousy, and thinks it’s a good idea. The first thing I did was look on the net for input on what other people thought, just generally of possessiveness and jealousy – because that’s how I roll.
I found this woman, who was lamenting that her husband didn’t constantly love on her, kiss her, tell her all the time how valuable she was in a two hour period. That he didn’t take her hand and lead her to the couch, that he didn’t talk about how he’d have to fight men off with a stick if they got a glimpse of her. She wanted her husband to act like that, and lamented the tale of woe that her best friend’s husband was like that, but hers was sadly lacking. She craved possessiveness and jealousy, and to feel like her husband would fight to the death to keep her, that he didn’t spend time doing such things.
All I could think while reading this was “Jesus Christ. Twenty fours hours of that, and I would shoot my husband in the face.”
So I called Mr. Peppermintyrose over to gawk at said posting – as I always do with clusterfuckery on the internet, to see what he thought. The title was the most memorable thing he’s said in the last couple of days (the man is profound on a semi-regular basis) and pointed out that it would be easy to fulfil her requirements, if her husband would but piss on her before she left the house to mark his territory. He also wondered if the “best friend’s husband” had ever challenged anyone to a duel. 😀
I’m not sure if jealousy is a real thing, or if it’s a manufactured response – something that we learn in behaviour from other humans and thereby reproduce in ourselves.
I think at times people travel the well worn ruts of the green eyed monster without thinking about what they’re doing. But then I’m not sure if I am the freak and far too much like a Klingon for my own good.
I have had one experience of jealousy, and that’s what formed my opinion. When I was fourteen, I had an older boyfriend – seventeen, blonde, lovely. Nowadays I would wonder why he was dating a fourteen year old, but back then I thought he was lovely. Then he slept with my best friend. Well, that exploded in a shower of teen angst and drama.
But, there was this moment, I can remember vividly, and it was a moment of epiphany. We’d been fighting over him for days, and I turned around (while storming off) to say something horrible to her. In that moment, he fucked it. I turned around to see a look of satisfaction and outright naked glee on his face. Two “women” fighting over him, ruining a friendship, and he took it as a vote for him. He got a belt out of the drama that he’d created.
I didn’t end up saying the horrible thing, and gave it some thought. It occurred to me, that at the end of this fight, presuming I won, I would win a guy who cheated on his girlfriend – that would be the “grand prize” for winning. That didn’t seem such a prize to me. I don’t know why I would put myself through all this angst and drama for a guy I wouldn’t want to keep. When I looked further in my introspection, I didn’t really care that he’d slept with her – other than the fact that he’d betrayed me and she’d betrayed me. Perhaps a more traumatic break up than was necessary, but a break up nonetheless. If it didn’t work out, it’s not like calling off our impending marriage was the next step.
I promptly stopped trying to win such a “prize” and said to them both that they could have each other – the equivalent of an emotional shrug. Ironically (and just for anecdote closure) he then stopped pursuing my friend and came after me with unswervingly alacrity. I still wasn’t interested – he was no prize I wanted to win – but it struck me that the point to the whole exercise was to hurt me so that he would feel wanted – an innately selfish act. My friend, who sort of drifted away after that, was really only interested in “besting” me – and I’d fucked her plan with the whole emotional shrug, because she hadn’t “won” – I’d conceded, which is not nearly as satisfying.
From that moment on, I’ve never felt any part of jealousy and possessiveness, and I’m sure that I didn’t feel it then. I thought I should, so I acted appropriately. When one’s boyfriend cheats on you, you’re supposed to “fight for your man”. But that’s a bunch of crap, and I think that experience, and my epiphany gave me the truth.
It has resulted in hilarity too. I had this boyfriend at twenty, who was a great guy in many respects, but didn’t freaking call for like six weeks. In the very prompt love ’em and leave ’em stage of my youth, I dumped him. Without any warning to straighten up – it was just over and I’d had enough. He tried to pay me money to date him again – but it didn’t work, he’d done his dash.
After that, he used to call me – the man was a slow emotional learner to start calling me regularly after we broke up – and talk to me about the problems he had with women. His real name was rare and I loved it to death, but he used Ed – which I’m happy to use, as he doesn’t go by that name in his professional life. He would call me up and ask me if a girl liked him, and what he should do. I would tell Ed what he had to do – even once saying “Fucking hell Ed! If she likes you, you have to make a move. You’re going to be alone forever.” Since I had been the one to pursue him and flirt with him, I figured that he was just generally hopeless, and since I was over him that didn’t mean that he needed to spend his life alone. I needed to help the poor little fellow on.
I was talking to a male friend of mine about Ed’s general hopelessness, and how for going on about a year, he’d been calling me, telling me of his girl troubles. I remarked that he was so freaking bad at this that I might have to set him up and seduce said chick into his bed for him to get anything done. I can still see the incredulous look on my friend’s face. He said “You fucking idiot. He’s trying to make you jealous.” It suddenly clicked into place, at how right he was – here I was thinking I was helping my rather hopeless ex-boyfriend and he was trying to get me back. So apparently both Ed and I are slow emotional learners. 😀
Since meeting my lovely husband, I’ve probably had what some women would think is more than enough cause to fly into jealous and possessive rages. But really, they are just – to me at least – anecdotes of the ringing endorsement Mr. Peppermintyrose has gotten from other women as a desirable husband.
I get most traction out of the one that happened way back when we were first together. I had this friend, and one day she came over to our place, and perchance happened to see my then-boyfriend in little more than water and a towel. I noticed that where before she blew him off and treated him with sort of family consideration, there was now a whole lot more interest in him, and an air of flirting and acquisition.
Like Ed before him, I pursued Mr. Minty. I remembered what it was like to flirt with him – he was freaking hopeless. Right up until the last moment, I swear, he didn’t think I seriously liked him. So when I saw my friend like that, I knew him well enough to say – “Look out. She saw you in that towel. She wants you.” in order to give him some warning, because God knows he wouldn’t see it coming himself. Mr. Minty summarily pooh poohed me – I was seeing things, reading things out of context. I pointed out the bits and pieces of behaviour change but he wouldn’t have it. So, foiled, I waited with stubborn patience for this to come to fruition. 😀
When I was about seven months pregnant with our first son, I was in the front seat of a car, and Mr. Minty in the back with the friend. Mr. Minty told me after – and how I laughed, gloated and felt vindicated – that friend had run her hand all the way up his thigh until her pinky finger was touching his junk and told him to call her if he needed anything, while giving the pinky finger a tiny flick. He finally got what she was putting down, and told me it with an air of apology and asking for forgiveness for doubting my assessment and pooh poohing me. Since that time, every single time I tell him that a woman was flirting with him, and he pooh poohs me (as he still does) I always win the argument with “You didn’t believe me until X put her hand on your junk”. That always causes him to back down, consider I might actually be right, blush and tell me it was his thigh with errant pinky. 😀
Now, I could have taken a shiv to that friend, but really, what would that have done? If Mr. Minty was so inclined to cheat, he would have done that. She wasn’t the last either – hence the value in having such a cautionary tale of “What happened the last time you didn’t listen to me about this”. I could staple Mr. Minty into his pants, or have him wear a chastity belt, but I am at heart a dreadfully lazy person, and there would be too much locking, unlocking and whining from both of us. He’s a desirable guy – I get it. I see why they want him. I want him too – I just happen to have him.
So why am I, of all people thinking about jealousy? Mainly because it seems to be something that crops up in fanfiction. I found myself curious as to the motivations of others, and whether or not I should be threatening to shiv those women, or desire Mr. Minty to piss on me before I leave the house. I can’t think I’m the only one with this Klingon knowledge, which over the years has condensed down to “The sort of man I want to keep is the one who will, ultimately, stay – of his own free will.”
I’ve read a couple of times that Sookie is an awful person (and with Sookie bashing around there are so many reasons why she sucks) to even think about going to Texas with Sam. That how would she like it if Eric spent time with other women that desired him? Of course, there’s the old chestnut that Bill should die because it upsets Eric that he’s alive, and wants his girlfriend and is an ex hanging around.
But all I can see is that that already happens. Eric works with his ex – he owns a bar with her. Said bar is prevaricated on the idea of Eric as a sexually saleable item. He sells pictures of his naked body to peeps. Unless Sookie wanted to shiv every fangbanger from Shreveport to New Orleans, she’s always got women who have either slept with Eric at some stage, or who desire Eric, or who have seen him naked. He spends his night at his job flirting with customers. He works with Pam, and has trusted her with far more up to now than he’s trusted Sookie.
Now, I know under the Saint Eric phenomenon, it would be pointed out that Eric didn’t love Pam, which means he’s a good guy and it’s not the same because it’s Eric and he can do no wrong. But he sure as shit felt strongly enough about her to kill her and tie her to him for the rest of eternity. It’s not love, but I wouldn’t say that there is nothing between them at all. Pam and Eric may not have had the exact same relationship as Bill and Sookie, but that doesn’t mean she’s not his ex. Hell – Eric could just compel Pam to keep her mouth shut about any cheating he did with her, and Sookie would be none the wiser, and Pam couldn’t resist. The bulk of the control of Eric’s relationship with Pam rests firmly with Eric on all fronts – not with Pam.
In the last book, Eric took off with a guy for a week without informing Sookie where he was going, or whether he’d be back…ever. While Eric may have not wanted to be turned, he admitted that he loved Appius. In the twisted refuse left over from his abuse during his turning and subsequent days, Eric feels for Appius even while he’s married to Sookie and didn’t have too many issues with the idea of sleeping with him again, other than his fidelity to Sookie being the main issue.
During the text of the last book, Eric never once took blood from Sookie either – so he has to be getting it somewhere else. I know under the Saint Eric phenomenon, he does it off page, sticks to True Blood or can go months on end without feeding, but I’ve never thought it was a good idea to mix the idea of “sole food source” with romantic interest. I also think that after being tortured and bitten, Eric might want to think a little before he rocks up to his girlfriend’s house and demands she serve herself up as dinner, unless he likes being a hideous jerk monster. He has a ready supply of willing donors – and if even Alan Ball can see that vampires can feed in public without needing to fuck, surely your average reader can see that too…..they’re not stupider than Alan Ball, are they?
I identify with Sookie because she’s concerned about keeping her dignity when she asks if Eric has been sleeping with Appius. She can’t staple Eric into his pants and ensure that he stays celibate while not with her. She can control her own environment, but even if she put the chastity belt on Eric, he’d rip it right off if he was so inclined. He either wants to stay with her or not, but she can’t force him in any way – better to know about what it is she’s getting into than trying to patrol his life, because threat to his fidelity from outside sources surely abound everywhere.
But that’s not the way it works in fanfiction. Fans impose their own value sets on characters, sometimes blatantly ignoring text and making up little fairytales about how shit works. It’s how we have the Saint Eric phenomenon, and how so many people were dissatisfied with DITF – their little lies did not prove to be right.
It seems that they want to co-opt Eric into their own jealous mindsets because he is the character they care about. He has shown over and over that he doesn’t tend towards jealousy when he knows he has Sookie – not once has he tried to starve Bill, when he could do so, or been all up in Sookie’s business about what she’s doing with Sam and Bill – or even Claude, who is now living in her house. He’s a little more possessive than Sookie is, but really, he’s dead in the day and can’t do jackshit.He didn’t fly into a jealous rage – but he clearly has problems with trusting and letting go – as would I if I lived in a society for nigh on a thousand years where I could only trust two people maximum.
But I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a jealous person – just that he is a little more jealous than Sookie is – which is at zero level – while Eric is someone who is perhaps feels the twinge of people wanting what he has. He hasn’t quite accepted that he can’t do anything about it, and if she so decided to screw Remy over his day closet, he could do nothing. Since she’s the first person he’s felt this way about in a couple of hundred years (enough to give her his blood) then one must assume that she’s a relatively rare phenomenon – a woman he wants, and he fears losing it. But that doesn’t make him a jealous person – not what I would define as jealous anyway, although I would prefer that he lost that attitude altogether.
It lead me to wondering what exactly underpins jealous beliefs too, in someone who has matured to the point that they can read these books – as in physically understand the text. After much consideration, I think that this is an indicator of a poor opinion of others, based on yourself. The jealous person thinks that all people are like them, and subscribes to the idea of “Any port in a storm”. That if given the chance, they would drop their drawers for virtually anyone who asked, and thus think that all of the rest of us are like that too.
It occurred to me that perhaps these people haven’t grown up enough to know that they cannot control what others do – or who they find attractive. They may be too immature to understand that fidelity is something from the person that is being true, not from the person who controls their sexuality. It is very much an internalised thing – not something imposed from the outside.
It also crossed my mind that maybe they have never been truly desired by anyone, which is terribly sad. Maybe in their world, they had to settle for what they could get, rather than what they actually want. I am perhaps, a rare and lucky creature that I got what I wanted. I didn’t have to settle for what I could get, and I don’t have to shiv people or piss on people because Mr. Minty got what he wants too without compromise.
Ultimately, these people do have holes in them, even if it’s not quite as poetic (or gross) as Mr. Minty would say. Whether that comes from a hole that they have in their confidence in themselves, or a hole in their own thinking, it’s still a gap of fundamental knowledge that would change their lives.
Thanks to my little look-see into the world of those who think jealousy is par for the course and a good thing, I see those holes now. When I think about where I’ve read about it in fanfiction, it now seems to me like a terrible hole that the characters have in themselves. It always results in a loss of face, and in Sookie in particular, it diminishes her character significantly. She is forced to make concessions, changing her entire life to try to “keep” Eric, and being nasty to the other women who went before her, despite the fact that they are no threat to her, and even if they were she’s fighting an exercise in futility. Of course, I see it in the rarer, opposite way, wherein Eric concedes his entire life to keep Sookie, and it diminishes his character too – makes him simplistic and boring.
It also reduces the story itself – bringing the plot lines in to just the immediate vicinity of the two of them because you couldn’t possibly include someone who is a threat to either of their fidelity. It means that the story is somewhat lesser than I am used to in the CH world because it doesn’t include Sam, Bill or Pam. Of all the things that’s surely going to come to annoy me about fanfiction, it’s gonna be jealousy. It’s what separates a great fic from a bearable fic – one that doesn’t have to limit its cast because of the insecurity of the author. Thank God for Charlaine Harris – fanfic, most often, makes me appreciate how well she does it.