attraction, commitment, & jealousy

Hope Johnson wrote:

Commitment to monogamous relationship isn’t meant to be about time – it’s only meant to last as long as both partners value this form of relating with one another.

If there’s a “cheater” in the relationship, no problem. The one who still values commitment, can simply refuse to carry on sexually with the one who doesn’t.

JR adds:

Organisms may have the capacity for sexual activity, as well as for the emotion of jealousy and rage and guilt and resentment and so on. Much that is called “commitment” is based on a concern for social acceptance (anxiety).

Whenever anxiety is the source of a commitment, then the subsiding of that anxiety might tend to reduce or dissolve the “commitment.” So, co-dependency is when two partners come together to maintain a mutual state of anxiety and call it “mutual commitment.”

Completely distinct from all of that is attraction and love. When attraction is strong enough, then commitment may be simply not an issue to the couple (unless raised by interested parties such as parents and grandparents etc). People who are strongly attracted may take actions without being driven by anxiety or guilt, and then the actions have consequences and people experience the consequences, sometimes making “adaptive” commitments (like if a pregnancy results).


I was telling a story today of a situation in 2009 when an ex of mine (who I had not been with for years) got upset when a friend of hers started a relationship with me. Only today, I learned something new about how that was an issue for her- just as I was talking to an interested and neutral listener.

When my ex observed a person (that she considered intelligent) to be interested in me, that triggered my ex. Soon, at no surprise to me, (but quite a surprise who only knew of my ex’s repulsion toward me) my ex pursued me romantically.

Why was she so upset by her friend’s interest in me? Because for some people, attraction can be very powerful and even disorienting or disturbing (like in the case of stalkers and so forth- who can experience intense emotional disturbances relating to attraction).

If my ex did not want to experience attraction to me, then even a male friend of hers speaking about me without condemnation might have upset her. The mere mention of a name can spark intense conflicts of emotion- with the compensatory repulsion (and anxiety/ panic) being proportional to the attraction.

Because my ex still “had strong feelings” (attraction) toward me, she voiced intense repulsion toward me (frustration, resentment, animosity, etc). Further, with her strong feelings buried under a perhaps shallow layer of tension, as soon as a friend of hers got involved with me, that really felt like a threat to her- even though my ex and I had not been in a relationship with each other for years.

I understand that interpretation of the behaviors of my ex and think “wow, that was really intense for her. She was attracted but also terrified!”

Her patterns of action- which seemed rather contradictory and perplexing at times- fit perfectly with the actual conflicted emotions that she was experiencing. As her emotions shifted, so did her behaviors.

Life makes sense. Humans may or may not perceive accurately the various elements of the order of life. However little or much I perceive accurately, life still has made sense all along and will continue to do so.


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