Apparently, research by scientists from Cornell University, New York (published in PLoS ONE, the Public Library of Science’s online journal) found that dinner with an ex will make your lover most jealous.
Jealousy is one of the most fundamental and destructive of human emotions and so it provides an excellent foundation upon which fiction writers can build a story. It takes so many forms, ranging from envy of others’ success to dealing with a loved one’s betrayal. Toddlers often display signs of it even before they can talk properly and it can turn otherwise peace-loving folk into monsters that perform the most despicable and spiteful things ranging from deliberate sabotage to murder. It can crop up between lovers, siblings, friends, work colleagues, families, neighbours and even whole nations and can lead to feuds and wars that span generations.
In one of my stories, I describe a wife’s lover emerging from the shower room ‘clutching the towel to stop it riding down over his paunch, his bald patch clearly visible through his wet hair’. “UCH!” said one of my friends, before asking: “Why don’t you describe the lover in more flattering terms to make the husband even more jealous?”
But let’s think about this from the husband’s viewpoint: which would make him feel worse? His partner going off with someone fit, attractive and half his age? Or with someone older and uglier? I know that if the person I love ran off with Michael Bublé, I’d be hurting badly, but I could ultimately (and sadly for me!) make a list of all the things he’s got that I haven’t (looks, money, talent) and console myself with the belief that I never really stood a chance. (Come on girls, be honest, which of us would you pick out of a line?) On the other hand, if she left me for some toad up the road, you could add to my hurt feelings: anger, incredulity and a need to know what the toad has that I don’t! I’m going to stop now because it’s damaging my self-esteem but I hope you get my drift. Remember, the more you make your characters suffer the more they will reveal about their true selves.
You can read more about the scientists’ research by following the link below. Better still, why not sit down and start writing a story about jealousy?