Police today stepped up the search for Raoul Moat, the bodybuilder from Newcastle, suspected of shooting and wounding his ex-girlfriend and killing her new partner last Saturday. It’s the latest in a string of reports of jealous, unrequited lovers attacking ex-partners.
Last year, Paul Bristol stabbed his ex-lover to death after a photo of her with her new boyfriend emerged on Facebook. The year before, Katie Piper had her modelling career cut short when her shunned boyfriend hired a man to throw acid in her face.
Jealousy is a powerful emotion. Research shows it hijacks the memory system, attention span and even vision. But why do we hear fewer reports of ex-girlfriends making frenzied attacks on former partners? Are women less jealous? Or are men simply more likely to embrace their inner Othello and act aggressively when jealous?
In his book ‘The Murderer Next Door: Why The Mind Is Designed To Kill’, evolutionary psychologist Dr David Buss says mating motives lie behind most murders. He found one of the main triggers for women being murdered was their husband or partner discovering they were having an extramarital affair, particularly when the woman was dramatically younger than her husband/partner.
In the days before paternity testing, says Buss, a man had to rely on the fidelity of his partner to guarantee the paternity of her children. And if a man’s partner left him, he lost access to her future reproductive value. Due to the evolutionary lag, these primal emotions still exist in men.
HOW TO OVERCOME JEALOUSY
In our July issue, couples therapist Andrew G Marshall, whose Heal And Move On workshop takes place on 18 September in London, gave advice on how to deal with jealousy:
• Trace the jealousy
Feelings of jealousy can often be traced back to past experiences, identifying the source can provide release.
• Test your concerns
Present your concerns neutrally to your friends, and see if they agree. This allows you to test the legitimacy of your concerns.
• Ask questions
Turn statements such as ‘I’m never going to get over this’ into a question, ‘How am I going to get over this?’