Tales from the Dark Side: An Analysis of Jealousy in Intimate Relationships

by Samantha Turnquist
Communication Studies
Faculty advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Lamoureux

In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello Iago tries to warn Othello of the dangers of jealousy—“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss, who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger: But O, what damned minutes tells he o’er who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!” (3.3.169) In intimate dating relationships, suspicions may occur. Scholarship surrounding the “dark side of communication” helps us explore deception in relational development. Spitzberg and Cupach (1994) help highlight the importance of knowing how to effectively communicate when faced with interactions that are not always pleasant. Compiled thoughts of suspicion and emotions such as anger may lead to actions of the jealous party. Understanding why a person lets jealousy control their thoughts, emotions, and actions is the question being asked. The following theories will provide insight into why jealous parties within a romantic relationship act the way they do: Thibaut & Kelly’s Social Exchange Theory will analyze the costs and benefits to parties who choose to stay in a jealous relationship; O’Keefe’s Message Design Logic will help explain the intention and success or failure of the messages; and Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory will help explain how people try to reduce dissonance both before they choose to deceive and/or when they believe they have been deceived.