Sometimes I wonder if more of the Latin culture has rubbed off on me than I'm even aware of. I recently had a conversation with a Canadian friend with whom I spent time with here in Mexico and she was telling me about an issue that she was addressing with her Canadian boyfriend back home (she's doing research in Panama). She said she was just "so upset" and "so angry" and didn't know what to do. Turns out a couple nights before her boyfriend had become very jealous and had just flipped out. She didn't go into details about his jealous, long-distance "outburst", but explained that he had already sent many emails, text messages, and phone messages expressing that he was sorry and felt like an idiot. She continued to go on about how ridiculous it was and how dare he react like that and that now she wasn’t even excited to be going home in a few days to see him and he had just ruined everything. My reaction? "So what?"

I didn't actually say this to her but my reaction got me thinking: Why was she so dramatically affected by this event when I viewed it as something of a complete overreaction? I went on to explain my opinion to her: jealousy is a completely natural and unavoidable part of ANY relationship. Sure, plenty of people deny it and like to say that they never feel jealous because his/her relationship is completely based on trust. What I always want to respond is that no one is questioning the level of trust in your relationship but in fact all I am saying is that it's 100% natural and ok to feel a little jealousy here and there. The problem is when you can't recognize that jealousy. When you don't notice or even worse, when you don't care; that's when jealousy becomes a problem. Her partner had actually recognized, acknowledged, and made her aware of the fact that he 100% understood that he had made a mistake- something not all people are willing to do. Feeling a desire to keep something that you like so much to yourself alone is completely understandable, hence why you like it so much and want to spend time with your partner. If you have your absolute favorite, delectable candy in front of you you're not going to turn to the guy next to you and be like, "Here ya go, friend!" Now the difference, my intelligent colleagues, that we are well aware of…is that we should not be treating a person like a dessert.

Now again- why do I feel this way? Is it how I have always felt? Is it based on the relationship (however limited they may be) experiences I've had? Then I began to wonder/worry- is it because I've spent so much time in a Latin country surrounded by Latin relationships? Was it because I am in a relationship with a Latin man?

Living here has given me a new perspective on countless things- music taste, social class, political corruption, placing value on the important things- and the list goes on and on and on. One of the things I would include on that list would be the way a relationship works and what is healthy and what is unhealthy. Granted, these are very personal things and are can be approached in a million different ways but for me, I sometimes find relationships in the United States specifically to be very dry, closed, and unappealing. On the other hand, I find them to generally be more balanced than those I have seen in Mexico. I have seen some craaaazy things done solely because of a jealous rage. I think people tend to relate jealousy to the male counterpart in a relationship but kids, these Mexican mamas KNOW how to express themselves. Now of course I am speaking in general here and know all relationships in Latin American countries are not based purely on feelings and desires but I feel comfortable saying that jealousy is approached with a much lighter perspective here. The problem is obviously when that jealousy so rapidly and so easily converts itself into the need for control.

I think with all the attention I receive as a foreigner in such a small city impacts the way my partner reacts to certain situations. I think there are a lot of people in life that might be surprised by some of the dynamics of my romantic relationship – on one hand he has become very understanding and really couldn't care less and at the same time I think there are moments when he's just like, guy, back off or you'll regret it. It's the instinct, the emotion, the want. It's what you feel, not what you think. So if we're doing so much thinking and so little feeling, what's left? Just a whole lotta "Ok, so tell me how you feel about that" instead of just letting the person show you.

I am in now way supporting jealousy-inspired outbursts or idiocies but all I'm saying is maybe we should be a little more understanding of our hearts and a little less conscious of our brains. That we can use situations like the one my friend went through as learning experiences that we don't want repeated instead of deal-breakers. I feel that we are all capable of understanding and controlling our emotions if we do it consciously.

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