Taylor Swift’s latest music video shows just how out of hand a relationship can get.
In the video, made for the song “Blank Space” off Swift’s new album “1989,” Swift smashes a car with a golf club, sets clothes on fire and even stabs a cake. Think of the massacre.
Instant reactions from people watching the video: “She’s crazy.” “She’s insane.” “She’s nutso.”
But really, T-Swift is just jealous. And people can learn a lot about the correct way to express emotions by analyzing her outrageous actions in the video.
In the song, Swift sings about how her current relationship is falling apart. One of the flaws she faces is her own jealousy, seen when she devilishly stares at her male partner as he texts someone else. “Who is she?” Swift sings. “I get drunk on jealousy.”
She then proceeds to beat up her boyfriend’s car, rip his clothes and cause havoc in his life.
That's not very helpful for solving a relationship's problems, even if it is a natural human response. Jealousy is an emotion tied to fear or anxiety, usually associated with a lack of confidence or self-esteem. In some cases, people think up images of that fear or anxiety — like a spouse texting someone else, even if it’s strictly platonic.
How jealous people feel is often tied to one’s upbringing. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, kids with low self-esteem or who are lonely tend to feel more threatened by, or jealous of, their peers. That usually leads them to act more aggressively later on in life (think Swift breaking her ex-boyfriend’s car in the video).
"Jealousy is kind of a behavior, motivation and cognitive mix," said Jeffrey G. Parker, a professor at Penn State University, to the APA. Jealous children "end up worrying so much about their relationships, they don't get to enjoy them because they are always protecting them ... and become preoccupied with whether they will last.”
And that can be physically harming, more than just a lover breaking your car. Jealousy can be so overwhelming it can make you blind. According to a study cited by LiveScience, people who feel jealous become so distracted by images in their head of what they're jealous about that they become physically distracted from the task they’re performing.
"When an emotional stimulus appears, it draws attention to itself — and thus draws attention away from other things that come immediately afterwards," said Steven Most, the study’s researcher from the University of Delaware. "When attention is preoccupied in such a way, we tend to miss thing that appear right in front of our eyes."
So how do you conquer jealousy when it comes to the one you love? According to Craig Malkin of Psychology Today, it’s about connecting with your significant other and making sure they're aware of the internal struggle you're having.
Malkin said people fearing their jealousy may destroy the relationship and should, in moderation, ask for reassurance from their partner that everything is OK. They should also know their limits. If something or someone is causing too many problems with jealousy, they may want to leave it or their relationship behind, Malkin wrote.
So if you don’t want to be like T-Swift and, therefore, choose to actually solve your relationship problems amicably, you just need to regain control of your emotions to conquer the fear.
“Learn to ask for reassuring gestures of connection and caring,” Malkin said. “If you can't rely on your partner for reassurance, you'll rely on jealous controls instead. Connection is the cure for jealousy.”