Are You A Jealous Or Territorial Person?


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Some people think that it is cool to have a jealous partner as jealousy is a sign of love. That is actually incorrect. What is cool is to have a territorial partner. Whether you admit it or not, we all need territorial people in our lives. To have a territorial person in your life is to have someone you can rely to through thick and thin in your corner.

“A man by nature is a social animal...” (Aristotle).

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Territoriality is a sociobiological trait in animals which is a manifestation of the instinct to defend, protect and provide for what is theirs.

Animals are not the only ones who can be territorial. Humans are territorial animals, we just do it in more sophisticated ways. We may not urinate on the trees to mark our territory but we do build walls and fence around our property to ward off intruders. The message is clear,”This property is mine, DO NOT TREPASS”.

Surprisingly, when it comes to relationship, people tend to cringe at the word “territorial”. What is territoriality in a relationship anyway? Is it something negative or positive? Let’s take a look.

Territoriality vs. possessiveness

The word “posses” is usually applied to non living objects. When we like something, we have the urge to buy it so we can own it and make it ours. And then we have the choice to either use it well, put it on a shelf to collect dust or to throw it around. The object has no say whatsoever about how it should be treated as it’s a non living thing.

I personally would rather use the word “belong” which is ” to be a part of you”. When we truly love someone, we want that person to belong to us.

We all need to feel the sense of belonging. People proudly declare that they belong to a certain country, ethnicity, tribe, clan or family. Whether we admit it or not, we all need to feel that we belong to something and somebody. Nobody wants to be alone and as social beings, deep down we know that we have a better chance of survival by being a part of others. So, there is nothing wrong with saying, “I belong to you and you belong to me”. That is not the same as being possessive.

To want to posses someone you love is wrong. To want to belong to someone you love and want him/her to belong to you is not wrong. That’s why people are in committed relationships and then they get married, which is the act of ultimate commitment and public declaration that they are belong to each other. In most cultures, the wife then willingly take the husband’s name. That doesn’t mean that she is now possessed by the husband, but rather, the wife now belongs to the family although they are not related by blood.

Territoriality vs. Jealousy

A lot of people think that being territorial in a relationship is the same as being jealous. That is not true. There are distinct differences between territoriality and jealousy. Jealousy is a negative trait, territoriality is a positive trait. Jealousy stems from fear and insecurity. The focus of jealousy is actually yourself. Territoriality is an instinctive act to provide and protect the one(s) you love. Jealousy focuses on you, territoriality focuses on your partner. You are being territorial because you care for their well being. Jealousy breeds resentment, anxiety and distrust, territoriality breeds a sense of safety, security and trust.

A territorial animal will attack an intruder in order to protect the member of it’s pride. It is not sitting there, seething and thinking, “hmmm....I think my mate is going to leave me. I have to do something to prevent her from leaving”.

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You are being jealous you don’t like your partner to go to a bar without you because you are afraid that she will meet other men and end up leaving you.However, if you don’t like your partner to go to a bar without you because you care about her well-being and think that it’s not safe for her to be there without you, then you are being territorial.

If you don’t like your partner to wear revealing clothes because you think she is wearing it to attract other men, then you are being jealous. But if you don’t like your partner to wear revealing clothes because you don’t want some idiots to harass her and think of her as you know what, then you are being territorial.

A mother who marches down to school after hearing that her teenage boy is being bullied by his schoolmates is a territorial person. A father who is working hard to provide for his family is a territorial person. A friend who sticks up for you in the middle of a fight as if to say “back off, he is with me!”, is a territorial person. A boyfriend/husband who stands up for you against his family is being territorial. But a boyfriend who is checking your phone, stalking you and accusing of seeing someone else when you aren’t is just a jealous person, not territorial.

Territoriality vs. controlling behavior

Territorial animals don’t confine their members in a den. They are given protection and provision while free to roam around and do about their business within the territory if. Occasionally, a member of a pride or pack leaves and forms it’s own new pack or pride. Once out, it no longer entitle to the provision and protection from the pack.

If you are a citizen of a country, you belong to that country and you have to abide by the country’s laws and rules whether you like it or not. In relationship, we call it boundaries. As much as we like freedom, we also need boundaries because freedom without boundaries creates chaos. A child who was never introduced to a set of boundaries will never know how to differentiate the rights from wrongs. Boundaries create a sense of security. Imagine living in a society without boundaries, will you feel safe there? Having a mutually healthy agreed upon boundaries in a relationship means both parties is being territorial, it’s not controlling.

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In the animal kingdom, every members of the pride knows what they should and shouldn’t do to sustain the existence of their pride and ensure that there is protection and provision for everybody. In a relationship. territoriality must go both ways. You can’t expect your partner to be territorial while you muck about and not doing your part to maintain and sustain a healthy and happy relationship. Being territorial is a way to say “we belong to one another, you have my back and I have yours. I’ll always be there for you and so will you or me”. When one party involve in a relationship is non territorial, the other person will feel taken for granted, abandoned, unloved and un-cared for, and that’s how people stray to look for a greener pasture and more territorial partner.

So, don’t be jealous, be territorial”😊

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.

12 Comments:

  • Johnny Nicks:

    Great blog, blog of the month Angela? :) Very interesting reading. I’m going to do some research now on territoriality.


    Having a sense of belonging is a core human need.


    I understand that you have highlighted the thinking differences between jealousy and territoriality, but I’m not sure about the ability to separate feelings of jealousy from being territorial in myself, they feel very similar things to me. For example when I reflect on my partner when she is interacting in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable..


    How does someone demonstrate territoriality instead of jealousy to their partner? Is it just a matter of saying, “if you go out in that skimpy short skirt you might catch a cold”, rather than “I dont like you going out like that showing your sexy legs to the guys at work?”

  • Angela17: Lol...it’s not about what you demonstrate but rather your way of thinking. you will automatically demonstrate what you’re thinking and his your mind works. If what you demonstrate is not align with what is in your mind then you’re just lying. How do you separate between jealousy and territoriality? Hmm...perhaps I should write a blog about Emotional Inteligence, which is a very interesting topic but basically just means the ability to identify and discern your emotions (and others’) and how to deal with them. How do you do that is by questioning your emotions and challenge them. Supposedly, your gf is talking to a guy and you don’t feel comfortable about it. What you have to do is to identify what is it that you are feeling. Is it anger? Sadness?Hurt? Then you try to pin point where that emotion comes from. Is it out of fear that she’s going to cheat on you? Or is it because you’re worried about her safety and well being? Now, challenge yourself for example by asking "what is it that I need from my gf? Do I need reassurance from her that she’s not talking to that guy because she fancies him? Do I want her to stop talking to males in order to make me feel better? Is it reasonable to ask her to ONLY talk to female?", and so on. Jealousy is negative, Nick, always! Territoriality is good. Jealousy is something you mostly have work on your own. If you are a jealous person, then no matter how much reassurance and proofs your gf is trying to offer you, it will only work short term to make you feel better (until you start assuming that she’s trying to cheat again), but it will never change your from a jealous guy to a non jealous guy. It’s wrong to think that jealousy is a by product of love. You love your sons to bits, don’t you? Are you jealous at them too? I hope not, but if you’re a good father I do hope that your territorial when it comes to them.
  • Johnny Nicks: Ok, when you talk about protecting my sons when they were younger, (they are big and strong enough to protect themselves now) yes you are right I don’t get jealous.. but if my GF seems to flirt with guys, I feel all those things: irritation, sadness and hurt as I wonder why she might be doing it in front of me..Its not necessarily a fear of potentially losing her to someone else or insecurity. I suppose it may be something to do with respect? I don’t think she would cheat at all she is very loyal, so she tells me ;)
  • vitameg: This is a very interesting blog Angela! Well done!
    In my opinion, humans had kept, or acquired and developed in time, a wide range of animal traits, which could come under the same definitions as those applied to non-human animals (I am thinking to divergent and convergent evolution).
    Territoriality is one of them. Though I would be grateful to you if you could pinpoint to me the source for the definition “Territoriality is a sociobiological trait in animals which is a manifestation of the instinct to defend, protect and provide for what is theirs”. I ask strictly under professional interest, because providing, in my opinion, would fit to other traits/behaviours.
    This blog raise to me some ideas/questions Angela:
    - If you are willing to relate human traits with animals traits, like territoriality, then I am puzzled why you don’t consider alfa-male, alfa-female behaviour as valid one for humans, as in some animals it is closely related with territorialism.
    -in many species, territorialism is about ensuring genetic transfer to offspring, successful reproductive activity, the protective behaviour over the partner only manifest during mating season, and infanticide is often observed. So I wonder if it is reasonable to put a positive or negative value on these traits expressed in non-humans and humans populations.
    -no going closer to my personal experiences here on RT or in other parts or the world, I would say that, if I jump and ask questions and defend, more than I usual do, a user from my area of living (belonging to a country), from what I see a potential threat to his/her emotional well-being, then that is an expression of territorialism and protection? Not aggressiveness or other thing …
    -you say that: being territorial is a way to say “we belong to one another, you have my back and I have yours. I’ll always be there for you and so will you or me”. To me, someone expressing such behaviour towards me, used to mean the same. Used to… :(, as we should be all be aware that, some of us are expressing such behaviour but do not acknowledge it. I tend to believe more about what a behaviour tells me, that what someone mouth does
  • Angela17:

    Vita, the definition was my own based on my understanding. Feel free to define the term differently to your own understanding. On to your next comment about about alpha male/female I never said I don’t consider it valid. I do have my own opinion about it but that’s irrelevant to this blog’s topic. We are discussing about territoriality in relationship and not alpha male/female. You can write a blog about alpha male/female and I will give you my opinion about it. You can adopt the concept of territoriality and modify it to be more adaptable in your personal or professional relationship, it doesn’t have to be always in the context of mating and breeding. We all have the tendency to be territorial. Don’t you feel the need to protect, defend and provide for the people you are close with? Won’t you stick up for your family, close friends or other people you love and care about? It’s more about how you interact with the people you have a strong bond and form a “pack” with, within the same territory, rather than about mating. That “pack” can be your family, circle of close friends, community, etc., just make sure you know where is your territory before you start being territorial or you will be seen as trespassing. That being said, sometimes the members of the “pack” fight against each other, in that case.....well, may the best member win! Lol..😆

  • Angela17: Nicks, ahh....so you are jealous. Notice how you focus on yourself instead of her? It’s good that you can describe your feelings in a more detailed manner than just "uncomfortable". Talk to her about them, sometimes one’s perception of "flirting" and "respect" is different than other’s.
  • vitameg: Angela, thank you for the answer regarding that definition. Consider my question a professional habit (if you want, of course).
    Sometimes trespassing can be misunderstood, especially when the target of the territorial behaviour is mistaken by the one evaluating the trespass. However, such events will not stop me from being protective when I see fit, for the ones I care. And even for "strangers" when I see injustice.
    As for the "packs", some tend to be very loose, so when it comes to conserving the individual energy for good purposes, its maybe better to evaluate the "pack" (as members and as unity), before turning into a competition (if).
    I lack the word-flowing (especially in a foreign language) to start such blogs, so I will decline your gentle call for a blog on alpha male/female. My memory is sometimes too good, my mistake.
  • Angela17: Okay, maybe Nicks can write a blog about alpha male/female 😀. I can’t help but feeling that there’s something you want to say but you don’t feel comfortable to disclose it in public, which is okay. I’m sure you have a good reason for it, but it’s difficult for me to give a more accurate response to your comment as I can only go by assumption, but I will do my best to comment nevertheless. You can be in a "pack" but you don’t feel that you belong there and that makes it difficult for you to be territorial. Territoriality in animals is instinctual but in humans it’s about commitment, loyalty and integrity. You need to have a strong bond first before you can be loyal, commited and have integrity towards the "pack" and if you don’t feel that you belong to the "pack" even though technically you’re a part of it, you can never have that strong bond with the rest of the "pack". You can be a part of a relationship , family or community but if you don’t feel that you belong to them, I can understand why you can’t be territorial towards them, I’ve been there and that’s not a very comfortable situation. Why you don’t feel that you don’t belong is possibly because you don’t share the same values and beliefs as the rest of them and it makes you feel alienated which breeds resentment.
  • Johnny Nicks: I’m not a great believer in the alpha male theory as I understand the research was done on wolves and possibly incorrectly extrapolated to humans. I think what attracts some women, does not always attract every woman. We all seem to want slightly different things at different times in our lives..
  • Angel1: Jealous is wanting something thats not yours territorial is keeping whats yours. Im not at all jealous but i am territorial. If i feel a girl is too close to my man i go into a mini rage. Why? Cause im the only female he needs to spend time with besides family. I dont have male friends cause i know how males are. They think they can have every woman that smiles at them. And im sorry it doesnt work that way.
  • Angela17: Consider how would your mini rage benefit him? Were you thinking about him or yourself before you launched into a rage? Was your rage born out of fear that you might ode your man to another woman?
  • Driana: This really helps and I love how you gave examples to further explain your point. It was really informative and mind opening. Thank you

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