A little jealousy in a relationship can be a good thing with positive results. In this Glam article, Mindpath Health’s Leela R. Magavi, MD, discusses how hysterical bonding takes mild jealousy to heightened levels.  

Relationships have a lot of ups and downs. Even the most stable relationships can’t always keep things on a permanent even keel without the boat being occasionally rocked — and the boat needs to be rocked because there’s no such thing as forever calm waters just as much as there’s no such thing as couples who never fight. One aspect of arguing with a partner can stem out of jealousy and surprisingly, it can affect a relationship in a positive way — at least temporarily. 

“Mild jealousy can be healthy,” psychiatrist Dr. Leela Magavi, M.D. says. “It reiterates the fact that an individual cares about his or her partner, values them and does not want to lose them.” 

Not only does it assert value, but when one partner sees that the other partner is being desired by someone outside the relationship, for example, flirted with, hit on, or even being actively pursued, it can really trigger something within the partner who’s watching it take place. This feeling is an example of hysterical bonding. 

What is hysterical bonding?

In our relationships, we’re all presented with situations that make us question our partnership, as well as our trust in our partner. Even if our partner has been faithful and wouldn’t even dream of cheating, the very thought can evoke strong emotions, even hysterical emotions, which can push healthy jealousy over the top. 

Such behavior can involve acting out, being suspicious, and even blaming the partner for having done something to attract someone else — as we saw between Ethan and Harper in “White Lotus.”  

Is hysterical bonding good for a relationship?

Although any relationship expert will tell you that a little jealousy in a relationship can be a good thing with positive results, hysterical bonding takes mild jealousy to heightened levels. In other words, like anything that’s so high in nature — especially emotions — it can’t be sustained forever and eventually needs to crash.  

What it comes down to is that, although not the most ideal way to bring the spark back into a relationship, hysterical bonding can serve its purpose in the short term. But in the long-term, if you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your partner, you need to nurture it by learning to communicate in a productive way that gets results — and not in a way that one or both partners are seething with anger and jealousy. 

Read the full Glam article with sources. 

Leela Magavi, M.D.

Newport Beach, CA

Dr. Leela Magavi is a native Californian and Hopkins-trained psychiatrist committed to providing compassionate, evidence-based care to individuals of all cultural, political, religious, sexual, and socioeconomic backgrounds. She completed her adult psychiatry residency at Georgetown University Hospital, during which time she also had the invaluable experience of caring for veterans at Washington, D.C. VA. As a resident, she was awarded ... Read Full Bio »

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