But before I get into what you should do about it, let’s talk about jealousy for a second. Jealousy is an emotion that, at its core, is based around insecurity. When you’re jealous of someone (as opposed to when you’re envious of them), you’re worried that that someone is going to take what you have. You feel as though that you just aren’t enough , that you don’t have enough inherent worth or value to hold on to whatever it is you’re afraid of losing… especially when it’s another person. So when you encounter someone that you perceive as horning in on your territory – whether they actually are or aren’t – then you feel those sour emotions bubble up inside you. You start to envision scenarios where your special someone is going to be distracted by the new shiny object and leave you in their rear-view mirror. And because the brain can’t tell the difference between the imaginary and the real, you react to that imagined scenario instead of the real one. So, despite the fact that nothing has actually happened, you’re responding as though you’ve already been dumped.
But it’s the reasons behind the feelingsdump that are the real problem. And it’s where you made your major mistake: you didn’t listen to what she told you. She told you up front that she wants something casual, because she’s in a transitory state and wants to just explore her own feelings for a bit. It would be one thing to try to define terms – what does casual mean to her, what should you two expect – but you didn’t. You heard “I don’t want anything serious” and responded with “challenge accepted”.
Then, listen to her. Not just “physically hear the words” but actually internalize them, so that you aren’t acting on false or invented hope. If what she has to offer is something you can live with, then hey, awesome. Enjoy your time with her.
But if it isn’t? Then the best thing you can do is enjoy being her friend, even having a flirty friendship, but look for the kind of relationship you need elsewhere.
But then I thought a little more. Obviously it’s great if she reciprocates, and it’s fine if she’s comfortable giving a kind “Thanks but no thanks.” But then what about the ones who just aren’t comfortable handing out rejection? And that’s without getting into her fear that I might turn aggressive.
How should a guy navigate that minefield? I mean, I understand about not approaching a woman on a bus and so forth, but what about that party scenario? Is it just something I have to live with, that some women will be unhappy that I spoke to them?