"Watching a person or a couple cope with jealousy," says psychologist Gregory L. White, "is like putting a microscope on how they defend themselves against threats to their self-esteem."
The seven strategies people adopt to deal with jealousy, he says, are:
1. Withdrawing from the relationship.
2. Denying that anything is really going on.
3. Becoming introspective by exploring their feelings and figuring out what they can learn from the experience.
4. Deciding to compete with -- and triumph over -- their rival.
5. Working to please their partner and triumph over -- their rival.
6. Developing alternatives outside the relationship, such as hobbies, career and other sources of self-esteem.
7. Denegrating their partner or rival. If the other person is a bum, he or she can no longer be a threat to self-esteem.
As a nearly universal experience in the life of a couple, he says, "jealousy can be used as a learning device. It's a time to look at who you are, how you relate to your partner and what makes the relationship tick.
"It's fine to talk to a best friend for support, but not for advice," adds White, who plans to run jealousy workshops for couples with his fiance Therese Helbick, a clinical psychology graduate.
"It's difficult for a best friend to be objective. And jealousy is a highly charged emotional situation that people react to differently."