Office party season sparks outbreak of '˜seasonal jealousy', Sussex author claims

One-in-five Brits will try to stop their partners from attending office parties this week - to prevent them from flirting '˜or worse' with colleagues, new research by a Brighton author reveals.

Nigel Cooper
Nigel Cooper

The study was conducted by Brighton author Nigel Jay Cooper to mark the publication of his novel Beat The Rain, which hits the shelves this week.

Cooper, whose novel centres on the tragic outcome of a failing long-term relationship, believes the symptoms of the condition, which he calls ‘Seasonal Jealousy Disorder (SJD)’, are “distinctly more pronounced” in the boozy party season.

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He said nearly a fifth of adults are so worried about being cheated on in the festive season that they will demand their other half stays home.

The threat of infidelity is “too great to willingly accept” when copious amounts of alcohol and attractive co-workers are so freely available, the author claims.

A significant proportion of those who are ‘allowed’ to attend Christmas parties, meanwhile, are given orders to stay sober, come back early, or to provide regular updates by text message.

Others are under firm instructions to wear something drab or un-sexy to evade attention and deter “potential predators”, a survey has found.

But in a strange twist, almost all those prone to jealousy said they rarely experience feelings of insecurity, mistrust and defensiveness at any other time of year.

“Jealousy is a perfectly normal and common side-effect of being in love, in that we want to do everything within our power to protect our partner from the advances of potential predators,” he said.

“The findings of this research clearly suggest, as one might expect, that tensions are heightened, perhaps for the first and only time each year, during the party season. Anyone who has ever attended a work event will appreciate the unpalatable cocktail of jealousy it offers.

“For many, it seems, the risk of a loved one being approached by a potential suitor, or even the idea of their loved one flirting or worse with a potential suitor, is too great to willingly accept.”

The straw poll set out to determine if Britons could be more prone to jealousy during the Christmas and New Year party season than at any other time of year.

Of those 750 men and women questioned, the majority (85 per cent) agreed that some people were more susceptible than others, though just 32 per cent described themselves as the ‘jealous sort’.

Most (78 per cent) believed that feelings of jealousy were more likely to occur at any time up until the ‘seven year itch’ – the point when a relationship may start to decline.

When asked to list the main triggers of jealousy, a ‘flirtatious’ or ‘overtly attractive’ other half topped the list with 100 per cent and 80 per cent of the votes respectively.

One or both party’s insecurities (91 per cent), and the threat of particularly amorous work colleagues (77 per cent), were also said to be primary causes.

Generally speaking, the most common symptoms of jealously were said to include being ‘overly protective’ (90 per cent), getting ‘angry’ or ‘frustrated’ (45 per cent), or becoming ‘introverted’ (18 per cent).

Two-thirds (62 per cent) said that jealousy was more common in winter, with just over half (53 per cent) believing that Seasonal Jealousy Disorder was to blame.

When asked what steps the average person could take to relieve the symptoms of SJD, 20 per cent said preventing the other half from going to the work Christmas party would help.

Nearly the same number (19 per cent) said they would be at ease if their partners did not wear a new outfit or wear make-up when attending a party.

Three-quarters (73 per cent) said a ban on flirting, on heavy drinking (31 per cent), and on speaking to colleagues without discussing the loving relationship they are in (92 per cent), would also give peace of mind.

Eight and six per cent respectively reckoned an early departure and swift phone notification of any advances would also be appreciated.

Only 12 per cent of those polled said it was ‘good’ to see their partners receiving sexual attention from colleagues or strangers.

Cooper added: “Seasonal Jealousy Disorder is obviously not a medical condition, or a well-known term, but it perfectly illustrates the plight of men and women from across the UK whose partners are forced to attend work parties.”