Sooo, Can Jealousy Actually Make You Nauseous?
🎵 “I pictured you with other girls in love... then threw up on the street” 🎵
You know in Legally Blonde, when Vivian puts her hand — sparkling engagement ring and all — on Warner’s shoulder and Elle dies a little bit inside? Jealousy’s a b*tch, and it seems like Elle Woods isn’t the only blonde icon who knows it. In Taylor Swift’s song “Hits Different,” she sings about what it’s like to lose someone you love — reflecting on the drunken nights out with friends that often cushion a painful split. One lyric, in particular, has struck a chord with TikTok: “I pictured you with other girls in love / Then threw up on the street.” But can jealousy actually make you sick? Elite Daily asked an expert if you should need to stock up on Tums before watching your ex’s Instagram Stories.
If the “Hits Different” TikTok trend hasn’t infiltrated your algorithm yet, here’s what you’re missing: As the song plays in the background, users fill the screen with stories of their most emotional (and embarrassing) romantic moments. Their tales tend to follow the same format: finding out unwanted information about a crush or SO, then having a powerful reaction — ranging from vomit to “beat[ing] a bag of soil [with] a baseball bat.”
Whether you can relate or not, the trend raises an important question: Are physical reactions, like throwing up, a typical response to jealousy? According to Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist, there’s a reason so many people have similar experiences to share — but it might not be the green-eyed monster making you nauseous.
Can Jealousy Make You Sick?
Swift’s descriptive imagery might be on point, but jealousy and throw-up don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Still, there’s a reason this guttural reaction speaks to so many people. “Our emotions are as physical, or more specifically physiological, as any other bodily function,” Klapow tells Elite Daily. “We experience emotions because of complex releases of neurochemicals in our brains. These go on to impact every type of bodily functioning.”
That’s why it’s not unusual to feel hot or cold, experience dry mouth, have cramps, and get nauseous when emotions are heightened. Per Klapow, “Feeling jealous can result in a series of ‘activation’ physical responses.” That might look (and feel) different for different people, but Klapow notes that jealousy “is associated with increased muscle tension, flushing, [and] increased gastrointestinal motility.” Ever felt your stomach cramp when your SO mentioned their “work wife”? Yeah, that’s exactly what Klapow is referencing.
Although jealousy itself cannot directly cause vomiting, the “overall distress” it causes can, says Klapow. “The physiological processes associated with the emotion of jealousy can include vomiting. So, we may get nauseous when we are jealous because of intense anger, fear, or anxiety.”
So, as Swift points out, throwing up is a possibility. But there are other potential physiological symptoms as well. Picturing your ex “with other girls in love” can also lead to headache, abdominal cramping, upset stomach, flushing, and muscle tension. Swift isn’t the only one who has felt that way — and sang about it. In “Jealous,” Nick Jonas points out, “I turn my chin music up / And I'm puffing my chest / I'm getting red in the face / You can call me obsessed.”
What Should You Do About Jealousy?
You can’t stop yourself from feeling emotions — and you shouldn’t try to. Emotions, even painful ones, are healthy, normal, and necessary. So, if you’re feeling jealous, what is there to do (besides throwing up, obvi)? Klapow suggests giving yourself grace when processing your emotional reaction. “Jealousy can subside with time, distance, and clarity. It needs to be processed by the brain in a way that shifts it from a raw, intense experience to a place of learning and insight,” he explains.
How exactly does that happen? “First, be honest and acknowledge that you are jealous. Next, pin down very specifically what you’re jealous of.” JSYK, it’s not as cut-and-dry as being jealous of a relationship. “You need to dive deeper to name the jealousy,” Klapow says. “Are you jealous that you don’t have the life they do? That you want love for yourself? That you feel like a failure?” Comparison often sets you up to feel like you’re losing, or that you’re not where you’re supposed to be — romantically or otherwise.
You have to name your jealousy to fully address it. But once you put in that work, it becomes easier to handle. “You overcome jealousy by feeling it, thinking about it, and allowing it to be a part of your life experience versus a front and center emotion,” Klapow says. By framing it this way, you limit your emotions’ ability to control you.
Is Sharing Your Experiences On TikTok A Healthy Way To Cope?
As TikTokers share their own “Hits Different” experiences, they’re bringing a sense of humor to their past pain. Per Klapow, that can be a healthy way to adjust the lens on heartbreak. “Knowing that you are not alone in your experiences and knowing that others are going through what you are going through can be very healing,” he says.
It all comes back to “validation” that you aren’t alone or over-reacting. Knowing others have been there, throwing up just like you, can put things into perspective. Music helps, too. “Often, the lyrics of a song can say the things that we are thinking but we never thought anyone else experienced,” Klapow says.
Still, a bit of introspection before you post can go a long way toward making sure TikTok is, in fact, a healthy outlet for your emotions. Klapow suggests asking yourself, “Why are you sharing? What is the goal?” He adds, “Be honest — is it to help others or to garner attention? If you can answer that question, then you’ll know if you should post or not.”
Your best bet? Talk over your “Hits Different” moment with friends before sharing it with the world. (I promise your group chat will be kinder than an anonymous comments section.) Then again, if you feel more comfortable sharing your story with the whole world, go for it — there’s always a chance Taylor sees and appreciates the hilarity.