Even in the healthiest of relationships, the so-called “green-eyed monster” can rear its ugly head at any time. Jealousy is actually a totally normal emotion to have, especially if you care deeply about your partner.
However, excessive amounts of jealousy can break down trust and lead to bitterness and anxiety, and potentially lead to the collapse of a good relationship. First, we have to understand what jealousy is. It’s an emotion, usually based around fear or envy of a relationship (however platonic) that your partner has with someone else in their lives.
This emotion can lead to thoughts and feelings of anxiety, anger or insecurity, often rooted in a fear of losing your partner to this other person. The source of your jealousy could come from anywhere:
- The cute barista at your partner’s favourite coffee shop.
- A colleague they are close to at work who they spend a lot of time around.
- Even one of your own friends who they get on with very well.
The Negative Effects of Jealousy
As previously mentioned, it’s normal to feel some jealousy now and again in a healthy relationship. However, if your partner notices you behaving differently when they talk to other men or women, or you’re arguing more than you used to, jealousy may be doing damage to your relationship.
When you start questioning or accusing your partner of being romantically interested in other people, it’s going to hurt their feelings as well. Fundamentally, jealousy is a fear of loss often rooted in low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy, where you don’t measure up romantically or sexually to others.
This could come from a fear of abandonment rooted in childhood, or from bad relationships you’ve had in the past. Either way, you wake up day after day with an irrational fear of losing your partner.
It’s not easy reversing the effects of jealousy right away, but, if you don’t want to enjoy a healthy relationship, it’s vital you put the work in to help preserve your own personal happiness.
If you find yourself frequently getting jealous of a person or persons in your partner’s life, take a look at these five great tips on how to keep jealousy under control and approach your relationship with a clear head.
1. Identify the Problem
Is feeling jealous something that happens to you a lot? Think through your past relationships to see if jealousy is something you feel habitually with other partners. Did it affect past relationships, or is this something you’re feeling for the first time with your current partner?
If you notice a pattern of regularly losing your cool every time you’ve seen a partner share a laugh with someone of the opposite sex, then you may have to confront the fact that the issue lies with yourself.
If feelings of jealousy are only happening in your current relationship, then think about what it is that makes it difficult for you to trust this partner. Either way, realize that something needs to change if you want to go back to enjoying a positive relationship.
2. Examine Your Relationship from a Fresh Perspective
Imagine you’re out at a restaurant with a partner. A member of staff brings the bill, and your partner pays with a “Thank you, have a nice day”. You then accuse them of flirting with the staff member. From you’re point of view, this may seem valid and justified.
If you find your partner attractive, you worry that others will too and that they may respond positively to their advances. However, try and switch places and see how this looks from your partner’s standpoint: they may feel oppressed by how you police their behaviours, and that your possessiveness is stifling their ability to enjoy themselves when out and about.
Think about how you would feel in their shoes, and you may realize that much more such behaviour might lead someone to break off a relationship, which should be motivation enough to work on yourself.
3. Discover the True Source of Your Jealousy
If you’ve managed to establish that you have something of a history of jealousy running through your love life, it’s time to try and discover the root of the problem. Scientific thought has a few theories relating to the source of jealousy.
One stems from an evolutionary model of limited resources: just as there was only so much food to go around, so too are there only so many romantic partners available, and so jealousy is experienced as a competitive emotion.
Another reason could be a history of betrayal, loss or abandonment in your past, whether in a romantic context or in your family history: if one parent cheated on the other, you may have trouble trusting partners yourself. Another reason you’re feeling jealousy could be your attachment style, i.e. the main mode of your expression in a relationship.
The anxious attachment style is one defined by insecurities, which, of course, make for much more fertile conditions for jealousy to sprout from. Either way, it’s crucial you identify the source of your jealous behavior so as to better counter and guard against its effects.
4. Take Pride in Yourself
Having thoughts and feelings of jealousy is a perfectly natural thing: it’s how we process these feelings that dictate their impact on our lives. You can certainly choose to confront your partner with these feelings.
However, what might be more productive is to sit down with yourself, acknowledge these feelings and then set out to process them in a healthy and logical manner. You’re feeling jealous? Okay, now think about why that is. It can be helpful to wait for some time to pass you have more objective, unbiased perspective on the situation when trying to figure things out.
Remember, you can definitely talk to your partner about these feelings without accusing them of causing them deliberately. In this way you can both help each other to find a solution, and your partner feels more involved with your emotional well being rather than being the object of your attacks.
Also, remember that jealousy can also stem from a lack of confidence and self esteem. If there are other things in your life that need fixing, sort them out, and you might not be quite as susceptible to those feelings as you were before.
5. Limit Your Social Media Snooping
There really is nothing like social media when it comes to stirring up feelings of jealousy, envy, and betrayal between partners. You can cross-examine people’s histories, research their past lovers and dig up information they haven’t yet told you.
In such an echo chamber, the smallest action can be blown out of proportion and read as a huge personal slight. Chances are if you visit their profile looking for evidence to confirm your suspicions, every like, share, photo or friend has the potential to be a damning indictment.
Try and stay away from your partner’s social media as much as possible. In any case, if they’d done something really bad there’s a low chance they’d have broadcast it for all their friends and family to see.
While jealousy can often feel overwhelming at the moment, with some perspective and patience it is definitely something that can be overcome. Once you can identify the problem, you can start to fix it.
Don’t be shy about talking through these problems with your partner either, as long as you can do so in such a way as not to accuse them of anything and in a constructive way that emphasizes finding a solution to the problem. All good relationships are built on a foundation of communication, and you may find talking through the problem and hearing your partner’s side of the story is enough to put your jealousy to rest.
About the writer: Nika Goddard is an experienced writer, psychologist, and traveler. She loves to research world cultures, languages, food, and meet interesting people. She’s also a beginner in web design. You can connect with Nika through Twitter.