Overcoming Jealousy in a Relationship: Tips and Strategies
Signs of Jealousy in a Relationship
Constantly checking in – This can be disguised as genuine concern. However, too many calls or texts when you’re apart and with other people might not be an innocent check-in. Some jealous partners may require that you check in with them at specific times. In addition, they may ask that you use tracking apps so that they can see where you are at all times.
Spending all time together – While it’s nice your partner enjoys being around you so much, not giving you any alone time is unhealthy. Additionally, it might be a signal that they don’t trust you to be on your own. Asking you to ditch plans and showing up uninvited to be with you are red flags.
Monitoring your communication with others- They may tell you it’s because they want your relationship to be “an open book” with “nothing to hide”. However, if your partner feels the need to look through your texts and social media, it’s a sign of unhealthy jealous behavior. Access to your passwords and the like is about control, not honesty.
Criticizing the people in your life – Some overly jealous partners aim to get you all to themself by cutting you off from friends and family. They may share their negative opinions of the people in your life, in hopes that you agree and cut ties.
Negative Effects on Relationships
Unwarranted jealousy takes a great toll on the relationship. Jealous partners can behave in ways that are unreasonable. In some cases, jealousy escalates to a point where it becomes dangerous.
Jealousy within a romantic relationship can cause the following:
- Lack of trust
- Increased arguments
Tips to Overcome Jealousy
It is natural to want to protect your relationship, but real love is not possessive. With work, you can overcome jealousy and improve your bond. Take these steps to help:
Identify your insecurities
The best thing you can do is to look at the root of the issue. Ask yourself where these jealous feelings are coming from. You can do this through journaling or speaking with a therapist.
Ask yourself how your negative behavior affects the relationship
When you act out according to jealous feelings, what does it do to your relationship? Do you feel closer to your partner?
Participate in therapy
Jealousy is complex and thus a difficult topic to work through with your partner. So don’t feel discouraged if talking about it didn’t go as smoothly as you hoped. A couples therapist can help you and your partner communicate more effectively and gain trust and understanding.
Why Are You Jealous?
More extreme jealousy is a mix of several negative emotions such as anger, sadness, and fear. And research has found several things we can tie unhealthy jealousy to. These include low self-esteem, high neuroticism, and feeling possessive of others, particularly romantic partners. An insecure attachment style can also make you more likely to experience jealousy in a romantic relationship with fear of abandonment playing a big part.
The level of jealousy we display is largely based on our personality as well as our unique history. Additionally, how we become jealous is dictated by our culture, the social mores, traditions, and expectations.
Jealousy and Fear
Jealousy is rooted in two types of fear:
Fear of relationship ending
A person may be jealous because they’re worried their partner will want to leave them. Therefore they try to keep them close in a way that’s controlling.
Fear that they’re not good enough
A person may be jealous because their insecurities make them feel inferior. Therefore, they’re worried their partner will want to be with someone who is more attractive, intelligent, etc.
It’s fear that pushes a partner to use jealousy to control, criticize, or even abuse. What they really need is to believe that there’s nothing to worry about – their partner will not leave them and that they are good enough. Unfortunately, the opposite is more likely to occur. Their unhealthy jealousy causes their partner to retreat. It’s a negative cycle that will continue to repeat unless changes are made.
Develop Coping Skills
Jealousy is uncomfortable but sweeping it under the rug will only cause it to get worse. The following can help get you manage your jealous feelings:
Challenge your negative thoughts
Your inner monologue plays a big part when it comes to jealousy. You might be bombarded with negative self-talk telling you to act out. Don’t indulge. Learning how to stand up to your inner critic will serve you and your partner well.
Talk it out
If you can’t suppress your jealous feelings, let your partner know about them. Having a conversation is much more constructive than trying to control them or criticizing them.
Remember that jealousy is a feeling
Feelings don’t have to be acted on. Jealousy is self-created. Therefore, suspicions that your partner is cheating doesn’t mean that they are. Try to remain calm and let the feeling pass.
Avoid confirmation bias
If you’ve decided that your partner is being unfaithful, you will look relentlessly for evidence to prove that. You’ll only see the things that add to your narrative and overlook the proof against it.
Focus on your breathing is shown to help feelings of jealousy. Spending even a few minutes with attention on the breath can keep unwanted emotions such as jealousy at bay. Do this by sitting in meditation, taking a mindful walk, or practicing yoga.
Dealing With a Jealous Partner
If it’s your partner who’s demonstrating jealous behavior towards you, there are things you can do to try to get it under control.
Talk to them
If your partner is showing signs of unhealthy jealous behavior, the first thing you can do is address it with them. Make sure you do so in a gentle manner.
Discuss with your partner what is and is not okay. Make expectations clear so that you are both on the same page in terms of the level of control and independence.
Show some compassion
Try to understand that their jealousy comes from anxiety. There’s a good chance that their feelings are because they are hurting inside. Although it isn’t a pass for unhealthy behavior, jealousy is the result of caring about something strongly – you and your relationship. Offer them love and affection.
Understand their triggers
Perhaps you haven’t realized that you bring up your ex or mention something else that sets them off. Maybe you do something that brings up negative memories from their past. Know what their triggers are so that you can work to avoid them.