by Andrea M. Darcy
Dealing with the ‘green-eyed monster’ lately? You’re not alone. Jealousy in relationships is common.
Why does jealousy in relationships happen?
Yes, jealous feelings are often triggered by real situations. Partners do cheat sometimes, or prioritise work, or otherwise leave us feeling overlooked. Jealousy happens as we need to talk and sort things out.
But if you are constantly jealous in relationships, the roots of jealousy will lie in how you feel about yourself.
When we feel happy and secure, we are unlikely to experience jealous feelings over mere suspicions. But when we feel vulnerable, or less than? It becomes harder to trust that your relationships will thrive and that your partner will not abandon you.
This means that jealousy can particularly be a problem if we:
Are you more jealous than you let on?
We can feel ashamed to admit we are the jealous type. But telltale signs it’s our issue can include:
Are we becoming more jealous in general?
The rise of social media and online communication has certainly changed the way in which we can relate to our partners. We can more easily spy on them, and be in constant contact.
A research study showed, for example, that the ambiguity of communication through Facebook can create apparent threats to a relationship where there really are none at all. Participants were asked to envision a hypothetical situation, such as discovering a message in their partner’s inbox from a person that reads “What are you up to later?”.
A significant number reported feelings of suspicion and jealousy, with women reporting higher levels than men. But when a winking emoticon was added to the innocuous message, it was the male participants who reported stronger feelings of jealousy.
Is jealousy a necessary part of love?
It’s not necessary, but nor is it something to be ashamed of, as it happens to the best of us. Sometimes it’s a sign that something really isn’t right in your relationship and needs addressing. Or even that it’s time to leave the relationship.
Other times, again, it’s often more related to unresolved issues from the past than meaning there is something wrong with you. In this way jealousy can be seen as a sign it’s time to commit to some work on yourself.
What about using jealousy to inject a sense of passion, and make things feel exciting and fun? Yes, having a partner who feels jealous of our interactions with other people can also remind us that we are attractive and wanted. But seeking out jealousy in endless games of power is not the base for a healthy relationship. It leads you away from authenticity and trust.
How to deal with jealous feelings? 5 tips
If you’ve been experiencing persistent jealous feelings, don’t panic. There are several ways to tackle them.
1. Pay attention to what’s going on in your life.
Jealous feelings can actually be a way of distracting ourselves from other issues. It’s easier to blame our relationship or put our feelings of stress and low self-esteem onto our partner than, say, admit we worry we are about to be fired from our job.
Has anything happened recently to cause you to feel less than confident? Work stress, family matters and physical illnesses can all contribute to feeling insecure about relationships.
It might help to write down everything which is currently causing you stress before you focus in on your relationship as being the cause of your feelings.
2. Ask what the jealousy has to teach you.
“Jealousy is a motive of immense potency…. what you really value in life is more often revealed by asking yourself who you are jealous of rather than asking yourself directly ‘what do I value’. “
When we are jealous it’s because something we deeply value is being triggered. Jealousy gives us a moment to look at what our deeply held values are, and how we have made life choices that might align with them. If your jealousy is showing you that you value honesty and authenticity, then why, for example, do you constantly choose partners who keep secrets? Is it time to get clear on your values with yourself, and with your partner? And see where your values do or don’t align?
Also note if the characteristics that you attribute to the person you are jealous of are characteristics you wish you had yourself. Do you wish you were more charismatic? Liked at work? Able to chat up strangers? If you can recognise this you can begin to work towards attaining the attribute yourself instead of following the jealousy.
3. Don’t give in to destructive behaviour inspired by jealousy.
Remember that the only solution to jealous feelings is safe and open communication. There is no other way to soothe your fears, rational or irrational.
If you feel the urge to check your partner’s texts or otherwise invade their privacy, try to see this as a sign that you need to talk with them, rather than an impulse you must act upon.
4. Be honest about your past or your emotional issues.
Is the hard truth that you are always jealous and insecure in relationships? That something about intimacy just turns you into a panicked or even mean person, always on edge? Or that you constantly get jealous and afraid of rejection, then push-pull people?
Not just your issue but the relationship itself? Sometimes there is nothing better then a third party to help you and your partner communicate how you really feel. Couples therapy helps you sort out what’s really going on, versus living by your worries and fears about what the other is thinking and feeling.
Time to stop drowning in jealousy and have healthy sane relationships? Or take the relationship you have more seriously? We connect you with some of London’s most highly rated therapists for relating issues and couples therapists. Or you can try our therapy listings site where UK-wide therapists advertise their services and are ranked by users.
Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert and writer who has written hundreds of popular articles about relationships. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy.