5 ways to deal with jealousy within your relationship
We’re jealous in romantic relationships for endless reasons relating to our experiences, our dispositions, and our desires- and I don’t believe it helps to analyze them endlessly or hate on ourselves just because we feel like we should be “better than that.” Because feeling it may actually reflect your higher values of commitment, monogamy, love, honesty, and sincerity. And let’s not forget: jealousy is not inherently unfounded. Sometimes that shit is hella founded. But the fact is, jealousy rears its head in monogamous, open, and open-ish relationships alike. The problem is not the feeling, but how much we let the feeling overtake us, and how we react. Because when it overtakes, make no mistake: it can crush whole empires with its scaly green foot.
Fact: relationships end because of jealousy. Some people literally murder other people because they’re jealous. When we’re jealous, we worry that our partner might reject us or abandon us for someone they think is better. Worry is the key theme here—I should know. I’ve had to contend with seemingly unsurmountable jealous anxiety in most of my relationships, but am working to better my reactions to the feeling, regardless of what real or fantastical threats may exist. Because that’s just it. When we’re jealous, we feel threatened and insecure. And jealousy is a way to cope with this perceived threat.
Illogical as it is, you may believe your jealousy is preventative: it’ll keep you from being surprised, help you defend yourself, and force your partner to give up their other (potential) love interests. You may believe jealousy can help you understand your partner’s true feelings. Or you may even be using it as a way to justify leaving them so you can protect yourself from future hurt. The mind is a very powerful thing. The question is: if jealousy is a coping strategy, how do we cope with the coping strategy itself?
1. Ask yourself why you’re jealous
Get to the root of your feelings. It’s hard- but do it. The way you react to things has been programmed into your brain and body over time—both in childhood and adulthood. Maybe you’ve been cheated on before. Maybe your dad cheated on your mom. Or maybe you're a bit of a player yourself, so you assume your partner’s thoughts must reach the seedy levels yours do at times. We’re damn good at tricking ourselves. Maybe you're not used to being with a person who's always around friends of the gender they’re attracted to. I once dated a guy who only had hot woman friends—no guy friends in sight. Challenging. Or maybe details you wish you didn’t know about your love’s past are tormenting your wild imagination. Whatever the reason, you can't temper your jealousy until you first figure out where it’s coming from.
2. Face it head-on
If you’re convinced that every second your guy or gal spends away from you is a flirt-fest of betrayals (or worse), go out with your counterpart and see how they really interact with the world. Meet and connect with their friends, both guys and gals alike. Get a feel for who they hang out with, and who they really are. If they still hang out with an ex or exes, meet them yourself. Experience the vibes for yourself. There’s no better way to tame a beastly imagination than to encounter all the stars of your in-brain movie in real life. The cold hard facts will keep you grounded.
3. Talk about how you feel
Sometimes (and only you can be the judge), it just makes sense to do the unthinkable and (gasp) talk to him about it. I’m of the opinion that if you can’t feel safe talking to someone frankly, it may be best to reevaluate the relationship. But that is another discussion, alas. Express how you've been feeling and how you feel it's affecting the relationship, straight up. He'll do his best to reassure you there's nothing to worry about—or he won’t, depending on who you’re with; let’s be real. But at least you’ll have put it out there. And there’s a lot to be said for being honest, making yourself vulnerable, and putting it out there. If there's any incident or point in time that has you particularly concerned, ask about it. More likely than not there's an explanation you didn't consider because your dreams were mean and green and all-consuming.
4. Accept some uncertainty
Uncertainty is a part of every relationship. Indeed, whether you wanna see it or not, a little bit of uncertainty and mystery is where a lot of the hotness, tension, and fire often comes in. The truth is, you really can’t control anyone’s thoughts, feelings, or actions but your own. Don’t roll your eyes, because it’s true, gosh dammit. Reality check: if someone is going to cheat on you or betray you in any way, they’re gong to do so regardless of how much you let your jealousy destroy you, and your jealousy might simply push them away faster. Tell yourself that you don’t need this emotion in your life and the suffering and self-loathing that it brings. What you do deserve is a relationship you feel great to be a part of.
5. Find support
If all else fails, and you feel like jealousy is choking you and your relationship to death, and you know it’s unfounded but you can’t help but go there (been there), there’s no shame in seeking professional help. Now this can look different for everyone. Maybe talk therapy jives with you. Maybe you do a little acupuncture for anxiety. Maybe you find a shaman, or an exorcist, or an incredible yoga teacher. Or maybe you find support in reacquainting yourself with yourself, with all the things you love about you when you’re not consumed by jealousy: go out with friends more, focus on you. Imagine the worst case scenario (losing your love to someone else), and try to envision a future version of you that is OK with that, or even more than OK—thriving. This is a highly useful exercise because it can recalibrate your whole system if done right and remind you that you’re the prize to be lost, and no one does you a favour by being with you. They choose you because you’re seriously fucking worth it.
Image Source: Dot Pigeon