How to Keep Jealousy from Destroying Your Relationship
Jealousy has often been called the green-eyed monster, and with good reason. The monster is fueled by envy and can over time devour the trust and harmony in a relationship.
According to B.C. Forbes, Jealousy…is a mental cancer. It spreads quickly and can be fatal to a relationship. Once it gets a foothold, the jealous partner becomes even more jealous, often over insignificant things.
When we’re jealous, we’re in a state of dissatisfaction with ourselves. Jealousy brings out the worst in us and causes us to resent someone else for having what we think we don’t have—looks, charm, money, prestige, romance, charisma, success. When we’re jealous, whatever measuring stick we use makes us feel lacking and less than.
Fear is also involved when we feel jealous—fear that we’ll never have what the other person has, fear that we’re not as good as someone else, fear of losing our partner to another, fear that we’re not attractive or desired, and fear of being ridiculed. When we’re jealous, we feel insecure and lack self-esteem.
A counseling client once shared that he was being torn apart by jealousy. Whenever his wife was even a few minutes late, he visualized her stopping to flirt with someone in the grocery store or became convinced that she was using the time to secretly call another man.
His rational mind knew that there was nothing to base these anxieties on, but he was unable to stop his worst scenario fantasies. Ironically, his jealousy had become so unbearable for his wife that she did eventually turn her affections toward someone else. The client’s inability to control his jealousy brought about the very thing he was afraid would happen.
For a relationship to be healthy, there has to be trust, and jealousy undermines that trust. The following seven tips will help you keep jealousy from undermining your relationship with your mate:
1. When you first notice that you’re feeling jealous, immediately try to identify what insecurity or fear is being triggered. Is it a fear of abandonment? A fear that you don’t measure up? When insecurities or fears are activated, you’re more likely to overreact in a way that could hurt your relationship.
2. Instead of focusing on the behavior that you want your partner to stop so that you won’t feel the uncomfortable pangs of jealousy, examine your self-talk. Are you telling yourself, My mate shouldn’t be flirting with him like that? You can change how you feel by changing what you tell yourself about the situation.
3. Take a close look at your past history. Did one of your parents cheat on the other one? Or did you cheat on a partner in the past? If so, it is likely that you are projecting your past experiences and feelings on to your present partner. Try to keep the past separate from the present.
4. Do a reality check. Instead of getting upset about the future scenario your mind has jumped to, list what exact behaviors you’re upset about. Your list might read, My partner talked to a handsome bachelor when we were at our friend’s party. She smiled, laughed, and looked like she was having a good time. Remind yourself that this is not unusual party behavior.
5. Stay rooted in the present moment, and reel in your imagination. You don’t want to damage your relationship by accusing your mate of something he or she didn’t do. Besides harming the trust and harmony of your relationship, if you routinely accuse your partner of imaginary transgressions, you could end up pushing him or her into the very behavior you’re zeroing in on.
6. Think before you speak. Notice the difference in the two following approaches: A) I felt neglected last night at the party when you never spent any time with me. I was starting to feel jealous, and I don’t like that feeling. I need to talk with you about this. or B) I am so sick of you always flirting with every man in sight when we go to a party. People are going to think you’re nothing but a tramp. Think about which approach will be most likely to result in a meaningful discussion.
7. Remind yourself that your partner has chosen to be with you, so he or she finds you and your qualities attractive. Also remember that confidence and self-respect is attractive to others. When you throw a jealous fit, you appear insecure and needy. If you feel yourself being ambushed by jealousy, excuse yourself for a few minutes and take several deep breaths to re-center yourself.