Coping with jealousy in relationships
By Traci (Revolution)
Regardless of your particular romantic relationship, from different sexual orientations to having a long-distance relationship, you are bound to deal with jealousy, defined as an uneasiness or suspicion of unfaithfulness. In small amounts, jealousy is healthy, showing a love for that person and desire for mutual love, affection, and commitment. But if jealousy in your relationship is impeding you or your partnerís relationships with others, you or your partnerís life is being monitored, or the suspicion is causing recurring arguments, then this jealousy is hurting your relationship. Relationships are built on trust and communication, and failure to implement these can cause one to push that love away.
If you are being jealous:
Figure out where this jealousy is stemming from.
Think about where these feelings might be coming from. There is a reason that you are jealous in this relationship, and often times, it has nothing to do with your partner. If your current partner cheated, holding a grudge over a mistake will only hurt you and your relationship. You need to forgive the person; if you cannot trust them, then why do you still want to be with them? If you had been cheated on in a past relationship, remind yourself that this is not the same relationship, and that you need to fill this new relationship with trust regardless of any past hurts that may have happened. And if you cheated in the past, this is a good time to forgive yourself. You made a mistake, but you need to realize that not everybody is going to make that same mistake. Talk to your partner about these feelings, allow them to reassure you that they love and respect you, and work on new feelings of trust.
Have respect and trust your partner.
Think about the reasons you are with this person, and the affection you have toward them. Think about how your jealousy could be affecting their feelings toward you, their trust in you, and their self-worth. Remind yourself that this jealousy could really be harming the person as well as your relationship, and dedicate yourself to begin improving your trust in that person.
Communicate your feelings in a healthy way.
Donít hold your feelings in, but do not make unnecessary accusations. Use what is called "I-language." "I-language" is a way of communicating that expresses your exact feelings, not the feelings of the other person, and not actions that you do not know are happening.
Bad communication: "Why do you always go to lunch with that coworker? Theyíre super-hot, and always flirting with you, are you cheating on me?"
"I-language": "When you go out for lunch with your coworker, I feel uneasy and unloved."
By doing this, you communicate how you feel without making your partner feel attacked, or making uneducated accusations. You and your partner will be able to better communicate how you are each feeling, and be able to make the proper changes to your behavior.
Work on your self-esteem.
In times where you are not feeling good enough, and feeling like your partner will cheat because of you, remember that they did pick you for a reason. You deserve to be with them. They love you, and they have no intent to harm you. Work on your own self-esteem. This could start by smiling at yourself in the mirror, or listing all of your good qualities, physical or personality. You may want to consider seeing a counselor or therapist, but work on your own feelings toward yourself because whether or not you are with this person in five years, you will be with yourself for the rest of your life.
You have power over how you react.
You do not have power over your partner or what they do. They could cheat or look at another person, but you have power over how you react over it. You can start a fight, or you can bring it up in a calm discussion. You can let it harm your self-esteem, or you can laugh about it. Remember, you are the only one who can control your emotions, and your reaction can be the difference between a break-up and a simple discussion about a misunderstanding. Itís up to you.
If your partner is being jealous:
Reassure them that there is no danger.
Let your partner know the truth behind their feelings, but this does not mean saying ďItís fine, itís all in your head.Ē Be willing to listen, and be specific in your answer. For example, if your partner is jealous about somebody from your work, let them know your true feelings for that person, such as ďYes, I like them a lot, but we are just friends. We enjoy getting lunch together because we both like going to Burger King.Ē This communicates the entirety of the relationship rather than being withdrawn, causing more reason for suspicion.
Work on the problem together.
Jealousy is the responsibility of the jealous person; however, that does not mean itís something they have to cope with alone. Be there for your partner, and show them that you care about them and their feelings. Let them know that you are there for them and will listen to their concerns, and help them feel better about their issues within your relationship and issues within themselves. As stated earlier, showing a willingness to communicate shows you have nothing to hide, and makes your partner feel more comfortable and more inclined to open up with you.
Love and respect them.
Because lack of confidence is a common reason for jealousy, do your best to improve the confidence of your partner. You do not have complete control over their feelings, but you can do your best to make them feel good. Spend more time with them, and make sure that you are doing all in your power to make them feel loved and respected.
Do not make them feel ashamed or guilty.
It is very easy to feel defensive when being accused of doing something youíre not, but try your best to not come across as angry. Shaming the person or making them feel wrong for their own feelings will only worsen your relationship; rather, you should do your best to listen, and communicate your own feelings as well. Use "I-language." For example:
Bad communication: "Iím so tired of you accusing me of being with that person! Where would you get that idea? God, you make me feel like crap!"
"I-language": "When you accuse me of being with that person, it really upsets me and makes me feel like you do not trust me."
Communicating your own feelings can help strengthen your relationship, build trust, and make them feel open talking to you as well.
Try to empathize with behavior.
Analyze the situation, and try to empathize with how they may feel. For example, if they are worried about you going to lunch with somebody from work every day, think about how you would feel if they were doing that same action. Although you may not feel jealous, understand where they might be coming from, and let them know that while you understand their reason for concern, that it is not the case in this relationship.
Negotiate a plan of action.
Talk to your partner about ways you can both lessen the tension and make everybody happy, and be willing to compromise. For the lunch example, perhaps offer to bring another person to lunch as well, go less often, or invite your partner to lunch as well. Give them ideas of ways to work on their self-esteem, such as being willing to see a counselor with them, and try to plan more time together so there is less time to worry.
Is this jealous relationship dangerous?
Jealousy can not only ruin relationships, but can also be a danger sign of an abusive relationship. It is one thing to have your partner be questioning who you were with last night, but it is another when your partner cannot be reassured and becomes angry and oppressive. This type of behavior is emotionally abusive, and no matter how much they justify it with love and protection, it is their fault and their fault only. If your partner is becoming controlling about who you are with, intimidating you to the point of isolation and threatening you, this is not a healthy relationship, and you need to find a way out. This could include breaking up, or in more serious cases where your well-being is at stake, calling the authorities. For more information and resources about abusive relationships, check out our articles "Recognizing signs of an abusive relationship" and "Protecting yourself from abusive individuals."
Jealousy does not have to take over your relationship. You have the choice about how you will react, and how you will personally fight your own feelings of jealousy, or how you will react when somebody you care about is feeling jealous. By communicating properly with your partner and improving your own self-esteem, you can be one step closer to a happier, trusting relationship without that green-eyed monster!