Jealousy is a confusing emotion, but it’s also a super common experience. If you enter into a relationship with someone you love, you risk feeling jealous at some point.
We often feel compelled to stuff jealous feelings down since it’s a form of insecurity, yet burying it isn’t an effective way to deal with jealousy. It’s bound to resurface at some point. The truth is that overcoming jealousy isn’t a one-person job. Facing this emotion with your partner can lead to growth as a couple. So, below are some tips on healthy ways to manage jealousy in your relationship.
When Jealousy Arises
Sometimes, we experience jealousy when it’s reasonable to do so: when our partner flirts with someone or if our partner has cheated. But often, we also feel jealousy when it’s “unreasonable.” However, even when emotions are not necessarily rational, it’s helpful to face them as a couple. Avoiding the tendency to blame one partner can help you move through jealousy as a couple. So, don’t say anything like, “you made me jealous,” or “you shouldn’t be so insecure.”
To grow as a couple, you have to address jealousy together. You can’t have someone walking on eggshells to ensure that nothing could ever make their partner jealous while the other person doesn’t work on their feelings of insecurity. It needs to be an equal effort.
Communicating Through Jealousy
Telling someone that you feel jealous is a vulnerable thing to do. You are admitting self-doubt, which isn’t an empowering emotion, and it’s much easier to brush it off or ignore it. This uncomfortable vulnerability is why it is easier to translate this emotion into anger toward your partner than to be self-reflective. But you can both experience transformation, especially if the offending partner recognizes that they overstepped their bounds and makes a heartfelt apology with a commitment to doing better in the future.
It’s much more complex when two partners don’t agree on where the boundaries are for flirtation and interactions. Sometimes, when a partner says, “I’m feeling jealous,” the other partner doesn’t respond with an apology. They might instead believe that they haven’t done anything wrong. These complications are more difficult to deal with because they aren’t as cut and dried, but it’s crucial to talk about it so that couples can set clear boundaries for future interactions.
Steps to Take When You’re Feeling Jealous
Unfortunately, jealousy can quickly turn into a spiral. Before jealousy leads to a fight, it can be helpful to interrupt your thought patterns by looking inward to see why these jealous feelings are arising. Here are some things you can do if you believe that your jealousy wasn’t necessarily caused by your partner’s actions.
First, describe the situation from an outsider’s perspective. Viewing the situation from someone else’s point of view can help give you some space from the reactive emotions jealousy brings up. Ask yourself if your partner truly doing something out of line.
Next, try to understand if you’ve made assumptions rather than looking at the reality of what happened. Then, label the emotions that you feel about your partner and yourself when you experience jealousy. And finally, think of whether this situation parallels anything in your past. Past experiences with jealousy can resurface and make the current situation feel worse, so it is important to examine what other factors from your life are influencing your current emotions.
Reassuring a Jealous Partner
In some cases, you may need to reassure a jealous partner even if you didn’t make them jealous. Jealousy can arise from feeling a lack of connection in the relationship, so sometimes going out of your way to do things that help you feel connected to each other can help restore a sense of faith in your relationship.
If you’re having trouble moving past jealousy in your relationship, working with a therapist can help you move toward restored relationship health. Contact me for a free consultation today!
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to download the 101 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Hot checklist.