There are many occasions when a person has developed a jealous habit and sees his or her current relationship through the lens of jealousy.
It seems that no matter how “innocent” this person’s partner is, betrayal or threat is perceived by the jealous person at every turn.
Both the person who is jealous and his or her “wrongly accused” partner are probably feeling pain and confusion.
Disconnection is almost always going on in relationships like these.
But what about those other relationships where one person is behaving in a way that makes it seem like the jealousy his or her partner is feeling is justified?
It might be that the jealous person’s partner has had affairs in the past, is an obvious flirt or simply won’t commit to this relationship and refuses to make any changes to improve connection.
In some ways, it might seem more understandable for the cheater or flirt’s partner to be jealous. After all, many of us might react with jealousy in these conditions.
If you are the person who is jealous in your relationship, you might feel justified in your jealous habit because it seems that your mate “caused” you to be so.
We want to make it clear that we don’t judge anyone for how he or she feels!
Some people are jealous because past relationship pains have not been addressed and healed. This is also understandable. And we certainly feel compassion for those who are jealous in the face of betrayals such as flirting or infidelity
What we do want to do is to address jealousy in all of its forms and whether it appears to be justified or not.
When it comes down to it, whether jealousy is justified or not, it wreaks havoc. Jealousy wreaks havoc on your ability to be close to your partner. And jealousy wreaks havoc internally by feeding low self esteem and eroding trust in yourself.
Karen knows how damaging jealousy is. She feels like it’s eating a hole in her gut every time she feels it– which is more and more frequently. At the same time, Karen feels absolutely justified in being jealous.
Her boyfriend Tom simply cannot be trusted. Karen knows for sure that he’s kissed other women before and she wonders how far these “harmless encounters” (in Tom’s words) have gone. Even when they are out together, Tom continues to flirt and touch other women suggestively right in front of Karen’s eyes.
Set boundaries AND own your jealous habit.
If there are violations of agreements happening in your relationship, by all means, we recommend you take steps to address them. Feel into yourself and get clear about what you want.
Consider the ultimate question of whether you want to continue in this relationship or not. If you are unsure, decide what your bottom line is.
If your partner has had an affair in the past, what do you need to have happen so that trust can begin to rebuild? This might mean you and your mate make an agreement to be transparent with one another, for example.
As justified as you might feel about your jealousy, however, it is important that you acknowledge that this is your habit. Take ownership of how you have learned to react to particular situations or to your partner in general.
This does not mean that you are “to blame” for the distance that’s formed between the two of you.
What it does mean is that your jealousy has most likely played a role in the disconnection. If you want to begin to move closer to your partner, it is vital that you take responsibility for your share of the dynamic.
And even if you decide to leave this relationship, for the sake of your future interactions with others, it is beneficial to own up to the part you played.
Karen really doesn’t like to admit that her jealous habit has played any part in the mess of a relationship she has right now with Tom. It seems clear to her that it’s all his doing with his flirting, kissing and touching other women.
Karen is angry and fed up and she is beginning to wonder why she continues to date Tom at all.
After a deep and calming breath, Karen realizes that she can choose to end her relationship with Tom today. She also feels sad and resistant to this idea.
For right now, she decides to talk with him and to set some boundaries. Karen tells Tom that she would like to know the level of commitment he is willing to make to her and their relationship.
She asks him if he will agree to “no kissing or touching other women in a sexual manner” as part of a monogamy commitment.
Karen also shares with Tom that she is aware of her contribution to the difficulties between them. She acknowledges that she is often jealous. Ultimately, Karen tells Tom she’d like to see if they can each make changes and move closer to one another while building up trust.
Tom asks Karen for some time to think about all that she’s said. He tells her that he appreciates her honesty and her courage to talk about all of this– especially the fact that she didn’t merely blame him for all of their problems.
Tom and Karen agree to talk again the next day.
What’s most important to you?
When you are jealous, you can shift the situation around by asking yourself, “What’s most important right now?”
No matter how justified you feel in your jealousy, a question like this can help you get clear about your next step.
It could be that it is most important to you to be in a relationship where you trust your mate to keep the agreements you’ve made. It could also be most important to you to come together and try to connect and understand your partner.
You get to decide what your priority is.
We suggest that you focus less on how justified you may be in feeling jealous and, instead, focus more on visioning and moving toward the relationship you want.