What do you tell yourself when you feel jealous?
“Everybody gets jealous.”
“A ‘little’ jealousy is good for my relationship.”
“I’ve got this jealousy thing under control.”
“Jealousy only shows my partner how much I care.”
“Jealousy really isn’t so terrible!”
You try to convince yourself that the worried, angry, insecure and upset way you feel isn’t that bad after all. You rationalize that it’s natural and normal or that you’ve not got a problem with jealousy.
You try to wish your jealousy away and hope everything will be magically wonderful in your relationship and life…but it doesn’t work.
No matter how adamantly you reassure yourself, it doesn’t tame the jealous “beast” that’s rearing up inside. You can’t make jealousy disappear by diminishing it. What usually happens is you go deeper into whatever reaction you’re having– the beast gets bigger and even more difficult to handle.
Your partner gets even more frustrated than he or she was before and you two end up farther apart than you were.
Rebecca has had the same argument with her boyfriend Jeff over and over again. He gets angry with her for questioning him every time they’ve been away from each other. According to Jeff, it’s the same routine where she’s grilling him and sometimes even accusing him of things he didn’t do. Rebecca claims that she’s just “curious” about what he’s been up to. She won’t admit that she’s jealous because she’s embarrassed and she believes she’s got it under control. “I don’t check your phone and I don’t follow you around!” she defends. But Jeff is getting tired of being interrogated and is really turned off by it. He doesn’t want to break up with Rebecca, but he also doesn’t think he can handle her jealousy for much longer.
Be honest with yourself.Are you, like Rebecca, fooling yourself? Does your partner call you “jealous” or do you consider yourself “jealous” but you don’t want to admit it? If so, it’s time for some honesty.
Take a look at your usual behavior and own up to it if you are frequently jealous.
Do this first with yourself. It’s important for you to recognize what you do and to do so with as much objectivity as you can. What happens when your partner talks to or spends time with others? How trusting are you with the one you love? To what extent do you react to worries you have instead of responding to what the facts of a situation are?
These questions can help you see the ways you are jealous and also the extent of your jealousy. Keep breathing as you answer these questions for yourself. It is uncomfortable to admit to a problem, but this is a vital part of making a powerful and positive change in your life.
Be honest with yourself about what jealousy is doing to your relationship. More than likely, it’s causing stress, strain, distance and conflict. Even if you mostly keep your jealousy to yourself, it’s not healthy for you or your relationship.
Find out what’s behind your jealousy.
After honesty, get curious. It won’t help you feel less jealous if you criticize or beat up on yourself. Try to understand what triggers your jealousy and what beliefs or memories of the past are keeping you stuck in this destructive habit.
Remember that identifying what makes you jealous and which of your past experiences contribute to your jealousy is not about pushing blame on another person. This does show you where the healing needs to happen and in what situations you’ll need to be extra gentle with yourself.
When communicating with your partner, use words like, “I realize I get jealous when ____. Are you willing to help me with _____?” Ask for specific forms of support like a hug, loving words, eye contact or just listening. It’s not your partner’s job to “fix” your jealousy for you, but you can reach out and get the kind of support you need while you calm yourself down.
Make 1 doable change.
Take what you learn about your jealousy habit and come up with an action plan– start out significant yet doable. Choose 1 way that you could respond differently when you get triggered. Write it down on a piece of paper and tell your partner your plan if that would help you.
The change you decide to make may be an obvious action or it could be a more subtle and internal shift. When a particularly worrisome thought comes to mind about your partner or relationship, promise yourself that you’ll interrupt that thought with a different thought. Use words like, “Do I really know that’s true?”
Every seemingly “little” step you take to do things differently will help you gradually overcome jealousy. One day, your jealousy truly will be no big deal and your relationship will thrive because of it.