So imagine this. You’re out to eat with your boyfriend. The two of you are enjoying the spring weather at an outside table, sharing the dessert from one bowl as you gaze into each other’s eyes. You’ve just said something witty and start to laugh, when you realize he isn’t laughing with you. His attention is elsewhere for a second before he turns back to you.
“Hmm?” he asks, realizing that he’d missed something.
He may have missed something, but you sure didn’t. A quick glance over your shoulder and you see exactly what caught his attention – a girl walking by on the street in her little short spring dress, walking her tiny rat of a dog and smiling in the direction of your man.
Jealousy. It’s rampant in relationships. From the tiniest twinge over a night out with the boys leaving you at home alone, to the myriad of texts your girl might be receiving and you have no idea who they’re from. Some experts claim that twinges of jealousy might make things a little more exciting in a relationship. I’m not so sure about that, however. But what I do agree with is that jealousy exists in every relationship out there, whether it’s just the little twinges, to something that is way more consuming and causes loss of sleep (or loss of control over resulting actions…)
So what is jealousy? It’s when the overactive imagination starts playing the “What If” game. What if he is really out with another girl when he’s saying that he has to work late? What if she is thinking of her ex while she’s kissing me? Thing is, the “What If” game is a dangerous pastime, and too much dappling in this game can actually make things happen that may not necessarily happen. Huh? Bear with me here. If you are playing the “What If” game, you are creating a belief in yourself that they are guilty of doing something that you have no proof of (if you do have proof, that’s another story). What used to be a whim in your mind that was along the line of “perhaps” becomes cemented inside of you as gospel truth. With this thought process going on in your mind, you will act differently towards them. Instead of being confident and secure, you become accusatory, jealous, clingy, and insecure. And the funny thing is, they may not have done anything to deserve this treatment.
So how do you overcome the little green-eyed monster that has the ability to eat your soul?
First of all, you need to know yourself. What are your triggers? Does it make you jealous to know that your girl is still friends with her ex? Does it bother you when your man appears to be too friendly with the waitress taking your order? Do you feel a sense of rage when your girlfriend likes to hang out with the guys at work? Is it a certain behavior your SO exhibits around the opposite sex or when another person seems to be checking out your SO? Or is it something that no one is doing but still has you feeling jealousy? Figure out everything that triggers your jealousy, and then WRITE THEM DOWN. Don’t only write them down, but write down WHY they make you jealous.
Next, you need to be open and honest with your SO. Tell him that you are feeling jealous, and share why. Don’t accuse them of doing anything wrong, but explain that these jealous feelings are inside of you and you would like help in conquering them. “I felt really jealous when I heard that you went to coffee with your ex. I know you’re with me, and that if you wanted to be with her, you would be. But I can’t help feeling really put off knowing that you are spending alone time with someone you were once intimate with.” This is a perfect time to share expectations in your relationship. Truth is, this conversation should be had around the time that the two of you first decide to be committed to only each other. But it is never too late to discuss and negotiate ground rules in your commitment that allow the two of you to feel safe and secure. This might mean letting personal history remain untouched until the two of you are more comfortable and secure in your relationship to discuss those kinds of things. Or maybe it’s guidelines for dealing with ex-partners or friends of the opposite sex. Whatever it is, these are things that are important to you or your SO, and must be agreed upon together. There may be some things that you will have to give in a little about, such as deciding that being Facebook friends with an ex is ok, but having lunch with them is not. It’s not your favorite solution, but it’s one you can live with, and so can your SO. Come up with a plan together on ways to avoid these triggers. If her flirtiness is causing jealousy in you, it needs to be addressed. If he is being texted at all times of the day and you are feeling put off, guidelines need to be discussed.
The thing to remember about jealousy is that it more likely than not has something to do with YOU and not with your SO. Perhaps you were abandoned as a child by a parent. Or maybe you’ve been cheated on in the past. Maybe you weren’t included with a group of friends in high school or have been rejected time and again in your life’s opportunities. Being rejected or abandoned or lied to in the past has the capability to leave marks of insecurity lingering in your identity. Your SO doesn’t even have to do anything to have you feeling possessive over them if you have allowed these insecure feelings to take their toll on you. If you are feeling consumed with jealousy to the point of rage or doing something irrational, get help immediately.
If it is your SO that is feeling jealous, be understanding of the situation. Are you doing something that might be provoking his jealousy? Be aware of your actions and change those things that might not be sitting well with your SO. If it’s honestly nothing that you are doing, don’t be afraid to bring it up with them. Ensure your SO of your devotion to him by letting him know you are thinking of him. Perhaps a hidden note in his car, or a random text, or maybe even a spontaneous date that you have set up for the two of you. Take the extra bit of effort to ensure them that you love him and want to be with only him. And while I don’t advocate with supplying your SO with every single second of your day, be transparent with them about what you are up to during the day so that they aren’t left in a dangerous guessing game with your whereabouts. And, of course, if your SO’s behavior is feeling dangerous or overly possessive, it’s time to seek out counseling – or just get the heck out of there. Many cases that involve domestic violence or murder stemmed from feelings of intense jealousy. If your SO has already gone too far in his jealous impulses, please involve the police and LEAVE.
A lot of what I have learned about jealousy shared by several different experts, such as Dr. Pamela Varaday, and by Roger S. Gil, MAFMT, who has an Internet TV show called LuvBuzd.tv. Last year Gil did an amazing talk on jealousy that I want to share with you. The guy is funny, and he’s real. And he has a way with talking about difficult subjects by laying them out in real scenarios and still have you chuckling in the end. Check it out: