How To Deal with a Jealous Partner

Love is the Meaning of Life

Love and relationships are probably the most important and unique aspects of human existence. Almost everything we do, we do in order to secure and stabilize our relationships. Thus, when we feel threatened in our relationships we end up jealous, insecure, upset, and just a little crazy. This is because our bodies know just as well as our hearts and minds that everything depends on our relationships, from our own personal fulfillment to the survival of the species, and responds accordingly.

That said, it's no fun to be on either end of jealousy. We hurt, the people involved with us hurt, and all around things get miserable. How to deal with such a thing?

Identify the Cause

Understanding why we or our partners are jealous goes a long way towards dealing with jealousy. While people and situations are unique, there are certain themes to jealousy, and if we can understand the theme we can start to figure out how to cope.

  1. Insecurity: You or your partner has an experience or starts thinking about issues that feel threatening to the relationship as a whole. This can result in neediness followed by emotional attacks and outbursts when the person who is feeling insecure feels their needs aren't being addressed.
  2. Inadequacy: You or your partner feels like they don't measure up in some way. This can be sexual, emotional, intellectual, financial...essentially any of the ways we tend to compare ourselves to each other and make judgments.
  3. Possessiveness: However immature it may be, we sometime like to feel as though our partners are our property. We think of them as "ours" and when we feel that someone or something is trespassing on "our" territory, we get upset.

Once we know what theme we or our partner are in, we can address the issues.

Be Honest

Sometimes, however nasty jealousy can be, it's justified. In order to deal with jealousy, you need to take a real hard look at the situation and ask yourself if the facts actually justify the feelings. If your relationship is unstable, if you are treating them like they don't measure up in comparison to someone else, then you need to ask yourself why. It might be that your relationship really needs some extra work or that you have been less than honorable. If this is so then those issues need to be addressed. After identifying the theme and cause of jealousy, you need to ask whether that jealousy is actually rational, and if so address those causes.

Be Real

That said, it is also true that people get jealous for irrational reasons or no reason at all. Feelings of insecurity or inadequacy are very strong and keyed into our survival instincts. Once they get set off, we feel like the sky is falling, and it can be very hard to control those feelings.

Solving the Problem

Now that the problems have been identified, they need to be dealt with. This can be accomplished by the following, though this is just one method:

  1. Set up a safe time and space to discuss the issues with your partner. A private, unthreatening, and neutral space like the living room is a good place to start. Set aside plenty of time so that neither of you feel pressured. Be aware that there may be long periods of silence where one or the other of you is trying to figure out how to talk about some very difficult feelings.
  2. Bring up the jealousy and the effects it has had. Address the theme or themes and the events and thoughts that led to them. Remember that feelings are not rational nor do they respond to argument. It is not necessary to justify feelings, and it is unfair for us to demand that other people justify their emotions.
  3. If the issue is insecurity, brainstorm together about what can be done to make both of you feel like your relationship is secure. When you come up with things you can both agree with, implement them. These things can be purely symbolic and emotional, and this makes sense. In reality, no relationship is any more secure than the people involved feel it is. Life can throw us a lot of curveballs, but as long as we feel secure in our relationships, we are secure in our relationships.
  4. If the issue is inadequacy, address the things you are doing that make the other person feel inadequate. If you are always insulting them or treating them like they aren't very important to you, then you need to change what you are doing. Sometimes, they may even think things are important to you that aren't, and may feel inadequate about something you don't care about. Communication and honesty about expectations combined with an honest look at the messages we send each other with our actions can make sure we feel adequate, wanted, and loved.
  5. If the issue is possessiveness, then you need to look at how you are both behaving that helps contribute to an attitude of "ownership" towards the other person. No one owns anyone else, and that means that people's interest, time, and energy is their own. As children we are taught to share the toys and that we aren't the center of the universe, but then we spend our adolescence and adulthood acting as if the one place we still get to act like babies is in our relationships, the place we need to be more mature than any other. If you or your partner is flipping out because life exists beyond your relationship, then someone has some growing up to do.
  6. Once you have figured out where the issues are and where they can be addressed, make a commitment to follow through on what you have decided and set a time to meet up in a couple weeks and see how it is working.

Tips for Keeping Things Sane

  1. Sit beside each other facing the same direction. This avoids an atmosphere of battle.
  2. Hold hands or cuddle a bit while discussing things that make you upset. It is very hard to feel angry or threatened when our body is receiving the message that we are loved and safe.
  3. Avoid language that is unfair, exaggerates, or reinforces attitudes of ownership. Eventually both of you can edit such language out of your speech. You will be amazed at how much how we talk to each other will affect how we feel about each other.

Conclusion

Jealousy is no fun for anyone in the situation. No one likes to feel insecure or inadequate. The good news is that some agreements and work can go a long way towards insuring that no one has to feel this way. Good luck!

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Comments 9 comments

BabyElmo profile image

BabyElmo 8 years ago from Singapore

Hey, thanks for a very detailed response. Very good post.


sapphire cups 6 years ago

Hmmm, to me this sounds very text book and fluffy.

Jealousy can be a very ugly emotion and quite often, through a variety of fears its impossible to talk to a jealous partner without walking on eggshells and sometimes impossible to deal with in a normal way if the jealous rages are from a narcissist.( - incidently I typed in 'divining for a curse' and found you and then read this out of interest.) Its a good post. My question is this.. Is mankind jealous of his/her partner because we were programed to 'mate for life'..sort of like swans maybe.. what do you think?


Earthsong profile image

Earthsong 5 years ago from Hertfordshire, UK

I think the problem can arise when someone gets their sense of identity from being in a relationship. "I am so-and-so's partner. I am nothing when alone.' We probably all need to live alone for at least a year of our lives to realise that we can be happy and self-reliant. What do you think?


blake4d profile image

blake4d 4 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

I am jealous that I did not think of writing a hub like this first. LMAO

That one is just to make you laught there Mr. thePuck!!! Great read, love all your hubs. Keep on keeping on. And of course, Keep on Hubbing. Blake4d


thePuck profile image

thePuck 4 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

Wow...I haven't been getting notifications on this article until Blake's. Sorry, people.

sapphire cups: I do believe we are programmed by our culture to be monogamous, and I also believe that we are never taught to "not get our way" and "share" when it comes to romance and relationships. When we are children, we get pissed off and throw tantrums when other kids don't do what we say, when we're forced to share the toys, etc. As we grow up, we learn to deal with such feelings and accept that they are just a part of life (although some people never learn to cope and become entitled bullies). With jealousy and monogamy, people never learn not to expect to own their partner never learn not to throw temper tantrums. If we made clear from childhood that jealousy is childish and an attempt to control others, we would most likely be able to deal better with it as adults.

Earthsong: I agree that many people end up unable to feel secure in their relationships because they don't have a developed sense of self separate from the relationship. This ends up being an issue of codependency more than jealousy, however, and at least acknowledges the autonomy and individuality of the other person; jealousy acts like they are property.

Blake: Thanks again for your kind words. I do my best.


Aluta 4 years ago

Good job @ thePuck...I like reading your stuff. Always enlightening!!!

My question to you what then is your take on people that swing as well as the "swinging enviroment" as a whole?

I am reacting to where you wrote "I do believe we are programmed by our culture to be monogamous". Are you then implying that if we had been programmed by our culture to be polygamous, then jealousy wouldn't exist in relationships? Hence my question on your personal take on couples that swing with other partners...


thePuck profile image

thePuck 4 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

Aluta,

Let's make clear, polygamy is multiple wives, polyandry is multiple husbands, polyamory is both partners free to pursue other relationships honestly and responsibly (ideally). I'm only talking about polyamory.

I believe that jealousy is a behavioral, emotional, and mental complex that involves various factors.

1. There is a definitive personality type that tends to react to threats to the ego a lot more than other people, and won't even accept the notion that they shouldn't be the center of their partner's universe, regardless of reasoning or what their partner wants. Before I become poly, I dated and lived with a girl who regularly cheated on her boyfriends, but wouldn't even consider being poly. This personality type most likely would manifest in some new form in a poly culture...they would be extra demanding.

2. Cultural training definitely plays a part. Every love story out there assumes monogamy, and many of them use cheating or the possibility of cheating as a conflict-creator, rather than simply introducing more situations. People assume monogamy, at all levels of your life, and I have had partners approached by near strangers intent on "telling" on me, while I have been approached by strangers for the same reason. The reactions by most people when discussing polyamory also assumes monogamy is the norm and assumes that people will be jealous. What's more, jealousy is assumed to be acceptable, so long as it does not become "abusive". Of course, I would consider any attempt to emotionally punish or blackmail people for not governing their behaviors by my whim to be "abuse".

3. Evolutionary psychology argues that females are suited by evolution to be monogamous because it serves their reproductive purposes to be provided for and protected while she is pregnant and during the early childhood of the children. It also argues that men are similarly predisposed to having multiple partners, in an effort to spread their genes to as many possible partners as possible.

I suppose that's possible. I don't really care; evolutionary traits good for the species at the dawn of our species aren't necessarily useful now. I'm also an antinatalist, which means that I believe we should cease, as a species, having children and allow sentient, suffering life to go extinct. My wife and I don't plan on having children, obviously, so it's not an issue to us.

However, since my health and psychological issues took their turn for the horrible, as did my wife's, to a lesser degree, we are for all intents and purposes monogamous.

I believe that humans are predisposed to be greedy, self-involved creatures who don't want to share, love being the center of attention, and generally will use violence, on scales ranging from the emotional and verbal to the physical, to get what they want. These traits lead to suffering, and thus should not be encouraged. Thus, you should learn to share your lovers as you learned to share the toys as a child. Sure, people throw a fit at first, just like little kids, but eventually they become emotionally mature about that issue and move on with their lives.

Thanks for reading.


blake4d profile image

blake4d 4 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

Well said thePuck. Keep on Hubbing. Blake4d


thePuck profile image

thePuck 4 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

Thank you, sir.

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