Practical Ways to Handle Jealousy in a Relationship
Jealousy in a Relationship
If you are in a dating relationship or a love relationship, it is natural to feel jealous at times. Especially if you have strong feelings for your partner. The feeling of jealousy comes as a result of our love for them, the intimacy we share, and the important role we play in each other’s lives. Hence it is a natural feeling and an inevitable emotion that pretty much every one of us will experience but the problem with jealousy isn’t that it comes up from time to time, but what it does to us when we don’t get a hold of it.
This is to say that, when we allow our jealousy to overpower us or to shape the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us, it can start to feel like a toxic trait that we might need to pay more attention to so that it doesn’t cause destruction and serve as a poison in our intimate relationships.
Practical Ways to Handle Jealousy in a Relationship
Feelings of jealousy are often related to a sense of inadequacy, low self-esteem, insecurity, and anxiety. They can be deeply rooted and difficult to overcome. In addition to this, when you are overly jealous in a relationship, it doesn’t only show how insecure you are but it also shows that you do not trust your partner and what is a relationship without trust? You absolutely don't need an expert to tell you that relationships go smoother when people don’t get overly jealous. Therefore understanding where our jealous feelings actually come from and learning how to deal with jealousy in a healthy and adaptive way is key to our interpersonal relationships and to other areas of our life.
In this article, we talk about the practical steps that you can take to handle jealousy when it becomes more frequent, intense and overwhelming that it starts to mess with your head.
1. Calm Down and Do Not Act on Your Feelings Immediately
For those of us familiar with how jealousy works, we know that all too often, these thoughts will slowly start to sprout and blossom into much larger, more engrained attacks on ourselves and/or our partner. This is to say that, as simple as calm down and do not act on your feelings immediately sound, you know that it would take all the energy in you to do this, you also know that it is hard to not act the way you feel, it is hard but it is doable. Yes, it is not easy, but you need to be willing to calm down and not act on your feelings at the moment you feel the churning uproar of jealousy.
At this point, it is vital to note that the feeling of jealousy or any other feelings is not the problem, the real trouble starts when you act on it and you let the feeling of jealousy consume you, which is when it becomes an issue. It’s okay to feel this way but do not act on it. If you can achieve this, you are on your way to finally learn how to handle jealousy mainly because this can be the most difficult step for some people to take.
Remember that your partner is a human being that is actively interacting with the world around him/her. That world contains people of gender that they sexually prefer but that does not mean that they will cheat on you with them. There is a reason why they are in a relationship with you and there is a reason why you are in love with them and in a relationship with them as well. If they wanted to date other people, they would have done so.
Therefore, calm down and do not take any drastic step that would cause you to lose them forever. The next time you feel jealous, accept the feelings, yet change the way you think about the situation and be reasonable and wise. To cope with this, you can learn tools to calm yourself down before reacting, for example, by taking a walk or a series of deep breaths. It’s a lot easier to calm down in this way when you refuse to tolerate or indulge in the angry words of your inner critic. Anything you do, do not engage.
If you can deconstruct the feeling of jealousy that you experience and figure out what is underneath it, then you would have more direction of where to go.
2. Ask Yourself Why You are Really Jealous
Once you have the self-control to calm yourself and you have succeeded on not acting on your feelings. You can truly start to ask yourself why you were jealous in the first place. While it is always easy to put the blame on your partner and to assume that your partner is at fault for making you feel jealous, it also says a lot about you, since getting worked up over any given situation can actually tell you more about yourself than the partner you’re jealous over. Sometimes, jealous reflects on negative feelings that we have about ourselves, and the pervasive anxiety telling us we aren’t enough or it comes from a place of insecurity and low self-esteem.
In light of this, instead of putting the blame on your partner for making you jealous, take your time to analyse why you’re actually feeling jealous, and answer the question 'what core fear is being triggered?' To trustfully answer this, you could get a journal to write out the answers you come up with, which is basically all your feelings during those times you felt jealous.
From your answer you can then see if the current scenario trigger something old like a family dynamic or long-held, negative self-perception. The more you can connect these emotions or overreactions to the past events that created them in the first place, the clearer you would feel in your present-day situation and you would realise that it wasn’t your partner's fault to start with.
If you keep thinking about it, talk about it!
3. Try as Much as Possible to Communicate and Not Accuse
The importance of communication in relationships cannot be over emphasised. Which is why it is important to maintain open, honest communication with your partner. This open line of communication is not about unloading your insecurities on your partner, but instead, allowing yourself to be kind and connected, even when you feel insecure or jealous. This naturally helps your partner to do the same. Therefore if you have tried the three steps mentioned above and you still have that nudging feeling, the best option for you would be to call your partner’s attention to it.
So, if you feel that your partner is doing something that is making you jealous, you can express how you feel and talk to them in a mature way. You can also communicate it with humour, diplomacy or directly as long as it is respectful. If you are humorous, you can joke about how insanely jealous you are when your partner pays attention to someone else. Laugh with them as you say this, because it will take the pressure off the topic and at the same time it will get the message across to them. However to do this, it takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to admit that you’re jealous. But it’s important to do so especially if you’re feeling it regularly. If your partner really cares about you, he/she would see reason to anything you say and try as much as possible to reassure you of his/her love for you by taking practical steps in the relationship to try to alleviate your insecurities.
Now, when you are communicating your feelings or expressing your feelings to your partner be careful not to accuse them as it would only result in arguments and nothing gets resolved at the end of the day. When you talk to your partner, it is essential that you craft the conversation to be about you and not them. Do not say accusatory things like, ‘You were flirting with that girl last night’ ‘you are cheating on me’ ‘you don’t love me anymore.’ Saying anything like that is only going to make them feel defensive. That doesn’t mean you’re not right about their behaviour, but if you want to have a productive conversation, going on the attack won’t do you any favours. Instead, make it all about you. ‘Babe, I’m feeling this way, and I think it’s because I experienced this and that’ can help get the conversation started.
4. Trust Your Partner and Trust Yourself
As mentioned earlier, what is a relationship without trust? To have a healthy, happy and a long lasting relationship, there is a great need for you to trust your partner. You have no other option but to trust your partner. It would save you a lot of headache that your feeling of jealousy would cost you anyway. You need to know that your partner is a person and not a robot that can be controlled. If you know this, you would know that you or no one can control your partner and you have to let jealousy go. Although, having some control is not a bad thing, yet trying to control somebody for things over which you have no control, is problematic. Hence, act in a loving manner in spite of any feeling of jealousy you experience in the course of your relationship. If not for anything, do it for your own peace of mind.
In the same vein, you have to trust yourself as well. That is the best thing that you can do for yourself. Trust that you can absolutely love someone so deeply without any regrets whatsoever. Trust yourself that your love will act like the anchor that will prevent your relationship from floating away. Although it is easier said than done, but ultimately when you trust yourself, you trust whatever comes. You feel confidence that you will be able to manage even the most difficult situation, including a breakup or rejection.
On the other side of the spectrum, you should trust God to give you the strength to handle any relationship hassle as he is the one that orchestrated your meeting with your partner. Put your trust in him. If you do, you would never be put to shame.
There you have it! You now know that regardless of when those feelings of jealousy crops up on you, you know what to do and how to deal with it!