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How Do I Deal with Jealousy in a Relationship?

Last updated on July 5, 2023

“There is no greater glory than love,
Nor any greater punishment than jealousy”
Lope De Vega (Famous Spanish playwright and poet)

     If curiosity killed the cat then it is safe to say that jealousy killed the relationship. This may sound abrupt or even a bit over the top but jealousy can often be a decisive factor in a relationship's success or failure. While some jealousy in a relationship is natural and, in the eyes of some, healthy, it can cause a big rift if not dealt with effectively and appropriately. By healthy jealousy, we are referring to those who are able to control their jealousy and communicate it appropriately to their partner. This form of jealousy is healthy because it is discussed honestly and openly and has not become anger or resentment. It is also normal because it is connected to the importance you place on the relationship and the deep love you have within it.

In the Article "How Do I Deal with Jealousy in a Relationship?"

Everything Happens for a Reason

     Jealousy can develop from one, or more, of many different factors in a relationship. Sometimes it is very easy to pinpoint the epicentre of jealousy and at other times jealousy can rear its head for no apparent reason. More often than not jealousy can be linked to a person's own insecurities and vulnerabilities than about the actions of their partner. Here we will address some of the vulnerabilities that may cause you or your partner to feel jealous:

  • Prone to jealousy — For many of the jealous types out there, being jealous has become part of who they are, part of their DNA. This trait often comes about because of painful experiences in the past. When thinking of painful experiences in a relationship causing jealousy we mean having a partner flirt with others or cheating. It is important that these experiences are discussed so that each of you understands the other’s feelings and how best to support each other. This particular cause for jealousy is particularly hard to cope with if you are the partner that could potentially be accused. Be understanding, do not be defensive, and support your partner. If you are the jealous one you need to make sure you trust in your partner’s love for you and open up about your feelings and your past.
  • Low self-esteem or a poor self-image — We all have days where we look in the mirror and are not happy with what we see staring back at us. We all have days where we do not understand why anyone would find us physically attractive or enjoy our company. After a while these little feelings turn into voices in our heads, asking us “How could anyone truly love you? How could anyone truly value you?”. It is important to remember that your partner is your partner. If they did not value you, if they did not love you, then they would not be your partner. You may notice your partner always putting themselves down or questioning your love for them. This is them showing you that they are feeling low about themselves. Ultimately, this causes jealousy because the partner with this low self-image will begin to think that their partner must be looking elsewhere or wanting to find someone else. It can lead to jealousy becoming apparent where there is absolutely no reason for it. 
  • Unrealistic expectations — We all have our idea of the perfect partner. We all can see in our mind’s eye what the perfect relationship looks like. Albert Einstein once said “There is nothing known as"perfect ". It is only those imperfections which we choose not to see”. Often people expect far too much from their relationship and when these expectations are not met they start to question their relationship and their partner’s intentions which leads to jealousy. It is important to be realistic about both your partner and your relationship. As an example, it is completely unrealistic to expect your partner to spend all of their time with you. Everyone needs their own space and time alone sometimes. This ultimately increases your bond with your partner as you will long to see each other and have things to talk about when you are together. If you expect to be together all of the time you will become jealous any time your partner is away from you. If you are in a secure relationship you can trust your partner to be away from you or your jealousy will cause the relationship to end. 

Of course, feelings of jealousy will not always be the fault of the person who is jealous. We must not always blame ourselves. Relationships are about give and take and if one of you is feeling jealous it is highly plausible that it is due to something the other person has done. Here are a few possible reasons for being jealous that is the fault of your partner:

  • Flirting with other people — this sign will only cause jealousy when you actually see it or hear about it. If you openly flirt with other people in front of your partner it will create feelings of jealousy. It will show your partner that your feelings for them are not sincere as you are interested in someone else and not hiding it from them. If your intention is to make them jealous then you need to consider where your relationship is. Most people that use flirting as a means to cause jealousy actually want to see a reaction that shows their partner has real feelings for them. Let’s be honest, they are not going to outwardly flirt in front of you if they are looking for someone new, this generally is a secretive act. 
  • Talking about exes — Obviously a relationship is about being open and honest. The topic of exes will, inevitably, occur at some point as you both open up about your past experiences and, potentially, the possible effects they have had on you. However, jealousy can often come about when a spouse suddenly starts talking about an ex out of nowhere. This sudden mention of an ex-partner will cause jealous questions in the mind of the other person. Do they still think about them? Are there feelings there? Have they been in touch? The possible inclusion of an ex into your life can cause feelings of jealousy to flood in. In order to avoid jealousy any mention of an ex should be done carefully and with your partner’s feelings in mind.
  • Distance doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder — We have all heard the saying, distance makes the heart grow fonder, but is this always the case? It is important to remember that a healthy relationship does not mean that you both have to spend every available moment in each other’s company. It is important to have some time away from your partner, whether with family, friends, or on your own. However, if one partner seemingly spends far more time away than with their spouse this can cause feelings of jealousy. The partner left behind will begin questioning where their partner is, whether they are being honest about where they are, and whether are they really with who they say they are. Too much distance can give the impression that feelings have been lost, that the level of care has dropped, and that they no longer want to spend time with their partner. Distance will only prevent jealousy if it is conducted honestly and time with their partner is important and takes place. This distance can also present itself as being too busy. This could come in the form of needing to work more all the time and a lack of time spent together. This causes jealousy as a partner will feel that their love does not see time with them as important.
  • Secretive — In a relationship you do not need to share everything, all of the time. However, a spouse being overly secretive can cause huge feelings of jealousy that will ultimately ruin any relationship. In this modern age it is both easier to keep secrets and easier to get caught out. Modern technology has a big role to play in keeping secrets from a partner. The majority of people have smartphones, tablets, and other devices that they can use to hide things from their partners. Secret messages can be sent and many platforms used. However, it can become obvious that a partner is hiding something. Jealousy grows when a partner seems to only look at their phone when they are on their own, hide or angle their phone away when using their phone in front of their partner or try to cover their tracks - e.g. don’t let their partner look at their phone, delete all their messages or use exceptionally tight security settings. Secrets cause jealousy because they cause the fear of the unknown. This use of the phone causes other issues if the person using it laughs or smiles when using it but won’t say what they are looking at or panics, however subtly, when asked about it.

There are other reasons that can make a partner jealous. More often than not the most common causes are the ones mentioned above as they demonstrate a partner’s willingness to test the relationship. If one or more of the aforementioned reasons come to fruition the other person will become jealous as their feelings are not being considered and they will begin to doubt their partner's actions and/ or motives.

Spot the Signs and Spot Them Early

     As we have previously mentioned, jealousy can be healthy as it shows how much you care and love for your partner. However, it is only healthy if you are not aggressive with it or if the causes of it are not something that can potentially cause the relationship to stop. Sometimes you could be making your partner jealous without even knowing it. If you do not spot the signs of jealousy early they could spiral out of control and cause a loving relationship to completely fall apart. Here we discuss some different signs that may show your partner is jealous. These are also signs that you could be jealous. By this, we mean that if you discover that you are carrying out any of the below it could signify that you are jealous. It is also very likely that you do not realise you are jealous until you start doing these things. Now, it is important to remember that people will show their feelings in different ways but these signs are likely to present themselves if your partner is experiencing jealous feelings.

  1. Checking your communications — We all have passwords for a reason and, we imagine, a lot of us will share these with our partners in case of an emergency or for them to access information if needed. We share this information on the basis that we trust our partner to trawl through our communications without asking us. We do not want them digging through our phones etc without us knowing in case we have ordered them a surprise gift etc. However, if you have suspicions, or you discover, that your partner is looking through your phone, accessing your emails or looking into your personal communications then it is evidence that your partner is jealous. 
  2. Insults being thrown around — Every relationship has a bit of banter. We all throw little jibes at our partners but most of the time we know that they can take it and the subject is already a topic of humour for you both. If you notice that your partner starts insulting you, in a more personal way, then this could be a sign that they are jealous and, rather than telling you, have decided to try and hurt your feelings as they feel you have hurt theirs. This use of insulting behaviour will also become more apparent when you are both in the presence of the company. If your spouse is jealous they may make little digs at you while you are with your friends or family. The reason they choose this moment is because they know you will hear them but may be less likely to question them.
  3. Making assumptions — Assumptions are a certainty in life, we all make them and normally they are made based on past experiences. Assumptions will occur often in a relationship, mainly in regard to simple, unimportant issues such as assuming your spouse wanted tea when they actually wanted coffee, assuming they would make dinner or assuming they would put the washing on. While these assumptions can cause disagreement they are not necessarily relationship breakers as you both get disgruntled about the incident and move on quickly. One of the biggest assumptions someone can, incorrectly, make in a relationship is that their partner is just attracted to them or is not interested any more. This assumption causes jealousy because you automatically assume that if your partner is not attracted to you then they must be attracted to someone else. The reason assumptions cause jealousy is because they are based on a feeling, a hunch rather than cold, hard facts. It is easy for you to spot your own jealousy coming from this situation, noticing your partner’s assumptions is not so easy. However, you may find your partner hinting at this by making comments such as “You don’t love me any more”, “You don’t find me attractive any more” or “You don’t want to be intimate with me any more” when you have given off no such signal. This is their way of showing they are jealous of something without directly saying it. 
  4. Being grilled or messaged constantly — We all love to talk about our day with our spouse, asking them questions or sending them the occasional message throughout the day. It shows we are thinking of them when we are apart and that we care about, them and are interested in what they do when we are not together. However, if you find that your partner is bombarding you with messages throughout the day it could be a sign of jealousy and that they want to keep your mind on them. These messages will be innocent. They will be messages of love, affection or innocent inquisitiveness but the fact they happen very often throughout the day signifies something is wrong. Your partner wants to keep your attention on them as they may feel your eyes wandering elsewhere. Being grilled about your whereabouts is another surefire sign that your partner is jealous. You finish work at 5 pm but at 5:05 pm they are messaging you asking where you are etc then they are checking your whereabouts because they are concerned that you are with someone else etc.  You will begin to notice this quite quickly. It will start with situations such as the one above. You might pop to the shop, a trip that takes 20 minutes, but after 10 they are pestering you as to where you are. This can then escalate into them constantly wanting to know where you are in the house if you are not with them. This is because their feelings of jealousy make them believe that you must be messaging other people and you do not want them to know. This is one jealousy sign that is easy to spot but it is also easy to get frustrated with. It can push someone to become secretive or irritated and therefore want to stay away from their partner. 

  5. Accusations are the siblings of assumptions — As with assumptions, we will all go through making accusations. Many of us make accusations in our heads while doing our best to find evidence to back us up. If you are going to openly accuse someone of something you need to have the evidence to support your feelings or it can cause more problems than it solves. If someone is jealous in a relationship they will make accusations and, probably, make them regularly and without much morning. The biggest accusation made by a jealous person in a relationship is that their partner is lying. Their accusations will probably be based on nothing more than their own low self-esteem or their perception of your behaviour. If you are innocent in this, or even if you are not, it is exceptionally hard to convince your partner that you are not lying. If you realise you are regularly accusing your partner or you are on the receiving end of regular accusations then jealousy is definitely a factor. 

These are just a few signs that jealousy is a present factor in your relationship. It is important to be aware of the signs so that you do not miss them and put your relationship in jeopardy. If you are innocent, keep an eye out for these signs so that you can put your partner’s mind at ease. If you notice that you are displaying the above signs of jealousy you need to think carefully about your relationship and take a closer look at the points below. 

How to Approach or Cope with Jealousy

     How to approach jealousy, whether your own or your partner’s, is something we all need to consider as it is highly likely that jealousy will creep into our relationship at some point! One of the most important things is to realize, and remember, that jealousy is completely normal. Whether you are jealous of a flirty coworker or the fact your other half travels a lot, it is a normal feeling. The important thing is that you both take time to discuss the issue at hand, understand each other's viewpoint, and agree on some boundaries that will protect both your relationship and your heart. The key to this discussion is that it is carried out calmly, you respect what each other has to say, and that a mutual agreement is made.

Another way to approach or cope with jealous feelings is to get to the root of the problem and find out what is causing these feelings in the first place. The only way to do this is to ask questions and to understand where the jealous feelings stem from. Only then can you both begin to discuss ways to lessen these feelings and make each other feel more secure. It is important to be open, honest, and respectful. You must make sure you do not put your partner’s feelings down or criticize them for feeling the way they do as this will only cause more problems than it will solve. 

Trust is the foundation of any successful, healthy relationship and without it, a relationship is almost certainly doomed to fail. If trust is lacking then jealousy has the perfect environment in which to grow and, in time, kill the relationship. Another way to consider trust is to think each person is committed, faithful and honest. Jealousy cannot exist if each partner completely embodies these values and so you can cope or deal with jealousy from the very outset. You both need to make sure that your partner knows you are faithful and committed through being honest at all times, even when it causes a disagreement. While disagreements are not the best, your partner will respect your honesty, and you should do the same!

Another way of coping with jealousy, especially your own, is to seek professional help. This can be a very hard thing to do for many people as they feel they will be judged. You must remember that your feelings will directly impact your health. Whether your feelings of jealousy are based on facts or just a hunch, they need to be addressed. In order to cope with your feelings you need to find someone to talk to. Getting your feelings out in the open helps you hear them for yourself and begin sorting them. You may want to head to a professional - a therapist or doctor - or talk to a trusted friend or family member. At the end of the day, the worst thing you can do is keep these feelings inside. This will only cause you pain. Whether telling your partner or speaking with someone else it is important to verbalise how you feel and begin addressing these feelings.  

Coping with jealousy is not an easy thing to do but if you can understand the possible causes, the early warning signs that jealousy is apparent, and have a knowledge of how to cope/ approach it you will do very well.


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