Unless you have experienced that deep, kick-in-the-guts, sick-to-your-stomach feeling, you haven’t felt jealousy. Sure you might have been a little envious at times, when your best friend did better than you at exams or sport. Or maybe you had a little pinch of anxiety when your boyfriend smiled at another girl. But when you feel real, churning jealousy, you know it. It eats you up, pushes away all the positive, and bathes you in a filthy pond of pain. So, how to deal with jealousy when all you want to do is love and be loved?
And what if it is the other way round? What if your relationship becomes hijacked by your partner’s inability to relax and enjoy your company? What if s/he is so jealous it's like an insidious poison that undermines everything that is good about you as a couple? How to deal with jealousy when it threatens to tear you apart?
What is Jealousy and Why Do We Feel It?
According to a study published at Guilford Journals, "Jealousy is a form of angry, agitated worry, whose goal is to anticipate and avoid surprise and betrayal.”
Jealousy is an emotional manifestation of self-protection that tries to anticipate the breakdown of a relationship. It causes you to feel anger instead of pain. If you get angry enough, the pain is pushed down. And what causes the pain in the first place? It’s the fear that you aren’t good enough. Not only do you fear you aren’t good enough for your partner, you feel as if you aren’t good enough for you.
These feelings have been with you a long time, possibly since childhood. It’s only when you are in a relationship do they seem to explode out of nowhere. There is nothing more destructive than jealousy because no matter how much you try and talk yourself out of it with logic, you cannot reason with your emotions.
The Effect of Jealousy on a Relationship
At first your partner might feel flattered that you are jealous, but pretty soon it informs your whole way of interacting. Your partner will feel as if their every thought is under scrutiny. That they have to walk on eggshells in order not to wake the monster within you. Eventually they decide that nothing is worth this constant battle with your internal demons. They end it… and all those feelings within you are validated. You knew they would get bored with you and find someone else. They probably had their next partner lined up all along. Heck, you knew that meaningful look they threw to that girl at the party last week was the start of something. You just knew it.
How To Deal with Jealousy in Yourself
It’s impossible to prevent jealousy when you focus on behavior within a relationship. This is an inside job. You need to look at how you feel about yourself. Your partner is merely the catalyst which brought the feelings out. Look inside and make a pact with yourself. Understand and acknowledge that you are worthy of self-love.
In the instant you know, without doubt, that you are a worthy, lovable person, jealousy will disappear. In the moment you can tell yourself how much you love you, jealousy will be no more. It really is as simple as that.
Of course, jealousy will fight back. Its goal is to keep you feel inadequate. To warn you that no-one loves you, to make you ‘less-than’. Jealousy separates you from you. You are not jealousy, and jealousy is not you. If you can always remember that you are whole, worthy and as valuable as any other human being on the planet, then it cannot cling to you. So whenever you begin to experience that deep, dark, anger, or the panic that the person you hold most dear is slipping away, and every word that comes out of your mouth is pushing them further away, remember it’s not who you are. Firstly, recognize that you are a being of love experiencing momentary jealousy. Give it form, Make it into an actual thing. Imagine it as a lump of slime. Now visualize a tiny chink of light shining through the jealous slime. Imagine the light getting brighter and bigger until all the jealousy has gone. The more you practice, the faster you will banish jealousy every time it reappears.
Dealing With a Jealous Partner
It’s tough because you are always feeling you are in the wrong. That you’ve done something inadvertently to upset them. You don’t seem to be able to do anything without seeing a flash of anger mixed with anxiety in their eyes. You do your best to placate them and reassure them but nothing works.
There are a few things you can try. First of all, make physical contact. Sometimes that’s all people need for the jealousy to subside. In other cases, touching them will make them worse. It depends on the kind of attachment your partner is subject to.
Explain logically how impossible it is for you to have cheated on them. If necessary, give them access to your social media accounts.
Tell them how much they mean to you, and how you would be devastated to lose them. Put yourself in the vulnerable, needy position for a little while. In essence, you are handing your personal power to them temporarily. Try to understand that their feelings of jealousy are based on their own lack of self-confidence, so by boosting their self-esteem, you are helping them to reconnect with their real self. It may work; it may not.
When Feelings of Jealousy Transform into Jealous Behavior
Should your relationship deteriorate so that the jealous partner becomes controlling and forceful, then you should seriously consider walking away. Your own well-being is too important to allow it to be destroyed. Jealousy can turn into stalking—where one partner monitors the other’s whereabouts, records their phone conversations and even installs nanny-cams in the home. No-one should put up with this and you have every reason to end the relationship. If you love them, you can suggest counseling or some other form of therapy, but don’t let your partner wreck your life because they can’t control their jealousy.
Psychology Today: Jealousy is a Killer: How to Break Free from Your Jealousy