Jealousy is like poison to any relationship and to your soul. Feelings of jealousy and envy will leave you paranoid, distracted, angry, hurt and heartbroken. When expressed in a romantic relationship, jealousy will make your partner feel trapped and controlled. Over a considerable period of time, it will wear away at everything that was great about the relationship and leave you with distrust and disconnection.
Still, jealousy is a very real emotion. Very real and very painful. So what are we to do about something that is so easy to get caught up in and so destructive at the same time? The truth is, you don't have to be jealous. In fact, once you understand and come to terms with whatever is causing you to feel jealous, you will most likely never struggle with it again.
If you know you have a jealous streak and are tired of it hurting your relationships, then read on. We're going to tell you exactly what you should do about it.
There are only a couple of causes of jealousy and they all stem from one thing: lack of trust. Lack of trust always boils down to a lack of self-esteem. It's easy to say, "just trust your partner and you won't feel jealous anymore", but if the underlying causes that are creating the jealousy aren't healed, it will be very difficult to trust them. If you're feeling jealous, then clearly you don't trust them, and you can't just turn that off.
So where do you start?
First, identify why you don't trust them. It will likely be one of the following two reasons or a combination of both:
A. They do and say things and/or behave in ways that hurt your trust.
B. You are attempting to control them to avoid getting hurt.
Ask yourself honestly:
Have they said or done something that has shaken your trust in them?
If so, what did they do?
Can you be very specific about it?
It is extremely important to distinguish the facts here in order to determine if they are behaving or doing things in a way that is hindering your ability to trust them. We've worked with people that were very certain that their partner was not trustworthy, only to discover as they considered these questions more deeply that they couldn't provide any clear evidence to support their suspicions.
Determining whether your partner is doing something to generate your suspicion or if your suspicion is coming from yourself is vitally important in figuring out what to do about it.
Maybe it was something obvious like you caught them cheating on you and you haven't been able to move past it, but it may also be something more subtle. Perhaps they behave in ways that may lead you to believe that they are hiding something. Maybe there are elements in their stories that don't quite add up. Maybe it's the way that they treat you; you don't feel that they truly respect you, and that makes you doubt their faithfulness. Perhaps they conduct themselves around the opposite sex in a way that feels like there is an opening with them, and that makes you feel insecure.
If you can identify something specific they do or say that is leading you to this feeling then ask yourself, "If this thing were corrected would my feelings be different?" Answering this question honestly can be very helpful in determining where the jealousy is coming from.
When you can say for certain that they are doing something that is causing these feelings of jealousy for you, the next thing to do is to talk to them about it.
Nothing beneficial ever comes from avoiding important relationship issues. In fact, it will likely destroy the relationship.
So many relationships might have been saved if the partners had learned to come together and resolve issues like this as a team. Avoiding them drives couples further apart and leaves them feeling isolated and alone.
Talk to your partner, and in a kind and understanding way, tell them your thoughts about the situation. Tell them what makes you feel insecure about it. Openly ask them for their help in making you feel safe in the relationship. This is not an accusation; it's a conversation.
If there is an incongruent story or something doesn't make sense to you, honestly say to them, "This doesn't add up for me. Can you please explain it better?" Not in an accusatory way, but simply in wanting to uncover what inconsistency may or may not be there. You might find that there was an inconsistency, but it wasn't what you thought at all. This then brings up something else for you to talk through that will ultimately bring you closer together.
If it's the way your partner behaves around the opposite sex that makes you feel insecure, gently bring that up to them: "Honey, when you do or say [...] with other men/women, I don't feel very good about it. Can we talk about that?"