Why Am I So Jealous?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I am incredibly jealous in my current relationship. I have never been a jealous girlfriend before. With previous boyfriends, I felt a pang of jealousy with certain circumstances – like one bf used to stay at a female friend’s house in France for holidays – but I just told myself there’s no point in going out with someone unless you trust them and that worked.

I completely trust my boyfriend, probably more than I’ve trusted any previous boyfriend! Yet I feel distraught when he mentions his past. Even if he doesn’t mention an ex girlfriend I just imagine that they were there. I get upset during sex or if he doesn’t seem to be responding well enough to my advances (all other experiences have been that if I do something sexy, men want to have sex with me, but my current bf sometimes doesn’t respond or just ignores it). I also got upset because it somehow came up in conversation that I had the longest pubic hair he had ever seen. I don’t make much effort on myself but I never have and it’s never been a problem. I’ve always been able to get a boyfriend if I want one so I suppose I’d assumed I didn’t need to try. My boyfriend tells me that he doesn’t want me to make any effort, keeps telling me I don’t need make up and he likes me just how I am, but since he mentioned the pubic hair thing, and he said he liked it shorted for practical reasons during sex, I feel completely inferior.

I also don’t really like it when he speaks to other women, unless they are in a long-term relationship.

I’ve never, ever felt like this before. I think most of it is because I just suddenly think everyone is better than me and that I’m a useless excuse for a woman. My self-esteem just seems to have plummeted over the last year and I’m not clear why. I love my boyfriend but sometimes I think about leaving him. This is because many times a day I feel this simultaneous mixture of emotions – love and heartbreak – the sort of pain I imagine I would get if he left. I just don’t want to hurt anymore.

I don’t act jealous around my bf and would never ask him not to do something/see someone for my sake. I talk to him calmly about my jealousy so I can explain why I am upset but I always make sure I tell him that this is my problem and not in any way his fault. I don’t want him to feel like he needs to change the things he does just so I don’t get jealous.

I’m really stuck on this, I don’t know how to make it stop. I feel like crying a lot of the time. How can I start feeling more confident again? I hate feeling jealous and it is also making my boyfriend feel bad.

A: Thank you for writing.

It sounds to me like you don’t feel good enough about yourself. The jealousy you are describing is probably a projection. You are likely to be jealous of a trait or characteristic that hasn’t fully formed (yet) inside of you. My guess is that you were probably drawn to his confidence.

Self-acceptance is needed to undo jealousy. When you cognitively restructured your thoughts, such as telling yourself that a relationship is valueless unless you have trust, you were able to cope much better.

Self-acceptance is important for coping with the internal pangs you describe. I would recommend working with a cognitive-behavioral therapist for a few brief sessions to identify more of the negative thoughts you have (you have a good handle on many of them from your description here) and to find more positive affirmations to replace them. The find help tab at the top of the page will assist you in locating someone.

That having been said, the other part of this is to be okay enough with your boundaries and concerns that you can assert them clearly enough when they are bothering you. When he says or does something you don’t like it will be just as important to find your voice and be clear about what isn’t okay.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Why Am I So Jealous?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/22/why-am-i-so-jealous/