Jealous, insecure and don’t know how to trust
I am writing this because I have met the most wonderful man, who I love very much and who returns this sentiment. He has been so patient with me and now I fear I have pushed things to breaking point with my constant feelings of jealousy and the mad behavior that ensues. E.g., reading through his phone and email messages, asking him who he was talking to on the phone, how/why he knows female friends, causing scenes in front of his friends if he happens to talk to a girl while he is queuing at the bar. All sorts of things that, if the other way round I would find unacceptable.
The problem is I feel like I am going mad. I don’t know why I feel the way that I do because writing it down it doesn’t make sense. I haven’t had a particularly rough time in the past, I have had perhaps one ex that maybe cheated on me but I was never sure. The others have been good guys and yet I am convinced that they are trying to pull one over on me or make a fool of me, are only with me because of the timing and basically feel insecure about the relationship. When I am single I am completely different, outgoing, confident (maybe this is just a front) but as soon as I care about someone deeply I seem to lose the plot, and become (as my boyfriend put it ‘smothering’). I think this insecurity and jealousy that I feel is basically due to low self esteem (I have been with a couple of people who emotionally and verbally abused me). I feel like if I knew what it was to trust someone completely I wouldn’t feel insecure or jealous within the relationship but I just don’t have the confidence to believe that someone wouldn’t prefer someone else to me. For example with my current boyfriend I am constantly trying to find things that will ‘prove’ that he is no good, or that he is encouraging someone. I suppose I just don’t know what it is like to trust someone. Now my boyfriend is saying that he wants some space. Not as in not seeing me, but just time for him to see his friends and socialize sometimes without me there, or without me checking in. I know this is perfectly normal and reasonable and not something he should even have to ask for, yet I completely freaked out, feeling really hurt and rejected. It’s almost as if I enjoy feeling hurt and upset or get a kick out of thinking about his past – which upsets me. I obsess over his ex partners, even though when we first started dating I wasn’t bothered about his past, its only as the relationship progresses that I seem to get more and more insecure as opposed to the other way around? What can I do to stop doing this? I can see I am driving my lovely man away, but I have this almost toilettes like impulsion to say things I know are hurtful because of my jealousy or insecurities – things like – ‘I’m sure your ex-girlfriend was much better than me at that’ or whatever.
Please advise, I am thinking of looking into some sort of therapy or counseling as this man really means too much for me, I would never forgive myself if I drove him away.
A: Your intuition to do some counseling is a good one. The find help tab at the top of the page will help you find someone in your country.
The more intimate relationships have different rules of engagement because of the intensity involved. When you are single and dating is casual you don’t have much to lose because the investment isn’t so great. But it sounds like once you are emotionally invested it feels shaky because now have something to lose.
Just because you have a feeling of being insecure doesn’t make it real. When you feel these concerns, particularly about your jealousy, you are going to want to challenge these thoughts. I would encourage you to work with a therapist who can teach you the basics of resilience so you can have the thoughts and move past them.
The find help tab will give you lists of people in your country. I would explain to the ones you choose to interview that you’re looking to find specific coping skills. This will help them work with you to put a plan of action together to bring about the changes you want.
About Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPPDaniel J. Tomasulo, Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP is a graduate of the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania and works as Martin Seligman's assistant instructor there. He is a licensed psychologist specializing in group psychotherapy and psychodrama and is the author of the highly acclaimed Confessions of a Former Child: A Therapist’s Memoir. Visit www.formerchild.com for more information. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Jealous, insecure and don’t know how to trust. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 3, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/08/21/jealous-insecure-and-dont-know-how-to-trust/