Understanding what’s at the root of the emotion can help you cope with jealous behavior.
No one wants to admit being jealous, but we’ve all felt it. We all know that stingy realization that something or someone we love is at risk of being lost or taken from us.
Jealousy can be a reflection of our innermost thoughts. We then project the emotion onto our reality and relationships.
Jealousy can create unhelpful patterns of behaviors and intrusive thoughts that can leave relationships reeling.
Even though jealousy can be problematic in relationships, the emotion can be redirected and reframed into productive, meaningful avenues for growth and acceptance.
Has your partner become more controlling by questioning your behaviors and motives? Are you feeling insecure and creating scenarios in your head and destructively projecting them onto your relationship? If so, jealousy might be the culprit.
Jealousy is the emotion we can experience when something of value — such as our romantic relationships or positions at work — is being threatened and can be potentially taken from us.
Also, jealousy can arise spontaneously and potentially sabotage our otherwise healthy and harmonious relationships.
Still, the emotion occurs naturally in humans and can invite us to turn our attention toward the root of the feelings we’re experiencing.
Some might argue that jealousy in relationships isn’t “bad” and can be quite constructive. But there is a fine line between jealousy as a healthy motivator and jealousy as the destructive antagonist.
Jealously runs on assumptions and can make you imagine circumstances that aren’t there. Understanding how signs of jealousy may show up within a relationship can be helpful.
Because every relationship is unique, jealousy may appear in various ways and look different for everyone. The following are common signs that indicate your partner might be experiencing jealousy:
- possessive or controlling behavior
- constant reassurance
- monitoring your whereabouts and communications
- distrust or suspicion
- lack of boundaries
- increased volatility
Becoming aware of toxic behaviors in your relationship can help you examine how your actions may affect your partner.
Behaviors that you may notice can include but aren’t limited to:
- restricting your ability to communicate with others
- going through your phone when you’re not around
- checking your text messages and emails without consent
- threats or acts of physical violence
If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic violence, you can:
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours a day at 800-799-7233
- Contact loveisrespect.org by texting LOVEIS to 22522 or calling 866-331-9474
- Visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for a list of resources
Anxiety and its trademark “what ifs” can create something out of nothing and leave the door open for jealousy to take root in your relationship.
According to a small 2021 study, people who monitor their partners on social media or mistrust online communication experience higher levels of jealousy and attachment anxiety.
The same study also reported that jealousy responses in relationships typically increase if an individual lives with attachment anxiety.
Behavioral patterns in previous relationships can also make you more likely to become jealous or experience jealousy in your relationship.
Jealousy is often a cover for underlying issues, such as:
- low self-esteem
- fear of abandonment
These issues can fuel jealousy and manipulate a person’s behavior. They can also cause harm that can be hard to recover from.
If jealous behavior and feelings impact your relationship, implementing strategies and techniques can help you navigate back to a more peaceful place. The following are some to consider.
Explore the root of jealousy
Try to identify why jealousy has become an issue and communicate openly with your partner about their point of view.
You may also consider asking a trusted friend for their opinion. You might be surprised how a different perspective can help you see more clearly.
Focus on the present moment
The presence of jealousy can be an opportunity to discuss the reality of your relationship versus the perception of what it should be.
Mindfulness and gratitude practices may also be beneficial for overcoming jealousy. Being grateful for the relationship you have, perfect or not, can help you identify all the things that work.
Couples therapy may also prove beneficial.
Finding a space where we feel comfortable expressing our true feelings, especially on a sensitive topic like jealousy, can be difficult.
A therapist can help guide your discussions so that you and your partner can get to the root causes of jealousy. They can also help you work to reframe unhelpful behaviors or intrusive thoughts.
Jealousy is a natural emotion, but it can create quite a challenge for even the strongest relationships.
Whether you notice jealousy in your partner or yourself, understanding why jealousy is present is crucial to the relationship’s survival.
Try to observe how jealousy affects your relationship and explore the root cause without judgment.
It may take time, but you can overcome jealousy with an openness to communicate and an ability to employ gratitude toward your partner and relationship.