I know you’ve written a lot about jealousy before but I am interested in how you specifically deal with jealousy because it doesn’t seem like you are a very jealous person and I am the exact opposite! I feel jealous all the time and I don’t know how to handle it. Can you give me any tips that could help me when I start to feel jealous?
It’s true, I’m not a very jealous person. Ultimately it always comes back to this train of thought: I trust my partner. If I didn’t trust my partner, something would be wrong with the relationship. It does not matter if I don’t trust the people that my partner is with. I trust my partner. When I think about that thought, it’s very difficult to react negatively to situations that are prone to jealousy. They just erase themselves when they hit that “trust” wall.
What I mean to say is, I certainly feel jealousy. Many people write about jealousy, especially other sex or relationship bloggers, or people who focus on polyamory. Jealousy is a hot topic because it can influence the stability of a relationship. I used to say that I just didn’t get jealous. That is a misrepresentation of my feelings. I think jealousy is a natural emotion, like anger, and that jealousy is a reaction to something that is happening in our lives. I think that jealousy is often a bigger emotion that summarizes fear or envy in a particular situation.
What I think is different about my reaction towards jealousy is my habitual over-analyzation. Many people experience a situation that makes them jealous and their reaction is “this made me feel badly, what you have done is wrong, do not do this thing again because it made me feel badly.” This is a completely reasonable way to think. Something made you feel bad, you don’t want your partner to make you feel bad, so tell them to stop doing it. Magazines reinforce this type of thinking in traditional jealousy-prone scenarios like being friends with an ex-partner, having opposite-sex friends, or staying out late at night having fun without your partner. If you hear that this type of behavior is bad, or wrong, or dangerous enough times, you might already be more prone to react negatively towards it. You interpret it as “wrong.”
That’s not to say that some couples can’t decide that talking to ex-partners is off limits or that there should be certain boundaries in place to make sure everyone is comfortable. In fact, I think that having those conversations and being considerate of your partners feelings (whether they “make sense” or not) is good for the relationship.
Let’s summarize: I believe jealousy is natural, I believe in trust: and for myself this often extinguishes runaway jealous thoughts, it can be helpful to prevent jealousy by avoiding situations that might trigger your partners jealousy, it is useful to think about why a scenario might make you jealous to think about whether or not there is anything to fear.
Jealousy can be a sticky-bad feeling. You might start to feel feelings of ownership over your partner. You might feel warm and hot and anxious. You could feel like crying. You might start to feel that there is space between you and your partner, and react by attaching yourself to your partner.
When you start to feel jealous, try to think of the situation that triggered your jealousy. Respect that jealous feelings can reflect the closeness and love you feel for your partner, but be aware that jealousy can be a gateway to negative behaviors. If you are experiencing fear, why are you afraid? If it is envy, what is something you can do for yourself to make you feel better? What about going out with some friends? A bubble bath? Reading a good book?
For some, jealousy is a deeper run problem, reflecting insecurities. If that’s the case, it might be much more difficult than thinking about where the jealousy came from and communicating or having a cool-down time. Trying to just let it fly and being accepting of situations that make you uncomfortable isn’t the answer. Meeting with a counselor to determine what those insecurities are and how you can work through them might be helpful, as it will run over a course of time, and help you unwind those things that make you feel bad.