If you’re walking around with your partner around Lake Merritt in Oakland and an attractive man or woman glances over at them and smiles and your partner smiles back, you may feel a twinge of jealousy. It’s normal and very natural to feel these feelings.
However, when someone allows jealousy to overtake their mind and creep into every aspect of their life, then they may have problems dealing with this emotion. It can even damage their relationships if they act on their jealous thoughts. It can leave many people feeling very bitter or angry towards their significant other.
Why People Become Jealous
Some people compare themselves to others these days, especially when scanning through social media posts, where we see more intimate details of people’s lives. It’s easy to think others’ lives are much easier, better and more fulfilling than our own. They may see someone else’s strengths, lifestyle, relationship, and successes as a threat, and only see the negative in their own life. This can trigger feelings of not being good enough, not being worthy enough or bring insecurities to the surface.
However, most jealousy happens in romantic relationships. There may be a lack of trust between each other. One person may have experienced betrayal in the past from another ex-partner and now has trust issues with their current partner. Or, one person may have done something to the other that offended or upset them and now they can’t trust their partner.
When two people decide to be in a relationship with each other or agree to monogamy, they are essentially creating a verbal contract between one another. When someone does something that breaks that “contract,” conflict and jealousy can ensue, especially if the couple never defined the value of their “agreement.” This breach of trust can cause a person to react in a jealous manner.
When someone does not feel like they have value or contributes value to the relationship, they might feel unworthy or simply can’t recognize their own strengths and attributes. It is then that jealousy can arise. This person may think they just aren’t good enough and someone else may be better suited for their companion. They have a fear that their loved one may want to look for a replacement or feel that their cherished connection is being threatened.
The critical voices in our heads can lead us to such deep brooding feelings of jealousy. They can foster feelings of self-doubt and instill a level of of criticism that keeps people from feeling truly lovable. When we formulate these fantasies about what we think is going on, we’re really confusing ourselves with what is actually going on. We confuse reality with fantasy and only see what we want to see, which isn’t always the truth or real.
How Jealousy Can Be Harmful to Relationships
When you’re sharing your life with someone, you’re building a level of trust with them. But when you think something is going on behind your back, it’s easy to start a fight, accuse the other person of betraying you or break your commitment to them.
Paranoia is a side effect of jealousy and can lead to terrible consequences. When a person in the relationship starts to take action on their feelings, and it’s not done in the right way, things can start to get ugly. It’s wise to stop, take a deep breath and check in on things with yourself first.
Find out why these jealous feelings are surfacing. Here are some questions to ask:
- Was something breached by your partner?
- Can you talk to them about it?
- Can you focus your attention inward to see why you’re feeling this way?
- How are you viewing your own levels of self-worth and personal values?
- Why do you feel like you are being threatened emotionally?
- Is something stirring from the past that hasn’t been deal with yet?
When a person directs critical thoughts inward and believes these thoughts, they can start to disrupt the connection with their partner. A couple that once was strong may now become weak because of the person’s insecurities getting in the way of the relationship and mores other relationship with the Self. Suddenly the couple is dealing with a lot of drama and conflict. This will threaten the relationship and cause a rift to form between the two people.
How to Overcome and Deal with Jealousy
It is possible to overcome and deal with jealousy issues.
- Evaluate the emotions stirring inside. Reflect back on your past for a moment and see if there are any lingering negative emotions that still need to be dealt with. Maybe there was a traumatizing event that happened to you and you never learned how to cope with it; therefore, those thoughts and feelings will be brought into your relationship. If there aren’t any past emotional issues that are obvious to deal with, then find out why there is this internal conflict happening and do some self-study. Practicing mindfulness will help to calm your racing thoughts and runaway emotions.
- Define your own boundaries. Decide what feels right to you and what level of interactions feel safe. This will help you to recover your personal power so you are able to gain more control over your emotions and refrain from acting in a reactive manner. Identify what triggers such strong emotions within and what core beliefs are being used.
- Learn how to communicate your boundaries with your partner. Open communication is key to any relationship. Sit down with each other and calmly discuss the issues that are arising within you. If you need the other person to be honest with you, then tell them. Express what you need from them to work through these problems.
- Never stop asking for what you need. If jealousy pops up in the moment, learn how to take care of yourself. Figure out what you need to do for you. But you should also learn how to observe and accept your jealous feelings as it’s part of being human. But when you feel like you want to take action on those feelings, stop for a moment and decide if you’re acting on made-up beliefs or reality. Remember that no one has to obey or follow through on poor behavior due to their jealous thoughts.
5. Seek counseling. When intense feelings of jealousy are jeopardizing the relationship, it may be time to seek professional help. Healing Happens Therapy helps to guide couples into a space where they can openly and honestly speak about their feelings and emotions. Jealousy can feel very lonely but with the help and support of a therapist and your loved one, you can overcome it.