Most people have experienced a measure of jealousy in relationships, especially if they notice someone else paying a lot of attention to their partner. In addition, it’s plausible that an occasional flash of jealousy can serve as a reminder of how much you value your partner. However, if you’re frequently experiencing jealousy, it can make you increasingly miserable, causing everything from blazing arguments to increasingly paranoid suspicions.
Is your jealousy interfering with your life and hurting both you and your partner? Here are six tips that can help you begin to overcome them.
#1. Candidly discuss jealousy with your partner
If you’re aware that jealousy is a problem for you, try to help your partner understand what you’re going through. Don’t wait until you’re caught up in a frenzy of anxiety and are likely to engage in an angry confrontation about your fears.
Instead, choose a time when you feel you can be more rational and open, let your partner know that you’re aware of how jealousy can cause problems in the relationship, and explain that you want to work on this issue.
Then, if you feel able, reflect on the roots of your jealousy (such as past betrayals or witnessing infidelity in your family of origin), and share some of that self-knowledge with your partner to facilitate understanding and closeness.
#2. Try to see the difference between real and imagined threats
Sometimes, jealousy is an important sign that your partner isn’t sticking to an agreement to be monogamous—for example, if you find out that you’re being lied to about the time they’re spending with someone else. Further, jealousy may be triggered when your partner seems unaware of what you take to be obvious signs of interest from another person.
You may feel fundamentally disrespected by this person and worry that your partner could be being manipulated. In these cases, jealousy is telling you something useful about the external world.
However, many cases of chronic jealousy merely reflect perceived threats, telling you much more about yourself and the dynamic between you and your partner than about other people’s intentions. Are you in fear of a breakup every time your partner makes a polite conversation with a woman behind a counter in a store, and do you see every new Facebook friendship as a sign of potential infidelity?
These latter types of cases tell you that it’s likely your perception of your partner (and those around them) that might be the actual threat to the relationship .
#3. Practice “thought to stop” or time-limited thinking
Suppose you think that your jealousy is not productive and doesn’t reflect anything significant about your partner’s trustworthiness. In that case, it can be helpful to implement strategies designed to limit jealousy’s power over your everyday life.
One such example is thought to stop, which involves saying “No !” (or an analogously firm word/phrase) each time you feel yourself starting to obsess over jealous thoughts. Others find it helpful to picture a red light or a stop sign. Alternatively, you might limit the amount of time you allow yourself to spend on thoughts about jealousy, gradually reducing that amount of time as the weeks pass.
#4. Avoid accusations
If you want to know more about a person in your partner’s life because you’re feeling jealous, ask for that information instead of presenting your worst fears as facts. In other words, instead of saying something like “I just know you have feelings for your colleague!” opt for “I may be off base here, but I’m feeling a bit insecure about something and would like to ask you about it. ”
Then, assuming you’ve followed the advice mentioned above and let your partner know that jealousy is a difficult issue for you, it will be easier to make respectful and cautious inquiries without starting enormous fights.
#5. Consider therapy
If jealousy is a major source of conflict or unhappiness for you and your partner, seeing a relationship counselor can help you empathize with each other and build new strategies for effective communication. Meanwhile, suppose jealousy mainly influences your quality of life and hasn’t yet bled over into your relationship. In that case, individual counseling may be sufficient to help you better understand—and thereby overcome—these negative feelings.