Jealousy is an intense emotion that can prevail in a valued relationship. It is triggered when one partner feels threatened or insecure about their partner’s actions or interactions. The threat can also arise from the involvement of a third party.
At Dietrich Institute, we believe a twinge of jealousy is natural and can be considered a sign of care. However, excessive or unhealthy jealousy can lead to the destruction of the relationship. Once the foundation of trust erodes, the relationship can become prone to breaking.
In this blog, we will look at the root causes of jealousy and some effective ways to deal with jealousy in a relationship, emphasizing open communication, self-improvement, and seeking help.
Normal Vs. Unhealthy Jealousy
A certain amount of jealousy is normal. It is temporary and encourages healthy talk between partners. Partners can offer emotional support to each other and discuss boundaries to prevent the trust from breaking.
On the contrary, unhealthy jealousy persists and is accompanied by a lack of trust and insecurity. It can lead to manipulation, gaslighting, and in extreme cases, abuse, be it emotional, mental, verbal, or physical.
Here are some ways normal and unhealthy jealousy is different and should be recognized.
Occasional and Temporary: Normal jealousy is infrequent and does not persist. It arises when specific situations like minor insecurities occur but does not affect the relationship in the long run.
Communication and Understanding: In this situation, partners tend to openly communicate and talk about their feelings and what led to such feelings. One partner understands where the other is coming from without putting accusations.
Trust and Security: Trust and security in the relationship do not fade away; talking about it strengthens the foundation of the relationship. It adds up to the faithfulness they have in each other and alleviates any unnecessary jealousy.
Emotional Support: When both partners openly discuss their feelings of jealousy, they can provide emotional support to each other. Both offer reassurance and understanding and navigate through the insecurities together. Empathy plays a great role in assuring your partner and maintaining their trust.
Setting Boundaries: Setting boundaries helps partners clearly understand what is acceptable to the other and what is not. This helps them respect each other’s boundaries so they can take care of them in the future, preventing excessive insecurities or jealousy.
Persistent and Intense: Unhealthy jealousy comes from deep-rooted insecurities and escalates over time, making it persistent. It often arises from the involvement of a third party or doubting your partner to the extent that it causes distress and tension.
Lack of Communication: In such situations, it gets difficult for partners to openly communicate their feelings of jealousy with each other. Partners tend to keep their feelings inside until they bottle up, leading to destructive behaviors. Such behaviors include blame games, manipulative comments, gaslighting, and controlling, which can damage the relationship.
Lack of Trust: In unhealthy jealousy, the foundation of trust is prone to erode, and feelings of doubting your partners’ actions arise. One of the two partners may constantly fear betrayal or abandonment, which can lead to them being possessive, dominating, and susceptive.
Manipulation and Gas Lighting: One or both of the partners may misuse jealousy for manipulation. They might intentionally trigger jealousy in others to undermine their reality or gain control. The partner involved in such behavior might tell blatant lies and accuse the other of being too emotional to stop the conflict.
Abuse: In worst-case scenarios, unhealthy jealousy can lead one partner to abuse the other. The abuse can be physical, verbal, mental, or emotional just so they can exert control and threaten the other.
Ways to Deal with Jealousy
Understand the Underlying Causes: To effectively deal with jealousy, it is essential to understand the root causes of it. Jealousy, as we know, stems from insecurity, fear of betrayal or abandonment, low self-esteem, or a third party.
Reflecting on common triggers and patterns can help you gain insight into the underlying causes. Notice the patterns, inconsistencies, and excuses your partner makes and how they affect you. Doing so lets you think of ways to address these issues and fix the problem.
Foster Open Communication: Open and honest communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. It is crucial to express feelings and concern to your partner when dealing with jealousy but without blaming them. You can ask questions, share your insecurities, register unacceptable behaviors, and this will help deepen the bond. If you or your partner actively listens to each other, it will help build empathy and understanding.
Build Trust: Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship and is built over time. Both partners should strive to be reliable, consistent, and honest in their words and actions. It is essential to remind yourself of the commitments your relationship is built upon and maintain transparency with your partner. As trust will grow, the feelings of jealousy will vanish.
Focus on Self-Improvement: Working on personal growth and self-esteem can significantly reduce feelings of jealousy. Engaging in activities that promote self-care, such as pursuing hobbies, practicing mindfulness, or seeking therapy, can boost confidence and self-worth. When individuals feel secure and fulfilled, they are less likely to succumb to jealousy.
Practice Empathy and Compromise: Developing empathy towards your partner’s feelings and experiences can help create a more understanding and supportive environment. It is important to recognize that jealousy is often rooted in deeper emotions and insecurities. Finding compromises and mutually beneficial solutions can alleviate jealousy and strengthen the relationship.
Heal Your Past Wounds: Trust issues can be a byproduct of past traumas or negative experiences. Self-reflect and address your wounds to prevent any feelings of insecurity and distrust in your partner. If you take time to process your emotions and self-reflect, you can navigate the emotional burden and sort them out.
You can indulge in self-care activities like journaling, meditation, or any form of art like painting or doodling, etc. Another great idea is to spend time with friends to heal and divert yourself from overthinking.
Consult a Therapist: Do not hesitate to seek a professional if it’s getting hard for you to channel your emotions and manage the negative effects of jealousy. You need to prioritize your sanity and well-being to help protect your relationship.
A therapist can help you identify the underlying causes of your jealousy and explore coping mechanisms and ways to overcome it. They can also provide a safe space to express whatever’s in your heart and mind to gain clarity regarding your feelings.
Seek Couples Therapy: Couples therapy can be a great way for you and your partner to understand and address jealousy issues together. The supportive and unbiased environment of therapy can help you both talk about your feelings and concerns openly. A therapist can guide you through effective ways to rebuild trust, openly communicate, set boundaries and eventually overcome jealousy.
In a relationship, dealing with jealousy can seem daunting, but it isn’t. It just requires patience, understanding, self-awareness, and open communication. Remember, jealousy is a natural and very normal emotion and should be addressed healthily. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if it gets out of your hands. Your relationship and trust in each other should be your priority, and anything that comes in the way should be erased.
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- Stritof, S. (2022). How to Deal With Jealousy in a Relationship. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/overcome-jealousy-in-your-marriage-2303979