Envy was one of the original Seven Deadly Sins, but jealousy is just as dangerous to relationships. Envy and jealousy are often used interchangeably, but they are different by definition. Here I’m going to help you learn how to deal with jealousy, whether that is because you need to stop being jealous yourself, or control and stop jealousy of a girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse.
Why You Might Feel Envious
First lets clear up the difference between envy and jealousy. There are times when a partner’s may feel envious of his or her partner’s success, health or wellbeing. The only time I’ve ever felt envy was when my husband and I set up our own business. He’s started doing really well after a year, while I found myself struggling.
The contrast made me insecure and for the first time in our relationship I found myself envious of my partner’s success. I quickly told him how I felt; though it made us both uncomfortable. It isn’t always pleasant admitting your insecurities to your partner, but once you have an honest conversation and assessment of your feelings, this clears the way for solutions. After admitting my true feelings, we both agreed his success was my success. Instead of wasting my energies on unprofitable clients, I could help him win new business. I’m happy to report our business is doing better than ever, now that we shifted responsibility.
The story had a happy ending, but what if we hadn’t communicated or what if my husband dismissed my feelings as childish or immature? We wouldn’t have grown together. Instead, we might have grown apart as my insecurities festered or I felt the need to prove myself in business. This is why communication is so essential. Without it, couples drift apart over the years.
The same is true of jealousy. It needs to be talked about out in the open in a positive and proactive manner.
Why You Might Feel Jealousy
While envy comes from a coveting or wanting something, jealousy comes from a desire to own or possess.
If your partner is jealous, he or she is most likely fearful of losing you. Jealousy is rooted in both fear and love. The more we love the more fearful we become of losing someone or something dear to us. Talking about our feelings can dull our insecurities and help us connect with our partner. However, beware of talking about your feelings 24/7, you don’t want to stifle your other half.
Strangely, jealousy can be flattering. At first, we delight in seeing our partner’s jealousy as it confirms he or she truly cares about us. However, this quickly wears off, when we become restricted from doing the things we love and seeing friends and family.
Sometimes, jealousy is culturally sanctioned. Certain societies allow, if not condone, jealousy and the abuse which comes hand and hand with it. If you were brought up to believe a man should be jealous of the woman he loves or women should accept jealousy as a necessary and unavoidable fact of life, it’s time you reassessed these values.
Jealousy is neither flattering nor romantic. You can respect your culture, while standing up for yourself.
If you suspect you or your partner may suffer from jealousy, read below to see what you can do about it.
Early Stage Jealousy (Insecurity)
-You constantly wonder what your partner is thinking or doing.
-You spend a considerable amount of your time playing through scenarios, ‘what ifs’ or asking friends or family for advice and comfort.
-You were cheated on in a previous relationship and have trust issues.
-Your relationships tend to explode before burning out completely. People have described you as “needy”, “intense” or “controlling” in the past.
What to do: Many of has experienced early stage jealousy without it causing harm to our relationships. By focusing on communication and building your self-confidence, many of these problematic behaviors resolve themselves. However, if you find yourself ticking off traits from the more advanced stages of jealousy, it may be time you considered counseling or therapy to deal with your trust issues.
*If you are on the receiving end of jealousy, work on building positive, but firm boundaries with your partner. Assure your partner you love him or her, but don’t give into bad behavior.
2nd Stage Jealousy (Paranoia)
-You check your partner’s emails, mail and phone for clues or reassurance without permission.
-You habitually check your partner’s clothes or car without motive or cause for concern.
-You grill your partner every time he or she goes out with friends or family (without you).
-You text or call your partner multiple times when he or she is out.
-You constantly ask your partner if he or she finds someone attractive.
-You discourage your partner from looking attractive to the opposite sex.
What to do: It’s critical you address these destructive behaviors and the root cause of them immediately. Find where your obsessions or paranoia originates. Whether it’s your childhood or a relationship that went sour, you have to find ways to neutralize these bad memories. Otherwise you will end up punishing your partner for crimes he or she never committed.
Be honest and realistic. Would you want to be with someone that grilled you every time you went out or opened your mail without your permission? Love is about trust, the more we trust the more we free ourselves from the negative emotions of fear.
*If you partner constantly grills you about every move you make, it’s time you considered relationship counseling. If you constantly appease by answering obsessive lines of questioning, you are opening the door for greater emotion and physical abuse down the line.
Final stage Jealousy (Emotional and/or Physical Abuse)
-You shout at your partner, often in public.
-You are not adverse to criticizing or humiliating your partner if you feel he or she has wronged you.
-You push or intimidate your partner, especially after a night out.
-You get aggressive or violent after you drink.
-You try to control the way your partner dresses, eats or acts.
-You claim you limit your partner’s choices or control behavior in the name of love.
-You make thinly veiled threats or have hit your partner in a fit of rage.
What to do: In most cases, abuse becomes irreconcilable once the victim realizes the extent of his or her mistreatment. In some cases, the victimized partner unknowingly condones or enables the behavior of the abuser. However, as soon as the victimized partner realizes his or her value, this usually results in the relationship coming to an abrupt end.
If you have ever hit your partner or exhibited controlling behavior, you will need to attend anger management classes and seek extensive counseling for jealousy and/or trust issues. If you do not take ownership of your behavior, it will cause serious harm to you and your loved ones further down the line.
*If your partner has ever threatened to hurt you or has physically harmed you, you will need to take measures to ensure you are safe while your partner is attending counseling. There is no excuse for physical or emotional abuse.
Dealing with Jealousy in Relationships Conclusion:
Jealousy is one of the most complex human emotions.
If you suffer from jealousy, take time to understand your fears. Jealousy often comes from an unhappiness or insecurity deep within us. Once we resolve this unhappiness or insecurity, the jealousy quickly disappears.
If your partner is jealous take time to empathize with his or her perspective. These feelings may be pointing to a bigger issue within your relationship. You will both be happier when the problem is addressed.
Good luck and love to you
Love from The Love Queen