First of all, jealousy isn’t necessarily a sign you have the self-esteem of a dustbin or that you’re insanely insecure; scientists believe we developed jealousy as an evolutionary defence. Without jealousy and a certain amount of possessiveness, we wouldn’t care enough to protect our family from invading tribes. Some psychologists even speculate that jealousy is actually a sign of HIGH self-esteem, and the fact that you demand a lot from your relationships. Whatever you believe, the truth is that jealousy only becomes an issue when it causes you to act in ways that damage your relationship. But often, when you’re in the middle of the green mist, you can’t tell that you’re being destructive. Here’s what to do, and not to do.
1.DO confess your jealousy – to yourself
An attack of jealousy often feels like something else. You might tell yourself you’re “justifiably angry” that your partner is staying for after-work drinks again, or laughing too much with that blonde, or spending too much time at the gym. You might start picking apart the relationship, looking for reasons to leave. Stop! The first step to overcoming jealousy is to admit you feel it. Feel the fear, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “Wow. I feel really butt-kick jealous right now.” Acknowledging your emotions is a good way of isolating them. Just sit with the feeling and don’t act on it.
2.DON’T confess your jealousy to your partner
It’s probably not unhealthy to let your partner know you’re feeling jealous, but I don’t like it. It puts you in the “one-down” position, seeking reassurance, and it’s very hard for them to convince you that you’re safe. Irrationally, you’ll just feel they’re paying you lip-service. Instead, confess your jealousy to a friend or family member. You know the right person: the one who sees your best side and will boost you up. Again, acknowledging your emotions will help keep them under control.
3.DO consider why you feel jealous
Do you have genuine reasons to mistrust your partner’s fidelity, or are you just being down on yourself? Are you usually prone to feeling this way, or just with this person? Do you somehow feel they’re out of your league, and will leave at the first opportunity, or do you believe you have nothing to offer anyone? If you always feel jealous, it’s time to seek counselling. But if it’s just this once, then ask yourself why you’ve put this particular partner on a pedestal. Are you feeling down about yourself right now? Are you unhappy with your career, appearance, social life? Take positive, practical steps to improve how you see yourself. In particular…
4.DON’T ignore the pattern of your jealousy
If certain situations or people trigger your jealousy, pay attention. These are the areas you want to improve about yourself. For example, if you feel worried when your partner goes out with work colleagues, think about why that might be: do you secretly worry you are less confident, creative or intelligent than them? Do you dislike your own job? Take steps to fix that, so you like yourself. Or, if you panic only when your partner talks to people of a certain physical type, is that because you are dissatisfied with your own appearance? Work on it! Don’t change yourself to become what you think your partner wants; change for YOU so you can see why you are lovable.
5.DO avoid partners who try to spark your jealousy
Insecure people sometimes deliberately try to ignite their partners’ jealousy, because they enjoy feeling needed and in control. Your jealousy is their ego-boost. If you suspect your partner is trying to make you feel jealous, by routinely chatting-up others, or telling you how many people flirt with him, hiding his mobile phone, or going out regularly to notorious pick-up joints, then pity him while you’re packing your stuff. The best partners celebrate their relationships publically, and give support, reassurance and reliability as standard. Don’t stay with people who try to keep you down; look for someone whose pride and joy in you lifts you up. They are out there.