Jealousy is an expression of emotion. Jealousy is often about fear and the need to control. When feeling threatened, vulnerable or powerless, people can feel jealous. The green-eyed monster can surface at any point in a relationship. You might not think you’re a jealous person, but have you ever been tested?
Look at the following scenarios and imagine what you would do.
Your partner is away on a business trip and you’ve rung and left a message for them to call you. It’s 11 p.m. now and they still haven’t rung back.
- start to worry what they’re doing?
- begin to picture a romantic dinner they’re having?
- get on with your night?
- ring every 10 minutes?
You’re at a party and your partner has spent the last two hours talking to a good-looking friend.
- join in on the conversation?
- start flirting with the next person you see?
- laugh it off?
You’re out having a relaxing week-end breakfast with your partner when their mobile phone rings. They look at the number and don’t answer it. The person doesn’t leave a message.
- ask who called?
- get suspicious because they usually answer their phone?
- hang out for them to pay the bill so that you can grab the phone and see the number?
- assume they didn’t want to be bothered with speaking while they’re eating?
You wake at 4 a.m. and your partner is not in bed. You get up and find that they are on the computer but sitting in such a way that you can’t see the screen.
- tell them to come back to bed because you miss them?
- move closer to a place where you can see the screen?
- make a joke about them having an online lover?
- accuse them of having cyber sex with a gorgeous stranger?
It’s 2 a.m. on a weeknight and your partner is still not home from that work dinner. You had been warned it could be a late night.
- wonder which would be worse – an accident or your partner being with someone else?
- have a fleeting idea that your partner could have lied about a work dinner and has spent the night with someone else?
- assume they are having an affair and are in their lover’s arms right now?
- thank your lucky stars that you’re not out on the town because you have an early start in the morning?
How do you score?
If most of your answers indicate that you trusted your partner and you could dismiss any idea of feeling threatened by the situation, then you’re showing little or no jealousy. On the other hand, if most of your answers indicate that you have little trust in your partner and doubts about their commitment, then you are showing signs of jealousy that you might need to work on.
If you find that you feel jealous most of the time then you need to look at your self-concept. Jealousy is possessiveness. But, the truth is, we can never possess anybody. We cannot own another person. Nor can we control a person to the extent that they can’t have contact with anybody of the opposite sex.
Learning to develop clear thinking skills when you find you’re feeling jealous is a good start. Challenge your negative thoughts and find positive ways of reinforcing what you and your partner have together that’s so special. Develop your self-esteem and don’t look for ways to have your partner reassure you or build your self-esteem for you.
If it’s your partner who’s jealous it’s up to them to work on their jealousy. But you can help them. Try to empathise and not be too annoyed when they turn into that green-eyed monster. Building and maintaining a healthy relationship means not hiding things from each other, but also not having to reassure each other constantly either.
Developing a good sense of yourself and who you are – and how lovable you really are will have the positive consequence of having you feel not only good about yourself, but also less doubtful about your partner’s feelings and behaviour.
Work towards increasing the trust level between you and valuing each other for your ability to be interdependent but also secure, autonomous adults who can interact with attractive strangers without causing insecurity in you or trouble in your relationship.
For more about relationships and how to survive them, see The Rules of Love.