They say jealousy is like mental cancer, always ruining people’s sense of security and joy. It’s one of the harmful negative emotions that can chew away the satisfaction of being in a strong relationship. That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to not be jealous in a relationship because extreme to mild jealousy is common between partners. However, it needs to be controlled and dealt with as soon as possible.
To find out why some people harbor obsessive jealousy in relationships and how to develop healthy coping skills, we reached out to psychologist Aakhansha Varghese (M.Sc. Psychology), who specializes in different forms of relationship counseling – from dating to breakups, and premarital to abusive relationships.
She says, “It’s really important to have some sensitivity around feelings of jealousy. Usually, when a person imagines or visualizes jealousy, a red monster pops up. While this visualization is truly accurate, we become so engrossed in pointing fingers at the jealous person that we forget to figure out its roots and why it has stemmed inside them.”
Why Do I Get Jealous In My Relationship?
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According to studies, you feel jealous when you think someone is better than you. Furthermore, humans are often consciously aware of being jealous or envious of someone. Most of the actual reasons behind this jealousy are buried in our unconscious mind and we disguise this emotion by rationalizing them.
Being insecure and jealous in a relationship doesn’t mean it’s time to break it off and find someone else to date. It means there are underlying issues that are unresolved and need to be looked at closely. Romantic relationships are built on love, communication, trust, and respect. Sometimes, a person may feel threatened and insecure when they feel something is missing from the above ingredients.
Other times, there could be some outside elements involved in arousing unhealthy jealousy. Aakhansha shares, “When we enter a new relationship, more often than not, we carry the baggage of past relationship experiences. We sometimes don’t heal properly and jump into a new life. It’s a poor attempt to numb the pain and hurt. Some of these insecurities and vulnerabilities get addressed in the new relationship in the form of jealousy and problematic behaviors.”
Listed below are other common reasons that a person could feel jealous in their relationship:
- Low self-esteem
- Perhaps one partner earns more or is considered more good-looking than the other
- Your past relationship experiences and traumas
- One of the partners is emotionally immature and doesn’t know how to communicate their needs or concerns
- Unrealistic expectations
- One of them is a narcissist and purposefully makes their partner feel jealous
Research proves that grandiose narcissists induce jealousy as means to acquire power and control. On the other hand, vulnerable narcissists induce jealousy as a means to acquire power and control, exact revenge on the partner, test and strengthen the relationship, seek security, and compensate for low self-esteem.
15 Expert Tips On How To Not Be Jealous In A Relationship
Feeling jealous is a natural human emotion but you need to find out how to tackle it when it begins to prevent you and your partner from having a fulfilling relationship. Here are a few expert tips on how to stop being jealous and to feel secure with your partner.
1. Understand the feeling of jealousy
Aakhansha says, “Feelings are not facts. They aren’t the gospel truth. When you are feeling jealous in your relationship, sometimes it’s the perception you’ve created within rather than what’s happening on the outside. It’s not what your partner is doing. It’s the meaning you make out of your partner’s actions and behavior.”
Here are some ways you can try to understand jealousy:
- Understand the meanings you are associating with your partner’s actions
- Try to analyze if your feelings are facts and if they are not, then try to understand why you want them to be your reality
- For example, if your jealousy is telling you that your partner likes your friend’s physical appearance more than yours, then immediately address this feeling with follow-up questions like: “Is that how my partner actually feels?” “Has my partner ever made me feel bad about my looks?” “Is it my insecurity about my physical features acting up?” “Do I just miss getting emotional validation from my partner?”
2. Talk about it openly with your partner
Being overly jealous in a relationship will prevent you from having any kind of personal growth. You will be stuck in a toxic cycle where you look at others and feel envious of their success and happiness. Talk to your partner about this and let them know that you are experiencing feelings of jealousy and don’t know how to deal with them. This will also increase emotional intimacy between the two of you.
You need to make sure you don’t make them feel guilty for your feelings, though. Nobody likes to constantly deal with an overly jealous partner. So, don’t point fingers and try to play the blame game because blame-shifting in a relationship can cause serious problems between partners. Instead, use “I” statements that depict your feelings. Discuss how you want to deal with the situation rather than overthinking on your own and creating a mess out of a solvable issue.
3. Don’t be in a rush to act on your negative emotions
Aakhansha says, “When you are dealing with unhealthy jealousy, sometimes, you tend to act on your feelings. You end up fighting with your partner because you saw them smiling at your friend who is richer or smarter than you. You come back home and rain down hell on them. This is what it means to act on negative emotions in an unhealthy way. Don’t let these jealous thoughts consume you and get the better of you.”
Here are some tips on how you can decrease distressing feelings of envy, comparison, and jealousy:
- Take a deep breath
- Go for a walk, take some space, and give yourself time to feel the emotion
- Even if you want to talk to your partner about this, be gentle with them. Don’t start accusing them of infidelity
- Try to journal your negative thoughts first
- Get rid of jealousy by meditating when you are angry and low
Related Reading: 10 Must-Follow Healthy Relationship Boundaries
4. Accept that jealousy is a sign of insecurity
Research has shown that jealousy is a complex experience, and is related to many constructs like self-esteem, dependency, insecurity, loss of control, and involvement. A negative relationship was demonstrated to exist between self-esteem and jealousy.
How to stop being jealous? By accepting that it’s a sign of insecurity. Here are some ways you can get rid of jealousy:
- Don’t avoid your feelings – that’s not how you decrease distressing feelings of insecurity
- Confront them gently without judgment
- Learn how to date yourself and take care of yourself on your own
- If you can do something for self-improvement, set realistic goals for yourself
- Have a mindset that you are your own competition
- Challenge your negative thoughts whenever they occur
- Give yourself positive affirmations
5. Take responsibility for your triggers
Aakhansha says, “Stop telling your partner that you are feeling jealous because of them. Sometimes, you are insecure and jealous in a relationship because of your own insecurities that have nothing to do with your loved one. Be responsible for how you feel and tell them that you will deal with these complex emotions without making anybody else bear the brunt of it.”
Don’t hurl accusations at your other half. Don’t fight with your friend because you think they could be having an affair with your spouse/partner. You can’t really prove anything if you don’t have any evidence. When there is no proof, it’s just paranoia and low self-esteem. So, before you jump the gun and ruin your relationship, take responsibility for your triggers.
6. See if there are any unmet needs in your relationship
If you are asking, “Why am I so jealous and insecure in my relationship?”, try to see if there are any unmet emotional needs or physical needs and desires. Here are some things you can ask yourself:
- Are my concerns being validated in this relationship?
- Am I being heard by my partner?
- Why do I no longer feel like I am good enough for my partner?
- Why do I constantly feel like others are better than me?
7. Tell your partner their statements are hurting you
Aakhansha says, “If your partner has said that your friend looks better than you or has made you feel inferior to them because you earn less or aren’t as ‘good-looking’ as them, then let them know that these statements further trigger your insecurities and are damaging your self-esteem. Your partner needs to understand that such things can’t be uttered in a loving and healthy relationship.”
In such cases, it’s completely normal to feel envious of someone’s looks and appearance. This doesn’t mean that your other half has fallen in love with them. This doesn’t mean you’ll go snooping around your partner’s phone trying to check if they are secretly talking to your friend. Stop having internal battles with yourself. Talk to them. Tell them that this is causing you to develop negative and difficult emotions.
8. Deal with your past traumas
When there are so many unresolved issues hiding under the carpet, envy and insecurities are bound to creep up once the honeymoon phase fades. If you still feel insecure and think that your partner may cheat on you or doesn’t prioritize you (because that’s what your ex did), then you need to heal from your past.
Here are some things you can do to heal your past traumas:
- Try to have a closure conversation with your former partner if possible
- Don’t let the way they treated you become a weighing scale for how your new partner might/should treat you
- Don’t hold your new partner accountable for your previous partner’s shortcomings
- Grieve the past relationship if you still haven’t, talk about how it made you feel with loved ones or a therapist
- Give yourself time to heal and focus on personal growth
Related Reading: 15 Signs You Are In A Serious Relationship
9. Deal with retroactive jealousy the right way
Retroactive jealousy in a relationship is when you are jealous of your partner’s past. You perceive it as a threat to your ongoing relationship with them. If you’re a jealous partner who doesn’t know how to identify signs of retroactive jealousy, here they are:
- Constantly questioning your partner’s past
- Stalking their ex on social media
- Talking to their friends and finding out where they went on holidays
- Bringing their ex up frequently to see their reaction
If you are showing such signs of obsessive jealousy in relationships, then you need to write down everything in your journal, see where your thoughts lead you, talk to your partner, and steer clear of social media for a while. You’ll need to stop comparing your relationship to something that doesn’t even exist today.
10. Learn how to trust your partner
Trust is one of the key factors that keeps romantic relationships healthy, safe, and reliable. According to research, when a relationship lacks trust, it allows detrimental cognitive patterns to develop such as negative attributions, suspicion, and jealousy.
When there are trust issues in your relationship, this could be the impact:
- Your partner’s privacy shall be compromised. You’ll suspect them of cheating on you and check their phone for proof or track their movements
- Constant suspicion will damage your partner’s mental health, and yours as well
- There are even chances of them breaking it off with you if you don’t learn how to trust them
11. Raise your self-confidence
Confidence is when you start trusting and appreciating your abilities, judgment, and qualities. What are you proud of? What makes you feel good about yourself?
When asked on Reddit how to stop being insecure and jealous in a relationship, a user replied, “Jealousy has a lot to do with your self-confidence. If you are feeling insecure within yourself, there is nothing your partner could do or say to alleviate it for you. You will need to work on your own self-esteem and do things that make you feel more confident.”
12. Practice gratitude
Research shows that gratitude has positive effects on many aspects of our life, such as subjective well-being, life satisfaction, social and personal relationships. It can also help us relieve negative emotions like envy and jealousy.
Count your blessings. Take time out every day to journal all the things you are grateful for. Also, see how much you’ve grown with your current partner and all the positive traits you like about them. This will make you feel better about your relationship growth and how far you’ve both come along.
13. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is being aware of your sensations and feelings at the present moment. When you are being consumed by romantic jealousy, feel the moment completely before you act on the emotion. Let a few minutes pass before you speak about it.
Here are some other ways you can practice mindfulness:
- Deep breathing
- Guided imagery
- Remind yourself about your values – it’s okay if your present feelings don’t reflect your values. This conflict is normal and temporary
- Meditation (yoga, Tai Chi)
- Accept yourself and the things you can’t change
14. Take a break from the relationship
Aakhansha shares, “There is nothing wrong in taking a relationship break when you want to focus on your mental well-being. Jealousy leads to a lot of mental agony. This can become a roadblock for you and your partner to connect on a deeper level. If nothing works, come to a mutual understanding and take a break from the relationship.”
You can establish ground rules while taking a break in a relationship. The rules can be anything ranging from not dating anyone else to communicating on a weekly basis for a mutual check-in and to remind the other that you are still in each other’s lives.
15. Seek professional help
If you think jealousy is the sole villain, you couldn’t be more wrong. Jealousy comes with other negative feelings like anger, hostility, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness, and disgust. You sometimes even feel humiliated for being envious of your own sibling or friend.
If you are still asking, “Why am I so jealous and insecure in my relationship?”, then it’s evident that you aren’t able to understand your own behavior and manage all these feelings in a healthy way. It’s best to reach out to a mental health expert. At Bonobology, we offer professional help through our panel of licensed advisors who can help you embark on a path toward recovery.
- Mild jealousy is a common human emotion but you need to curb it before it begins to shatter your own insecurities and becomes too extreme to handle
- One of the reasons you could be feeling such bitterness could stem from your past relationship problems
- You can deal with jealousy by understanding your triggers, communicating with your partner, and seeking professional help
Your day-to-day life can become an inconvenience when you are constantly drowned in jealousy. Use the tips in this article to help you heal as time goes by. Be patient, and remember that you can overcome jealousy together as a team. If they are the right person for you, they won’t mind going through all the ups and downs with you. A healthier relationship awaits you.