Jealousy in relationships is never a pleasant experience. Neither for the partner who seethes with this emotion nor for the one who is at the receiving end of it. In words of famous author William Penn, “The jealous are troublesome to others but a torment to themselves.”
Yes, it is also one of the most common human emotions that each of us experiences now and then. However, when one person operates from a place of obsessive jealousy, the equation between partners can become overwhelmingly toxic.
Do you ever find yourself wondering why am I jealous in a relationship? Read on to find out what you can to process and handle this emotion before it takes a toll on your relationship:
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10 Signs Of Jealousy In A Relationship
Jealousy in a relationship is a way of exercising control. When a person fears losing a partner or feels insecure in their relationship, jealousy begins to take hold. It’s the mind’s desperate move to hold on to something that it fears might slip away.
To quote popular novelist Robert A Heinlein, “A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.”
However, the more obsessive jealousy in relationships grows, the wider wedge it drives between partners. Has your partner ever called you out for your jealous tendencies? Does that leave you puzzled?
1. Desire to be together all the time
Wanting to be with your partner at all times on the pretext that you miss them too much is a sign of insecurity. This soon gives way to feelings of jealousy. For instance, you may start feeling jealous of the co-workers your partner hangs out with occasionally. Or their friends.
To your mind, they are eating into your time together. However, this can be an extremely suffocating experience for your partner. Making them feel as if they’re a prisoner in the relationship.
You may think you’re acting from a place of love. But is jealousy a sign of love? Can it ever be? No. This behavior is, at best, a reflection of a selfish love. Not a giving, holistic love that makes relationships thrive.
2. Checking on your partner points to jealousy in a relationship
Repeated calls and texts to check on your partner whenever you’re apart points to obsessive jealousy in a relationship. You may find yourself obsessing over what your partner may be up to and always making up worst-case scenarios in your head.
They may be running late because they got stuck in traffic or a meeting at work got prolonged. However, you’re convinced that they’re either cheating on you or hanging out with friends in secret. This can further fuel the feelings to jealousy you’re grappling with. In such cases, jealousy stems from a lack of trust in the relationship.
If you don’t correct course, it’s only a matter of time before your partner gets tired of always having to explain themselves to you and decides to walk away.
3. They’re not ‘allowed’ to have a social life
If the prospect of your partner spending an evening away from you and with their friends makes you angry and unsettled, you’re excessively jealous in your relationship. You may try to forbid them from having a social life of their own or try to disarm them with the ‘me or them’ tantrum.
If nothing works out, you decide to tag along because you can’t bear the thought of them out in the world without you. The fact that you think you can ‘allow’ or ‘forbid’ your partner from doing something, signals to a need for control in the relationship.
This is one of the most unhealthy signs of jealousy in the relationship. One that is bound to lead to a host of problems between you two.
4. Your partner can’t talk to someone from the opposite sex
You know it well. If you see your partner talking to someone from the gender they prefer sexually, all hell would break loose. Forget talking, even if they look at someone long enough for you to notice or talk about a friend or colleague with you, you can feel a gut-wrenching sense of jealousy build up inside.
Any attention to the others triggers in you the insecurity that you’re not good enough or that your partner will either cheat on your or leave you for another person.
5. Checking phone, social media shows jealousy in relationships
Do you expect your partner to hand over their phone to you for scrutiny as and when you demand? Or do you check their phone secretly? Do you scan their social media activity with a fine-tooth comb? And then go and stalk every person who’s commented or reacted on their posts or whose posts your partner has engaged with?
By doing this long enough, you inevitably find something or someone that disturbs you to no end. Even if there is no substantial reason for you to feel this way. It’s a classic sign that you’re being jealous in a relationship.
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6. Accusations of cheating are signs of jealousy in a relationship
Being jealous in a relationship has gripped your mind space to such an extent that a part of you is convinced that your partner is cheating on you. You see them chatting with an attractive person, you think they’re sleeping together.
They give a passerby a second glance, you accuse them of wanting to get into their pants. They have a close work relationship with a colleague, you’re convinced they’re banging secretly.
Even though you have no basis to support these theories, you don’t think twice before hurling accusations at your partner.
7. You flirt to make your partner jealous
You feel jealous of anyone and everyone in your partner’s life. You’re convinced that you’re being cheated on. Most of all, you want their attention. To this end, you start flirting with others, especially when your partner is around.
This not only gives your sense of self-worth a boost but also riles up your partner. In some twisted way, you’re giving them the taste of your medicine. Making them feel the way you feel when gripped with feelings of obsessive jealousy in relationships.
8. Jealousy in relationships extends to their family too
Jealousy in relationships isn’t just triggered by friends, co-workers or outsiders. As a jealous partner, you may even start despising your significant other’s family. If your partner is close with their mother, you’d naturally start acting territorial with her.
If they have a family tradition to spend Thanksgiving together, you may try every trick in the book to get your partner to ditch this annual ritual and be with you instead. Even if, you’re invited too.
It all circle backs to having your partner all yourself. Their family’s affection becomes a hurdle in that pursuit.
9. You give your partner guilt trips
Let’s say your partner has plans to go partying with their friends over a weekend, and you have begrudgingly, accepted it. You pretend to forget all about the said party, avoid talking about it at all, and then go ahead and make plans of your own – of course, something that involves your partner.
You tell them that you’ve cooked an elaborate meal for the two of you. Or that you’ve booked a beautiful BnB somewhere in the countryside for the weekend.
When they remind you that they already have plans, you give them a guilt trip for prioritizing their friends over you. If you start exhibiting these patterns of jealousy early in a relationship, sticking by you for the long haul may become a challenge.
10. Constant fights are a sign of jealousy in a relationship
Yes, of course, every couple fights, bickers and argues. But picking up constant fights with your partner over anything and everything they do is one of the signs of jealousy in a relationship.
You pick fights over a cup kept in the wrong place, sock left lying around, music being played too loud, your partner choosing to read a book or watch a show rather than talk to you. These fights are never about these silly issues.
Something your partner said or did may have triggered your jealous tendencies. Instead of addressing those negative emotions, you end up channelizing them through such outbursts. This can make your partner feel like they’re always walking on eggshells around you.
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7 Effective Ways To Deal With Jealousy In A Relationship
Now that you know that signs of jealousy in a relationship, and if you identify with most of them, you must learn how to deal with jealousy in a relationship. Otherwise, these toxic tendencies may take a toll on the bond you share with your partner, further fueling your insecurities, fear and denting your self-esteem.
Here are 7 effective ways to deal with jealousy in a relationship.
1. Understand the reasons for jealousy in relationships
Insecurity, fear and low self-esteem have been identified as the main reasons for jealousy in relationships. Often, these vulnerabilities are a result of your past experiences. Perhaps, you have been cheated on in the past, which can lead to trust issues. These trust issues may have become the core reason for your jealousy.
You must strive to become more resilient to the wounds of your past.
When you find yourself being jealous in a relationship, remain conscious of the fact that you’ve moved on from your past and are now in a new relationship. Your present partner is not your ex. Do not transfer the emotional baggage of the past on to your present and future.
2. Don’t let jealousy consume you
Obsessive jealousy in relationships takes root when you start letting your feeling control your thoughts and actions to point that it starts to consume you. Yes, not acting the way you feel can be one of the hardest things to do. But you have to make an effort.
For instance, if you’re jealous of your partner’s interactions with another person, remind yourself that it is you who they chose to be with. If they wanted to date this other person, they would have. At the same time, remind yourself that your partner cannot lead an isolated life to quell your fears or insecurities.
You don’t have to suppress your feelings but learn to reason with yourself. This way the negative emotions will not become a driving force in your life.
3. Focus on facts to stop being jealous in a relationship
Let’s say your partner went out with their friends or has been traveling a lot for work, and your jealous tendencies are telling you that it’s because they don’t want to spend time with you. But that’s your interpretation. Not a fact.
‘An effective way to stop being jealous in a relationship is to channelize your focus on the facts – what you know and what you don’t, as opposed to what you believe. That can help you stop making up stories to fill the gaps that exist in your mind.
This Bob Marley quote on jealousy sums it perfectly, “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”
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4. Share your jealousy with your partner
Once you understand the jealousy in relationships psychology, dealing with it becomes easier. Now that you’re aware of what triggers these negative emotions in you, disarm them by letting your partner in on your vulnerabilities.
The next time you feel jealous about something your partner has said or done, share your feeling with them. But without accusations or picking up a fight. If talking about these directly is too difficult for you, you can try using humor to take the edge off a sensitive topic.
This can be especially helpful if you and your partner have had several fights about the same thing in the past. Alternatively, you can also try the diplomatic approach in conveying your feelings. For instance, if you feel jealous of a particular person in their life.
Tell them that even though you trust that they’ll never cheat on you, their relationship with X has been bothering you. Ask them to consider your feelings about this issue.
5. Be empathetic toward your partner
It’s not an easy task to deal with a jealous partner. The constant scrutiny, lack of trust, accusations and fights can get to anybody. The fact that your partner has stuck around, despite it all, says a lot about how much the relationship means to them.
The next time you’re overcome by feelings of jealousy, try to look at the situation from your partner’s perspective. Be empathetic toward them. How would you have felt if you had to deal with a jealous partner? If you’ve been on the receiving end of jealousy in relationships, you’ll be able to relate to their state of mind a whole lot better.
Being mindful of this aspect can help you rein in your tendency to lash out when consumed with jealousy.
6. Build trust in end jealousy in relationships
Whether you have been experiencing jealousy early in a relationship or developed it somewhere along the way, the existence of this emotion is rooted in a lack of trust. Perhaps, your partner did something to dent this trust. Or you’re carrying trust issues from your past.
Building trust in your relationship is the perfect antidote to jealousy. If you and your partner have certain unresolved issues, work on them together as a team, to be able to trust each other completely. You can also consider going into couples therapy. The guidance and counselling provided by a licensed therapist can steer your efforts in the right direction.
Work on self-growth
Once you understand the reasons for jealousy in relationships and your own triggers, work on weeding them out. In that sense, this green-eyed monster can also be a great teacher. It gives you a chance to look within and explore your shortcomings.
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7. Work on self-growth
To weed it out, you must focus on overcoming these shortcomings with self-growth. For instance, if you suffer from low self-esteem, work on building your confidence. You can sign up for workshops, learn new skills or work with a counsellor to make the right changes in your perception of yourself.
Similarly, if the fear of being felt alone makes you jealous, go out more, cultivate a hobby, connect with new people, make friends. Having a social life of your own will make you see why your partner needs theirs too.
A lot of people confuse jealousy as a manifestation of love and continue to let this toxic tendency plague their relationships.
So, is jealousy a sign of love? We’ll answer that question in the words of Saint Augustine, “He that is jealous is not in love.” Jealousy and love cannot co-exist. If you value your relationship with your partner, you have to learn to rein in and overcome your jealous tendencies.