Jealousy: how to overcome it so that it doesn’t overcome you
Category: Better Relationships | Author: Elly Prior | Co-author: Kryza Sito | First published: 12-11-2014 | Modified: 30-11-2017
Feeling jealous all the time? At some point, even if you’re one of the most secure people on the planet and you’re completely comfortable with who you are, you may have been plagued by feelings of insecurity, anxiety, worry, anger or fear about losing a person that you love. It happens to the best of us and it happens for a variety of reasons.
Although these feelings may come sometimes, they can be shaken off with some genuine love and kind words from the person who's important to you. Or even simply spending quality time with that person could just do the trick.
But when these negative emotions are heightened to irrational levels and hang around longer than you'd like them to, you might be suffering from a case of jealousy.
I so know that it’s not easy to be in this position. Sometimes the feelings of hurt and humiliation associated with jealousy can be totally crippling. At times, these feelings can spring from imagined threats that seem to be alarmingly real. But it’s also very possible that right now you’re trying to deal with negative feelings because someone misused your trust before.
The green-eyed monster
So what is jealousy?
I'll tell you and then I'll break it down into bite-sized pieces.
Jealousy is basically what you feel when you think that you’re on the verge of losing something or someone precious to you, usually (but not necessarily always) because of the presence of someone else.
Jealousy can manifest itself in several forms and can be present in all kinds of relationships. But let’s just say that you're reading this and you're in a romantic relationship. What other things might be making you feel this way?
Ban that green-eyed monster!
I feel jealous because...
There are many reasons why you might be feeling jealous, and here are just a few examples to help you get started with identifying your own particular situation:
9 Potential reasons for your jealousy
- Your partner is spending more time with other people (especially difficult if time together is your primary love language);
- Your partner gives other people (workmates, friends, people of the opposite sex, kids) more attention during a social gathering and you feel shortchanged;
- You notice some changes in the way your partner treats you – they appear to have become aloof or distant;
- Someone is showing interest - romantic or not - in your partner;
- Your partner starts interacting with other people who appear to be more ‘stimulating’ (intellectually, physically or romantically) to him/her and you feel like you're out of the loop;
- You think that your partner is starting to develop an unhealthy and seemingly romantic interest in another person;
- You fear that you will lose your partner to someone else;
- You think that you're not good enough and that someone might be better suited to your partner; or,
- You may be reliving moments wherein you were once lied to, or cheated on, by your current partner or a partner from a previous relationship. It may have happened recently or a long time ago, but you still find it difficult to move on.
Those are just some of the reasons why we experience these feelings, but you can probably identify other reasons for jealousy too.
The tell-tale signs of jealousy
Jealousy can sometimes lead you to experience very intense emotions – and sometimes you might find yourself being unable to control some of your reactions to these emotions. (Just in case you would rather find a solution immediately, watch this Three-Step-Plan to Overcome Jealousy video.)
Here are some of the signs that you may be jealous...
14 Signs that you're suffering from jealousy
- You suddenly feel intense emotions of anger towards your partner and fear that he or she may leave you, or you may feel hurt
- You know that you have a loving partner but for some reason you can’t shake off the feeling that he/she might be cheating on you
- You have the compulsion to check messages on your partner’s phone, email or social media account, or listen in to bits of conversations just to be sure that your partner isn’t fooling around
- You begin to feel suspicious about his/her whereabouts and who he/she is spending time with
- You doubt your partner or think that he/she may be lying
- You feel the unreasonable need to cross-examine your partner
- You overanalyse what your partner says or does and inject your own interpretations about situations
- You dislike it when your partner spends time away from you
- You start feeling as if you're not good enough or you feel helpless about the situation
- You feel threatened by the other person who has entered the picture (probably in terms of physical appearance, education, work status, accomplishments and so on)
- You feel the need to defend yourself or prove your worth
- You alienate your spouse/partner with hurtful words and baseless accusations
- You might even resort to physical violence
- You experience frustration that you feel this way because the emotions are getting out of hand
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
Sometimes, when you’re in the midst of your emotions, it may seem as if there’s no end to the torment you’re going through. When your partner starts to become defensive or express that he/she is tired of your emotional tirade, the feelings might even get more intense.
But take heart, it really doesn’t have to be that way. You can gradually overcome these feelings. And I promise you, you’ll be able to see beyond the difficulty of what you’re going through now.
Getting to the root of jealousy
Jealousy is a heart issue and it can also spring from not knowing how valuable you are. The way you see yourself can either paint or taint how you view your relationships.
Therefore, ask yourself:
What is my worth as a person?
Usually, low self-esteem and dysfunctional/abusive relationships are linked. Take a moment to think about your previous relationships. If you’re suffering from low self-esteem, it’s very likely that you’ve had similar problems in your relationships before. There might be recurring patterns of jealousy or maybe even cheating. What are the common qualities of your previous partners?
It's not enough to know what you’re worth and how you’ve navigated relationships in the past. It’s also very important to know exactly what you’re dealing with at any given moment.
How to deal with your own feelings of jealousy
When your emotions are at their peak...
... remove yourself from the situation and take some time out to jot down the answers to these questions:
- What is 'making' me jealous?
- Is it a real threat or is it something that I merely fear?
- How is this affecting me, my partner and my relationship?
- What can I do to be better?
How to overcome jealousy
Know that you really can get better! I can so imagine how overwhelmed you might feel, perhaps even as if you have two different personalities at times!
Here are my top tips to overcome those feelings of envy, jealousy, resentment and spite...
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
Sometimes, when you’re in the midst of your emotions (and there are physical manifestations of what you feel), it may seem as if there’s no end to the torment you’re going through. When your partner starts to become defensive or express that he/she is tired of your emotional tirade, the feelings might even get more intense. (Just in case... you may also need to read my page on how to survive infidelity)
But take heart, it really doesn’t have to be that way. You can gradually overcome these feelings and I promise you, you’ll be able to see beyond the difficulty of what you’re going through now.
You cannot change another person, but you can change how you respond to someone or a situation - however tough that may be.
When dealing with others outside your relationship
Set realistic boundaries when dealing with potential ‘romantic’ interests. Maybe at some point in everyone’s relationship a real threat comes along. Before that happens - or even if it's already happened - it might be good to discuss things that you’re not okay with when it comes to dealing with other people.
For example, you may say: “I won’t feel comfortable if I see you spending time after work with someone from the office who I know could possibly be interested in you.”
Or it could be as simple as: “I think I’d like you to avoid any form of physical contact whatsoever with someone other than me, if that’s all right with you.”
5 Ways to give your partner more freedom without increasing your own feelings of jealousy
- Communicate your feelings to your partner. It’s good to begin with statements explaining how you feel and not just launching into a detailed explanation of what your partner's doing that’s making you feel bad. He/she might merely perceive it as an attack on their character if you only say what you think they’re doing wrong. Part of the joy of being partners is being able to learn how to negotiate speed bumps like this. Do it well and do it lovingly.
- Communicate positively. That means you choose consciously to affirm when it’s easier to tear down; to speak gently when it’s easier to scream; and to speak kindly when it’s easier to just get mad. Your partner will be more responsive to you and willing to discuss the issue at hand if you don’t allow your emotions to get in the way. If there are real reasons for you to be jealous, then you can set ground rules about being honest and upfront before you start talking about the issue.
- Affirm each other as partners. You and your partner can revisit the reasons why you fell in love with each other. Sometimes, because of the passage of time and subsequent familiarity, you can forget why you love a person in the first place.
- Give your partner a freedom radius. This means you give them time to reconnect with himself/herself and with other people without having to fear that you’ll be bothered or upset if he or she doesn’t give you a call to update you. Give each other allowances for growth and individual enjoyment. Your partner will like the feeling of being trusted and will probably be more open towards you as a result.
- Find ways to reconnect as a couple - after and even during the emotional struggle. Revive old traditions. Be intentional in doing things for your partner. Be sweet (if not sweeter!) Go on exciting and new adventures together.
6 Ways to help you feel better about yourself
- Affirm yourself. You are a person of value and you have an identity that is separate from your partner. Know your worth.
- Catch yourself when you notice recurring patterns of negative self-talk and negative thoughts, decide immediately to change your mode. Exercise, eat healthily, get a massage or write in your journal. Do something that will take your mind off those thoughts – particularly if you’re already talked about your concerns. Don’t drive your car in reverse – it will only take you backwards!
- Reconnect with other people. Your life didn’t stop when you had a romantic relationship. You can visit your grandparents or your parents. You can also spend time catching up with friends you haven’t seen for a long time.
- Do something meaningful. Visit the elderly in your community. Volunteer for a soup kitchen. Visit those who are in prison. Allow yourself to have wings and to do other things.
- Talk to a therapist if you feel that things are really not working out well for you. You can connect to an online, professional therapist at any time via my site.
- Know when it's time to to let go if you think that the relationship is beyond repair and you've already done everything from your end to make things work. Relationships should free you to be who you were meant to be, and not to constrain you from reaching your destiny. Jealousy may be a warning sign that things are headed somewhere else in a relationship – especially if the cause of jealousy is unfounded.
You can only fulfil your potential and make a difference in this world, if you're happy with yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin. Therefore, make happiness happen. :-)
If you really think that your relationship is already beyond repair and you've already done everything from your end to make things work, it may be time to let go.
Relationships should free you to be who you were meant to be, and not to constrain you from reaching your destiny. Jealousy may be a warning sign that things are headed somewhere else in a relationship – especially if the cause of jealousy is unfounded.
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