7 Strategies on Dealing with Jealousy in Intimate Relationships

02/24/2017 05:11 pm ET
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If you are in a relationship, it is natural to feel a little jealous at times, especially if you have very strong feelings for your partner. Occasional jealousy is okay and may even add a little excitement and zest to the relationship. But what to do when this jealousy becomes more frequent and intense and even overwhelming?

Why Do People Get Jealous?

The common evolutionary explanation for jealousy is that men fear sexual infidelity as they want to be absolutely certain that their offspring is actually theirs. Women, are more concerned with emotional infidelity, because they are concerned with their children's survival and want to make sure that their partner supports their children, provide and protect them.

Today more than ever before, people are afraid of being rejected, not accepted, not being loved and worry about losing people they care for. These feelings of loss are natural. Yet, again, when thought and feelings of jealousy are extreme, they stem partially as a result of insecurities. When fear lessens, so does jealousy. If you experience jealousy very frequently, here are some strategies that will help you out:

1. Don't Act On Your Feelings

It is hard not to act the way you are feeling. The feeling of jealousy or any other feelings is not the problem, the real trouble starts when you start acting on that jealousy and let it consume you. You can feel the feeling, but do not have to act on it. Remember that your better half is a human being that is actively interacting with the world around him/her. That world contains people of gender that they sexually prefer but that does not mean that they will cheat on you with them. There is a reason why they are in an intimate relationship with you. If they wanted to date other people, they would have done so. So, the next time you feel jealous, accept the feelings, yet change the way you think about the situation and be reasonable and wise.

2. Calm Down and Stay Vulnerable

To love is to be vulnerable. George R.R. Martin said it best “The more people you love, the weaker you are.” What you need to do is to open your heart to your partner, trust whatever comes and keep calm. Yes, it is not easy, but you need to be willing to accept what is beyond your control and trust yourself to deal with the unknown. Remember, you are in the relationship, because you decide to love. It is a choice you make to love your partner and at the same time accept the risks without any qualms or jealousy.

3. Express Your Jealousy in A Soft Way

If you feel that your partner is doing something that is making you jealous, you can express how you feel and talk to them in a mature way. You can also communicate it with humor, diplomacy or directly as long as it is respectful. If you are humorous, you can joke about how insanely jealous you are when your partner pays attention to someone else. Laugh with them as you say this, because it will take the pressure off the topic and will get the message across. When you are diplomatic, you can let them know that you love them a lot and know that they will never cheat on you. And if you are direct, just tell them that you trust them, yet cannot control your feelings and want them to consider how you feel.

4. Appreciate Yourself

One of the main reasons why people get jealous is that they have low self-esteem and insecurity issues. They tend to think that they are not good enough, their partner will realize this, and will leave them for someone else. You need to know that there is a reason why your partner liked you in the first place and got together with you. If you need some reaffirmation or appreciation, don't hesitate to ask for that too (within reason of-course). The next time you feel jealous, remember that your partner is with you because they want to be with you because of your positive qualities.

5. Heal Your Wounds

People tend to act jealous because of previous relationships too. You might have been hurt before and they might have cheated on you. You have to move beyond your past and realize that you are out of that relationship and in a new one. The person that you are with is not your ex-partner. Understanding the roots, triggers and reasons for your jealousy is an important part of personal growth and maintaining a healthy relationship. Whenever you start feeling jealous, make a conscious effort to heal your old wounds, be more resilient so that your past does not affect your present and future.

6. Trust Your Partner

You must trust your partner, because you have no other option if you want to have a happy and successful relationship. No one can control your partner and you have to let jealousy go. Having some control is not a bad thing, yet trying to control somebody for things over which you have no control, is problematic. Act in a loving manner in spite of feelings of jealousy you experience.

7. Trust Yourself

The best thing that you can do is trust yourself. Trust yourself that you can love deeply and without any regrets. Trust yourself that your love will act like the anchor that will prevent your relationship from floating away. This is not easy, but ultimately when you trust yourself, you trust whatever comes. You feel confidence that you will be able to manage even the most difficult situation, including a breakup or rejection.

In conclusion, jealousy may be destructive and serves as a poison in intimate relationships. If you follow the above suggestions and strategies when feeling jealous, you will be in a better position to build your relationship and deepen the trust.

  • Moshe Ratson (MBA, MS MFT, LMFT) is a Licensed Couples/Marriage Family Therapist and Executive Coach based in New York City.
  • Check Moshe’s Ratson blog on his website
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