After several first dates that didn’t work out, you find someone who meets all your criteria for a keeper. You start seeing each other a few times a week, visits become sleepovers, and eventually you decide to be mutually exclusive with one another. Suddenly, jealousy starts to show its ugly head and you have to figure out how to deal with jealousy in your relationship.
Strange things happen when a relationship gets labelled. When two people are “officially” dating, things that wouldn’t have mattered before are suddenly suspicious, like Facebook pokes, text messages, or a night out with the boys that runs a few hours late.
Like anything, it takes practice to become good at relationships. Society doesn’t acknowledge dating as a skillset, as something that can be improved on with practice, but that’s exactly what it is. One of the more important skills you need to learn in order to have successful relationships is the ability to recognize and deal with jealousy in a healthy way.
Humans have been around for quite a while now, at least long enough for evolution to weed out ineffective and unnecessary emotions. Jealousy definitely serves a purpose, but it might not seem that way if you’re one of many people who suffer from abnormal levels of jealous behaviour.
Before you label yourself as one of these people, be honest with yourself about whether you truly have jealousy overload or if your partner is just a shady character.
The first step to dealing with jealousy is figuring out if it’s justified.
Obviously, we’re predisposed to believing the way we feel is justified, so one of the first steps is developing a bit of self-awareness.
Try to step outside of your own perspective by asking some basic questions – if you were doing what your partner is doing, would you expect them to be jealous? If an impartial observer could somehow see what was happening in your relationship, would they think you’re acting inappropriately? In past relationships, has your gut feeling turned out to be right, or have you alienated partners with your behaviour?
If your partner is clearing browser history, leaving the room when his or her cell rings, getting angry quickly when you glance at a text in progress, and staying out regularly drinking, your jealousy is likely to be justified.
At the other end of the spectrum, if your partner is going out with their friends and you feel the need to check up on them, or if you find yourself trying to creep text messages without cause, your jealousy is probably unwarranted. It’s tough to come up with black and white definitions, so trust your gut and be honest with yourself.
Give each other a reasonable amount of space, and communicate the way you feel.
Women aren’t going to stick around long if you go out every weekend and get hammered with your buddies, and the same is true of guys who stop everything and want to hang out 24/7 as soon as a girl expresses interest. There has to be a healthy balance of independent activities and time spent together, and it can be frustrating in the beginning when both of you are trying to find out what works.
If you’re the jealous one, it’s time to step back and take a look at yourself. Confident, secure people have a lot going for them, they have a solid sense of who they are, and they understand that there’s nothing wrong with two people having independent interests while in a relationship. Lots of women have male friends, and vice versa, which is fine – as long as both of you agree on boundaries.
It’s normal to feel a bit jealous, but being aware of it and understanding that acting jealous won’t help is a big part of keeping jealousy under control. Usually we lash out in jealous rage to ensure our partner’s commitment, but ironically this sort of behaviour is likely to alienate others. If your partner is loyal, you’re taking away the incentive for them to keep being loyal – if they get punished either way, then why not indulge?
If your partner isn’t loyal, lashing out will likely cause a defensive reaction. The way out for them here is to make you doubt yourself and cause such a high level of guilt that you back down and second guess your gut instinct. Either way, jealous outbursts don’t help.
Decide if you want to stick it out or cut your losses.
If your partner makes a fuss every time you want to hang out with your friends, have a sincere talk with them instead of getting angry about it. Jealousy is an indicator of insecurity, so let them know they have nothing to worry about.
Explain that your friends are an important part of your life and if they want to date you they have to be cool with your pals. Sometimes a talk and some reassurance will help the situation, other times you have to be patient as you build trust over time.
Whether or not you’d like to devote this time is up to you. If he or she doesn’t come around, it’s likely a sign of more serious issues – it would be a good idea to suggest counselling. Keep in mind that even if they agree to get professional help, it doesn’t guarantee a remedy for relationship jealousy, so tread carefully.
Do you have a story or experience with jealousy in your relationship, or are you struggling with relationship jealousy right now? Leave a comment below!