It can often be difficult to determine whether or not the jealousy you feel in your relationship is caused by the relationship itself, a previous relationship or just those deep-rooted insecurities that you have held for so long. Sometimes, jealousy can actually take you by surprise. It could be that you have never felt jealous in a relationship before when suddenly your partner’s very attractive ex comes back on the scene. The problem is, jealousy is a rather unattractive quality and it can be extremely harmful within a relationship, often leading to resentment, so if you have a touch of that green-eyed monster then you need to find a way to overcome it.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to open the lines of communication with your partner. You need to let him/her know how you feel so that they have the opportunity to reassure you. Sometimes it can be difficult to think about approaching the subject because to say it out loud almost trivialises the feelings you have been experiencing, but you really should try. However, if talking is not really a strong point in your relationship, perhaps you have to try and look inward to deal with your issue.
Don’t let insecurity ruin your relationship.
Much of our problems with jealousy spring from the boundaries of what we deem to be acceptable behaviours. For example, some couples do not have a problem with their respective partners harmlessly flirting with someone else while for others that is an absolute deal breaker. If your partner has crossed one of your boundaries in terms of their behaviour with the opposite sex then it can cause all sorts of irrational feelings to emerge.
The first step in this situation is to consider whether or not you are exaggerating the problem or indeed whether there actually is a problem. You need to take a step back and look at the facts. Has your partner actually given you cause for concern? Is there actually a fundamental reason why you feel that you cannot trust your loved one? It is that age old question of whether or not you are letting your imagination run wild. Are you party to the behaviour that your partner is indulging in – be that a friendship with a female colleague, meeting up with an ex or flirting with someone in a bar? If you know about it and they are not trying to hide anything then the chances are that there is nothing to hide.
Obviously if there is a history of your partner cheating on you or other partners cheating on you then you may feel that you are programmed to doubt your relationship and you may therefore be looking for reasons to be suspicious. However, it is always worth thinking about the other possible explanations for behaviours before jumping to the wrong conclusion.
Sometimes it is enough to recognise that you are feeling jealous for no reason and then you can use that recognition to change your own habits, but perhaps you need to change even more than that. Everybody has boundaries and problems generally arise if you feel your partner has overstepped your personal boundaries even though he/she may not be aware of it. Be aware that just because, for example, you have always felt that it is wrong for someone in a relationship to flirt with someone else that doesn’t mean that this rule has to be set in stone. Think about it - flirting that does not go any further is merely harmless fun, and it is also perfectly natural. Just because you are in a relationship it does not mean that you stop finding other people attractive and we would all be lying if we said we did not still want to be attractive to others even though we are attached.
Jealousy can be an ugly thing.
If you are making some concessions perhaps your partner will be able to as well. Sit them down and explain that you know you sometimes feel jealous and that you are trying to do something about it. However, if there are particular things that drive you mad like when he invites his female best friend over while you are having a cosy night in then you have to tell him because he cannot modify his behaviour if he does not know that it is making you feel this way.
Of course, if jealousy has been a long standing problem in every relationship you have had or you feel it spilling out into other areas of your life then you might wish to seek some counselling to help you to deal with your emotions. There is nothing to be afraid of and plenty to gain from this. You will feel stronger and better able to understand why you feel the way you do. You will also learn coping mechanisms to support you when the jealousy takes over.
The other issue is if you are on the receiving end of your partner’s jealousy and you know that you are doing nothing wrong. You can try to talk to them about it and you can certainly try to modify your behaviour but there is definitely no need to change your life altogether as this is when jealousy can become control, which is very destructive for all involved. Couples need to find a way to work through this issue together.
But what if you can’t? You know we all need to accept that sometimes a relationship just cannot be saved. If jealousy has taken over and become the main focus of your relationship and no amount of talking or changing boundaries or modifying behaviours helps then perhaps you need to accept that this is not a positive relationship. This is a decision which only you or your partner can make.