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Green-Eyed Monster: Navigating Jealousy in Relationships

Jealousy in relationships can be a major issue if not handled correctly. Luckily, there are many different things you can do to overcome it.

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Jealousy is considered the resentment of someone else for their achievements or their possessions. It could also mean being extremely protective over things that you consider your own. The type of jealousy you feel usually changes as you get older. For example, many children feel jealous of siblings, classmates, or friends while adults tend to feel jealous regarding romantic partners and coworkers. Regardless of how old you are, this feeling is important to control. After all, it can lead to behavior that makes other people not want to interact with you. Let’s explore jealousy in relationships and learn how to manage it.

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Understanding Jealousy in Relationships

Anyone who has ever had a jealous partner, friend, or family member will tell you that unhealthy jealousy can destroy relationships. While jealousy can be destructive in a relationship, it isn’t always necessarily a bad thing—if it’s kept in check. It’s a very natural, complex emotion. And virtually everyone goes through it at some point in their life. The key is being able to control it. 

Jealousy comes in all shapes and sizes. Many people think of it simply as a person being unhappy when their romantic partner sees other people. Others think of it as a friend or family member feeling unhappy that someone has something they don’t have. However, it can come in many different forms, and you may not even realize what you’re feeling is, in fact, jealousy.

How to Take Control of Jealousy

Overcoming jealousy can be tough, but it’s possible using a few tips and tricks. Below, you’ll find our game plan for overcoming jealousy so that it doesn’t take control of you or your relationship. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to go into this keeping in mind that jealousy is a normal human emotion. Being jealous doesn’t make you a bad person, and not being jealous doesn’t make someone a good person. Like with any emotion, keep jealousy in check so that it doesn’t have negative consequences later on.

Understand why you feel the way you do.

If you’re feeling upset about someone else’s behavior, the first thing you need to do is think about why you feel the way you do. This is the time to dissect your own feelings piece by piece to find out what is causing them. After you find the root causes and underlying issues of your jealous feelings, you take action on them. 

For example, if you’re upset about your significant other having lunch with a coworker, you should first figure out where your anger is actually directed toward. Are you angry at the coworker, your partner, or yourself? Having professional and even friendly relationships with coworkers is perfectly normal. Is there a reason why you’re upset about it? Do you feel like your partner is being unfaithful or that his or her coworker is going to make a move?

If you start breaking down your feelings, you’re likely to realize you actually have a problem with yourself. Maybe you feel like you should be smarter, prettier, or funnier and that if you were, your partner wouldn’t stray. Rather than beating yourself up over it (or anyone else), try to use these instances as learning experiences. That way, you can handle them better in the future. 

But don’t look at jealousy as always being bad. While it’s generally not a pleasant emotion to have, it’s often considered a defensive behavior we develop to help protect ourselves. It is also a good tool to use to get to know yourself a little better. Rather than being embarrassed or angry at yourself for being jealous, dig deeper into yourself to figure out what could be triggering this defensive behavior. You may be surprised at what you find!

Identify your insecurities.

Some of the things causing you to feel jealous may be insecurities you don’t even know you have! Be real with yourself as you try to figure out what you may be feeling insecure about. If you’re feeling jealous in a romantic relationship, is it because of something you are unhappy with yourself about? 

Introspection can help you gain an understanding as to why you’re upset. While it isn’t easy to simply get over things you’re insecure about, it’s important to be able to accept them. One good way to do this is by focusing on your own self-care. Engage in activities like keeping a journal, speaking with a therapist, or even meditating. These forms of self-care help you clear your mind and focus on the bigger picture. 

Know what you bring to the table.

If you feel self-conscious in a relationship, it’s easy to begin feeling jealous of someone else. This is likely not because of anything they have done but is more related to how you feel about yourself. If you think this is the case, you need to sit back and think about what you bring to the relationship.

This is particularly true when it comes to romantic relationships. You may feel a sense of jealousy when you know your significant other is interacting with someone else. However, rather than letting this drive a wedge between you, stop to think about why they are interacting. Do they work or study together? Were they friends before you met? If so, why did your partner choose to share their life with you rather than this other person? Instead of getting angry or jealous about this person’s involvement in your partner’s life, try to accept them as part of the person you fell for in the first place.

Your self-confidence plays a major role in the value you think you add to a relationship. If you’re struggling to figure out why someone wants to spend time with you, work on how you view yourself. Working on changing the things you don’t like about yourself and accepting the things you can’t change are the first steps in developing a happier, healthier version of yourself.

Talk to a trusted friend.

If you’re still struggling with your emotions even after you’ve spent time trying to understand what the root cause of your jealousy is, it may be a good idea to talk to a trusted friend. They can help you decide whether or not your feelings are warranted and whether there’s any action you should take. It’s a good idea to talk to someone who is slightly removed from the situation. They will offer you an unbiased opinion rather than simply telling you what you want to hear.

For instance, if you’re worried about your boyfriend texting another man or woman, you may not necessarily want to speak to your best friend, who already has some negative feelings about them. However, on the other hand, if this person has cheated on you before, it’s probably better to speak to someone you’re close with. They’ll already be familiar with your history together.

Make sure to ask this friend how they cope with jealousy in a healthy way. Their advice may help you figure out a new way to overcome or control this emotion so that it doesn’t negatively impact your relationship. It can also be very helpful to see how they handle themselves in certain situations. Are they self-aware? Do they have a strong sense of self-confidence? If so, they can serve as a role model when you work on these particular aspects of yourself.

Be open with one another.

Secrecy is one of the biggest killers in any relationship. But it’s especially deadly when it comes to romantic jealousy. Being open with one another can help keep jealousy at bay. This doesn’t mean you can demand your partner to tell you where they are and what they’re doing all the time. But it does mean you should tell the other person when and why certain things make you feel jealous. They may have no idea their behavior is hurting you. Letting your partner know the impact they’re having allows them to fix the issues before they snowball into bigger problems.

Also, you may be expecting your significant other to be open to hearing about the situation from your point of view. Make sure you’re also willing to hear their side of it. Openness has to go both ways if it’s going to achieve its full benefits. Therefore, it’s very important for the other person to feel the same level of respect and tolerance coming from you that you expect from them.

Don’t jump to conclusions.

If someone in the past has cheated on you, you may be quick to assume it’s happening again. But take a step back, and try to distance yourself from your past experiences. Look at everything with clear eyes. Don’t jump to conclusions and automatically believe there’s a reason to be jealous simply because there was one in the past. You may also want to think about why there’s a lack of trust in your current relationship. Are you letting past relationships influence the present too strongly?

We know this is easier said than done, especially when you’ve been hurt before. However, jumping to conclusions can bring a premature end to an otherwise healthy relationship. So keep a level head as much as you can. Deep breaths go a long way!

Learn coping mechanisms.

If you’re a jealous person who frequently experiences it in your daily life, you must find a way to deal with this emotion. There are plenty of coping mechanisms you can adopt. Keep trying methods until you find the one that helps you deal with jealousy in a healthy way. Try positive affirmations, deep breathing exercises, trust-building exercises, and grounding exercises. When you make good progress, try exposure therapies—purposefully expose yourself to situations that would normally make you feel jealous.

Although they may seem simple, these coping mechanisms can help mitigate a bad situation and allow you to manage your emotions. Practice doing them every day so that you feel comfortable deploying them when you need to.

Focus on building your self-esteem.

If low self-esteem is making you feel jealous, don’t despair. This is actually good news since now you can focus your energy on this area. Repeating positive affirmations can help, but we’ve found that one of the best ways to build your self-esteem is to work for it! This means learning something new, doing something that scares you, or setting goals you want to achieve.

Developing new skills is an excellent way to build your self-confidence and get over your insecurities. Try to do something you never believed you would be capable of. If you’re scared to swim, take swimming lessons. If you love to dance or sing but are scared to do it in front of other people, take classes! Learn a new language. Sign up for a gym membership, and use it. As you prove yourself in these ways, you’ll come to recognize and embrace your value.

Take a break from social media.

It seems that everywhere you look, people are posting photos of how great their lives are, how pretty they are, etc. This can have a very negative impact on not only the people who view their content but also on the person posting. Social media has proven to help people stay connected while simultaneously making others feel even more disconnected from the world. If you tend to start developing feelings of jealousy while or immediately after looking at social media, this could be a good reason to take a break from it. Take the opportunity to enjoy a rejuvenating mental health break! You’ll get the time you need to reassess your own jealousy and what is causing it. 

Learn how to trust again.

If you’re constantly harboring feelings of jealousy based on past experiences, you must learn how to trust other people again. The first step in doing this is to weed anyone out of your life that is perpetuating these feelings of distrust. These could be new relationships or old ones. The important thing is that you get anyone out of your life who is hurting you. 

Once you’ve weeded out the bad apples, it’s time to focus on the people who add value to your life. Focus on how they make you feel. Do they always have your back? Are they there for you when you need them? Look closely at the people closest to you and the things they do to prove how trustworthy they are. Focusing on the good people in your life makes it easy to trust other people—and yourself—again. 

Set relationship boundaries.

For centuries, we’ve been told that some of the most important things in life are our relationships with friends, partners, and family members. Although this is undoubtedly true, it’s crucial to put yourself first in relationships. This means setting relationship boundaries with the people whom you are closest with, especially romantic partners. 

There’s an old saying: “Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me.” If someone has hurt you in the past, relationship boundaries can help you protect yourself. When these walls are up, you should be less likely to experience the same level of jealousy since you know you are at least partially protected from being hurt again. 

Don’t worry about it.

If you’re jealous about the relationship your significant other has with someone else, try to remember that you can’t control that person’s actions or emotions. The only thing you can control is yourself. So why worry about what someone else is doing? Why are you wasting your time on someone you don’t trust or you’re scared is going to hurt you?

Instead, focus on your own mental health and well-being. Use your energy to focus on the things that make you happy, and create a self-image you love. One of the best parts of simply not worrying about what other people are doing is that it puts the power completely back in your hands. You are the one that decides how you will react to things. By not letting jealous behavior get the better of you, you come out as a stronger person in the end.

Know when to walk away.

Jealousy not only has a negative impact on the person you’re in a relationship with, but it can also be detrimental to yourself. If you keep feeling twinges of jealousy that are hurting your emotional wellness and you haven’t found a way to cope with them, you may just need to walk away from the relationship you’re in.

These uncontrollable feelings of jealousy may be your body’s way of protecting you. In this case, you need to trust your gut instinct. There may be valid reasons you’re having jealous feelings and trust issues even with someone you’re in a valued relationship with. It might be difficult at the time, but in the end, it will give you the space to move on to relationships that are healthier for you. It also allows the other person to open their time and their mind to someone else.

If you’re experiencing any form of mental or physical domestic violence, please get help as soon as possible. 

A Last Bit of Relationship Advice

Everyone will experience jealousy or be on the receiving end of jealous behavior of some kind in their lives. But as you can see, there are many different ways to deal with the green-eyed monster in a healthy way. Don’t beat yourself up when jealousy strikes. Instead, show yourself compassion by acknowledging the emotion, and seek to understand its roots. You may need to have honest conversations with your partner about their behavior. If you try to overcome jealousy to no avail, it may be time to leave the relationship.

If you would like to get more advice on developing and maintaining healthy relationships, make sure to head over to the Adventures From Scratch Connect blog. Here, you can read dozens of articles on everything from after-school activities for kids to romance in the digital age.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for overcoming jealousy?

One of the best things you can do to overcome jealousy is to think about why you’re jealous. Spend quality time with your boo, and figure out what the underlying issues are.

Is jealousy always a bad thing?

Jealousy can teach you a lot about yourself as long as you can overcome it. Use it as a learning tool rather than a negative emotion. You’re feeling a certain way for a reason.

How can you learn from jealousy?

When you’re feeling jealous, it’s often due to your own insecurities or past trauma. Be honest with yourself, and try not to act on negative feelings. Instead, spend more quality time together.

Why do people feel jealous?

People often feel jealous when they think they aren’t good enough. These insecurities can have an impact on how well they can overcome jealousy. Try to confront your feelings.

What is jealousy?

Jealousy means showing resentment toward someone else or their achievements or being fiercely protective of your possessions. Combat jealousy by being open in your relationship and with yourself.

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