How to deal with jealousy: taming the green-eyed monster
It’s the scourge of any romantic relationship, whether casual or serious. You see her chatting with someone, or you hear him gush about an ex and despite your best intentions, jealousy rears its ugly head. Or the shoe is on the other foot and your partner’s the one who’s seeing even the most innocent of interactions through green-colored glasses. Left unchecked, it can ruin even a healthy relationship, which is why it’s important to learn how to deal with jealousy.
What causes jealousy?
Before we talk about how to overcome jealousy, it’s helpful to understand some of the reasons for it. Some of the major causes of jealousy include:
- Low self-esteem: If you suffer from low self-esteem, it’s easy to see other people in a negative light, especially if they remind you of things you don’t like about yourself.
- Unrealistic expectations: You shouldn’t expect to spend all your time with your partner or to be everything to each other – not only is that unrealistic, it’s not healthy or sustainable to give no space in the relationship.
- Projection: Sometimes, when your own feelings or behavior aren’t as impeccable as you’d like them to be (say, the new intern at work is gorgeous, or you’ve been looking up your ex on social media), it’s easier to lash out at your significant other than deal with your own failings.
How to deal with jealousy in a relationship
Now that we’ve looked at the causes, it’s time to talk about how to deal with jealousy. We’ll look at two different circumstances: how to handle jealousy when you’re the one feeling it and how to deal with a jealous partner.
How to deal with your own feelings of jealousy
Left unchecked, jealous feelings can make a healthy relationship toxic. Which is why it’s important to recognize and handle your own jealousy. Here are a few tips for doing so:
- Assess where the feeling is coming from: Is it actually something your partner is doing, or is something going on in your own life (job stress, lingering mistrust from a previous relationship, an unhealthy family dynamic) that is triggering your jealousy?
- Communicate: Have an open and honest chat about your feelings when your emotions aren’t running high, and make sure you both are on the same page regarding your expectations for the relationship and what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
- Use the rubber band technique: If you’re still dealing with jealous feelings, try this bit of conditioning: wear a rubber band around your wrist, and each time you have a jealous thought, snap it hard. This will get your brain to attach a negative connotation to grudge thoughts and reduce their frequency.
How to deal with jealous feelings from a partner
Sometimes, your partner is the one who’s green with envy. This can lead to major relationship problems, so here are some tips for how to deal with jealousy from a partner:
- Don’t get defensive: No matter how tempting it is, don’t snap back when your partner starts tossing out accusations. That’ll just make things worse. Instead, take a deep breath and step back, and don’t let your partner goad you into a fight.
- Talk it over with them: Sometimes, miscommunication is what’s really behind a jealous tirade. Make sure you and your partner have talked things through so there’s no confusion regarding your relationship.
- Make them feel special: Jealousy can come from feeling neglected or taken for granted. A good way of countering it is to make sure your partner knows how much you appreciate and care for them.
How to deal with jealousy in the long term
It’s human nature to feel envy sometimes. That said, it’s important to develop healthy ways of coping with these feelings so we don’t hurt the people we love, even unintentionally. Some tips:
- A small amount of jealousy is a normal, natural thing even in the healthiest of relationships. It’s important to acknowledge this so that you can deal with it in an appropriate way.
- Communication is important for how to deal with jealousy in the long term. When you and your partner are in the habit of being open and honest with each other, it’s very hard for jealousy to take root and fester.
- Often, jealousy is only the symptom of an underlying problem. Consider talking it over with friends, writing in a journal, or even seeking professional help to understand and solve any deeper issues – you will be happier and healthier for it and so will your relationship.
- Other times jealousy is an indicator of low self-esteem. Make sure to invest time and effort in self-care – when you are confident of yourself and your relationship, it’s much harder for jealous thoughts to take hold.
- Finally, take a cue from a certain Disney princess and let it go. Life’s too short, and your relationship too precious, to spend it being eaten up by jealousy.
Deal with jealousy and watch your relationship grow stronger
Jealousy, like many things, is more fun to read about than experience. Which is why it’s really important to be able to identify the causes and understand how to overcome jealousy, for the future of the relationship as well as your own personal health and happiness. With the tips in this article, you’ll be well on your way to making sure your relationship is devoid of any monsters, at least green-eyed ones.