Being jealous in a relationship is so too common — and sometimes it’s completely natural. But jealousy can gain momentum and quickly get out of hand. So where do you draw the line between what’s normal jealousy and what’s a bigger issue?
Lindsey Chrisler, a love and dating coach based in New York City, tells Bustle that when jealousy gets unmanageable, that’s when it’s an issue. “You can’t sleep, you can’t work, you can’t function in your life,” she says. It’s a horrible feeling and— even when you know it’s not rational— it can feel impossible to snap yourself out of. And, as Chrisler says, being jealous can really mess with you. It affects your mental state, your health, and your relationship.
It’s difficult to tackle, but the most important thing is to separate jealousy that’s there for good reason and jealousy that it isn’t based in reality. They’re both difficult — and many of us have experienced jealousy even when we know there’s no good reason. But they’re very different things. If you think that your partner may genuinely be cheating or giving you reason to be jealous, then it’s time to talk to them about it. But if it’s the kind of jealousy that you can’t control and just keeps happening, well, then it’s a little trickier. This is what experts suggest if you can’t stop being jealous.
1. Do Some Soul Searching First
If you just can’t stop being jealous, it’s important to do some soul searching. “Some partners are extremely jealous because of an insecurity developed within,” author and relationship expert Alexis Nicole White tells Bustle. “Perhaps they have been cheated on, or they have spent a lot of time with an individual that makes them develop a general mistrust or distrust of others.” If you have a murky relationship history that’s OK, but you can’t take it out on your current partner.
It’s important to look beyond just your own relationships, too. “Some partners may be jealous because of what they viewed in their family of origin — the family that they grew up in,” Texas-based psychotherapist Richard E. Toney tells Bustle. “Or some partners may be jealous for issues related to emotional attachment.”
2. Learn How To Funnel It
If you think the jealousy may be based more internally, then it’s important to think about how to tackle it yourself, which may mean taking a step back from your relationship and regaining some independence. “The sign which could reveal extreme jealousy is emotional dependency,” Salama Marine, psychologist and online dating expert for dating website EliteSingles, tells Bustle.
If you find yourself having a bout of jealousy and seeing green, you may need some short-term solutions. Because it can be a very visceral experience, you need to distract your body. “Jealousy is a sensation and a really uncomfortable experience in your body,” Chrisler says. “Going for a run, going to dance class, or doing something else with your body will change that sensation and help you pop out of the jealousy and get you back to your normal state.”
3. Talk To Your Partner
Even if you know the jealousy is irrational but you feel like you can’t get rid of it, it’s important to talk to your partner. It may be that there’s something in your relationship — something you need them to give to you — that’s missing.
“Jealousy isn’t necessarily bad, rather it signals to you that your emotional needs or feelings may be unmet,” Samantha Burns, couples counselor and dating coach at Love Successfully, tells Bustle. “Whether you’re seeking security and validation from your partner, or wanting to know that you are a top priority, it’s important to determine what the underlying reason is for your jealousy. Before you let the green eyed monster completely take over, ask yourself what you can sort through and emotionally manage on your own, then once you’re clear on your needs, communicate with your partner directly.”
If you admit that it’s something you’re struggling with and that you need to check them in more regularly or be more open certain things then, as long as what you’re asking is within reason, they should be able to give you that. “In a healthy relationship, your partner shouldn’t fire back with insults or make you feel… jealous or insecure.” Burns says. “Rather, [they] should listen, try to understand, and validate or reassure you.”
If your partner is giving you reason to feel jealous or acting shady, that’s one thing, but sometimes jealousy is just a projection of our own issues. If you have jealousy that you just can’t shake, try looking at where that might come from and how you can deal with it.
Originally posted on Bustle