How to deal with jealousy in romantic relationships
Feeling jealous in your relationship and want to learn how to deal with it in a healthy way? You’ve come to the right place.
Jealousy is a normal human emotion. It’s something many of us experience on a relatively regular basis, including in our relationships.
Most of us want to be good partners. But even in the best relationships, it’s natural for jealousy to sometimes seep in—especially if we’ve had bad past experiences where people have broken our trust.
While it’s okay to feel jealous, it’s important to recognise when your jealousy becomes harmful—especially if it results in controlling behaviours towards your partner or partners. If left unchecked, jealousy can be incredibly harmful, and could spell disaster for your relationship.
But thankfully, there are ways you can cope, and learn to better deal with your jealousy.
What is jealousy, and how can it impact relationships?
Jealousy is a complex emotion. It can happen when someone perceives a threat—real or imagined—to their relationship, and lead to feelings like rage, fear, embarrassment, insecurity, hostility, resentment and bitterness.
Jealousy in romantic relationships may often manifest when your partner or partners might be seeing, hanging out with, or talking to someone of the gender or genders they’re attracted to. It is okay to have these feelings: it’s understandable when you care a lot for someone and are afraid of losing them. But what’s not okay is using those feelings to justify bad and controlling behaviour—like constantly checking their phone, telling your partner who they can and can’t hang out with or talk to, and policing their whereabouts and activities.
If your partner has a history of lying or cheating, and is hanging out with or talking to a person where issues have occurred in the past, that’s completely different, and you have every right to set boundaries that can help re-build your trust. But even if your partner hasn’t done anything wrong, these feelings can still arise.
Trust is a complicated thing, and even if our current partners haven’t broken our trust, it’s likely that someone else has. But it’s not the responsibility of our new partners to take on our burdens of the past. It’s our job to work through these emotions, so that we can move on and heal, without the green-eyed monster on our shoulder.
How can you work through jealousy in romantic relationships?
Recognising you have an issue is the first step to working through your jealousy. And it can be a really hard step, because taking an honest look at our emotions and behaviours can be really confronting—so good job on getting to this point.
The most important thing to remember when you’re working through jealousy in romantic relationships is that emotions are normal, especially if you’ve been triggered by your past experiences. But now is the time to really examine your jealousy, including where it stems from, and when it arises.
Ask yourself: is my jealousy stronger when I have low self-esteem and don’t feel good about myself? Is my jealousy stronger when I’m alone and feeling sad and insecure? Is it stronger when I’ve had a bad day, or experienced any kind of rejection during the day—including at work or in other relationships?
Maybe your jealousy isn’t about your partner: maybe it’s about you. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s an important thing to recognise and work through.
They key is connection and trust with your partner, and trust with yourself. If you find feelings of jealousy arising, why not try telling your partner something like: “I’m not telling you this to make you feel bad, and I’m not seeking constant reassurance. I’m telling you this because it’s something that’s affecting me and I want to work through it.”
Deconstructing jealousy so you can have better relationships
It might feel scary to admit you’re jealous. And it might feel utterly terrifying to think about telling your partner how you feel. You might be afraid they won’t understand, or that they’ll get mad. Maybe you’re worried that telling the truth might even lead to the relationship breaking down: but if it’s a good relationship, the truth can be so healing, and can set you both on a path to recovery.
To work through your feelings of jealousy, you have to be upfront with your partner, and communicate how you’re feeling—because they can’t support you if they don’t know what’s going on. But while having a partner’s support can be incredibly beneficial, they can’t fix this problem: only you can.
Our partners can tell us they love us. They can do certain behaviours that might make us more comfortable and ease our jealousy, but they’re only short-term fixes that don’t actually address the issue. And it’s not our partner’s responsibility to be our everything and fix everything—and it can get exhausting for them too.
We don’t want to empower or maintain the jealousy. Like working through any feeling or issue, it can be a journey—but it’s one that starts with faith and trust, communicating with your partner, and holding space for our feelings. We disempower jealousy by talking about it.
Remember: you are not your emotions. You are not your jealousy. And only you can set yourself free.
We need to question the jealousy—and externalise it as a separate thing. Your jealousy is not who you are. Pull yourself out of it, and disempower the feeling.
Because jealousy feels terrible. And while it may keep rearing its ugly head, it’s important to keep working through it, and recognise that if something triggers you and causes you to feel jealous, maybe it’s because “my feelings are skewed” rather than “my partner has done something bad to make me feel like this”.
And you don’t have to work through it alone. You can talk to your partner, friends, join online support groups, or even see a counsellor. Narrative therapy, which is something Unveiled Stories uses in counselling and coaching sessions, can be incredibly useful in battling jealousy, because it reminds us of our stories of strength. And it reminds us that we deserve better than these feelings.
Written by Zoe Simmons. Zoe is an award-winning disabled journalist, copywriter and speaker with a passion for making a difference through words. You can find out more about her website, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter for more.
Need help working through your jealousy in romantic relationships, or have other relationship troubles? I’m Nicole Hind, owner of Unveiled Stories, and I’m a counsellor-turned-online relationship, personal and business coach who helps people all across Australia, New Zealand, the USA and many other countries globally. Here’s where you can find out more about online relationship coaching.
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Main image from Vecteezy.com Second image by lambhappiness from Pixabay