Intimate Relationships and Jealousy

Whether you’re the incredibly confident sort, or if you are someone whose self-image could do with a boost, the chances are you’ll still encounter jealousy in a relationship. In the same way that experiencing feelings of jealousy isn’t much fun, being on the receiving end of them can be seriously unpleasant, and can become suffocating. All couples encounter relationship jealousy from time to time, but only those who handle it maturely can weather the storm.

Jealousy as an emotion and its origins

Jealousy is a feeling that all of us experiences at one time or another. It is natural too - for example, If you perceive a threat to your relationship, jealousy is an emotion that can arise as a protective response.

While jealousy often arises as a desire to maintain the current status quo of a relationship, it can quickly become unhealthy. If you’re able to discuss concerns with your partner and assuage them together, your bond will grow stronger as a result. But, relationship counsellors say that the following actions are signs you’re not managing your emotions in a healthy manner:

  • You start snooping through your partner’s phone and online accounts without their permission.
  • You demand that your partner account for their whereabouts frequently.
  • You persistently feel as though your partner doesn’t love you or feel attracted to you.
  • You begin insulting your partner or you accuse them of lying.
  • Whether you’re the jealous type or not, it’s useful to acknowledge that this emotion stems from feelings of vulnerability. Being able to discuss those vulnerabilities with the person you love can really help, and can even save your relationship.

    How to approach jealousy in a relationship

    If you’re experiencing feelings of jealousy, you may want to question why this is. Has your partner given you grounds to believe that they’re dishonest? Or has someone hurt you in the past? In many cases, negative emotions arise when you’re feeling underconfident or overwhelmed. If you suspect what the contributing cause is, discuss it with your significant other.

    When experiencing jealous feelings try to monitor your thought processes. Ask yourself whether what you’re thinking about has a firm basis in reality. Or if you have any evidence for it. For example, if your partner is late home from work and your mind jumps to an affair, ask yourself if there’s any real evidence? You could also introduce a more reasonable explanation, such as traffic making them late. If you have no reason to believe otherwise, the benefit of the doubt is a healthy option.

    If one of your partner’s behaviours does give you grounds to feel anxious, explain that to them. Avoid being accusatory and using sweepingly general statements such as “You always...” or “You should never...” Instead, state what you feel and give them a chance to discuss it.

    On the other hand, if you’re the partner who is regularly accused of making the other person jealous, ask yourself if you contribute to these feelings. For example, are you flirty with that person at the office? If so, don’t excuse it as harmless fun. Question whether you’d behave that way in front of your partner, or if you'd want them to do the same in front of you, and use your answer as a barometer for whether you’re being appropriate.

    Jealousy in an intimate relationship is always a tricky subject to tackle. But, with clear communication and a mature approach, it can become a hurdle you overcome together.