Are you in a relationship in which your partner is jealous? Are you the jealous one? How do you know if what you are experiencing is normal or unhealthy? Jealousy is a normal, unpleasant emotion that everyone has experienced to one degree or another. When is it within the normal range and when is it over the top?
First of all, jealousy is a universal feeling. Whenever you fear losing something you consider valuable, jealousy is one of the emotions you experience. As a child, you may have felt it when you saw a sibling getting more attention from your parent than you were. In school, you may have had a friend who always made better grades or had more friends. Again, feeling jealous would be a normal reaction to these situations.
In your relationship with your partner, you may feel jealous when he talks with another woman. You may even confront his behavior, fearing that his attention toward that woman puts your relationship at risk. Again, your feelings of jealousy are normal. So when does it cross the line?
Feelings are just that: feelings. They are neither good nor bad. They just are. What complicates feelings is what we do with them, starting with our thoughts. If, for example, you feel jealous when your partner talks to another woman and you think, “Why is he talking to her? Does he think she’s prettier than me? Is he going to cheat on me with her?” your thoughts may lead you down a slippery slope if you let them.
Now you may confront him in an attempt to control his behavior so you can feel safe from losing him. Your response may be to say to him, “I don’t like you talking to other women. I don’t want you to look at other women. You are disrespecting me and I will not stand for it.” You may even add a threat of, “If you keep talking to other women I will leave you.”
These behaviors often get you the exact opposite of what you are looking for, which is more security. You want to insure that your relationship is safe from the threat of loss. Instead, your partner may feel threatened by your jealous behavior and want to move away from you. The feelings of closeness you tried to create are destroyed by your jealous behavior.
If this is what happens to you, here are a few reality-check questions to help you get some perspective before you drive a wedge between you and your partner:
- Do you have any reason to distrust your partner?
- Has he been unfaithful?
- When he talks to women is he flirting or simply talking to them?
- Is your jealous behavior based on a previous experience not related to you and your partner?
- Are you willing to express your fear of loss with your partner instead of making demands that he change his behavior?
You can change your jealous behavior and reconnect with your partner if you are willing. These behaviors can destroy your relationships and if you have a pattern of doing this, it is time for you to do something new. Relationship coaching can help.