A modicum of jealousy in a relationship is often seen as a natural display of pride and desire for our significant other. In fact, I would say that many people welcome an occasional bout of jealousy in that it reaffirms both passion and commitment.
The question then, is when does jealousy begin to present a serious problem both to the afflicted party and subsequently the relationship itself? Below you find a small checklist with some of the more damaging aspects that jealousy can throw-up. If you find that most of these describe your internal feelings well, then this article will be of service to you.
- You become overly possessive and controlling.
- Your jealousy makes you insecure and anxious on a constant basis.
- Your partner complains.
- Your concern leaves you feeling drained and lethargic in the long-term.
- Your jealousy has impacted your intra-personal relations with others.
An Objective Look At Jealousy
Understanding jealousy at a deeper level can help us throw a lasso around it. There are two ways you could define jealousy both physically and chemically. The first is that it is triggered by a primordial innate fear or a childhood trauma. The second, that it is the psychological symptom of the much larger issue of low self-esteem and worth.In this article I will be focusing mainly on the second, due to the fact that there is little a psychological layman can do with a wall of text to address the former.
Jealousy is counterproductive. If you acknowledge you fear of losing what you have, you must also acknowledge that your jealousy is — ironically — what threatens it. Due to the fact that you are reading this article, it seems fair to assume that you are already conscious of this problem. So what does that leave us with? Taking forceful and practical steps towards curbing it’s ability to threaten our emotional stability.
Making It Manageable
There are various techniques that we can use to dull the knife’s edge. Some of them are cerebral, others manifestly practical.
Work on your self-esteem: A healthy, confident approach to life is a proven way to assuage fears of all types. Easier said then done — I know! Growing your self-esteem warrants a full article, I have discussed it at length elsewhere on this site, you can find an example of some practical ways to approach the subject here (the context is wildly different, but I feel the points made remain consistent).
Fake it till you make it: Accept that you cannot simply will your way out of certain behaviors (due to the fact that we’re dealing with chemical and not only psychological responses). This works both ways however, the body does not always differentiate between real and fake. By smiling, or by curbing an impulse jealous reaction (externally, not internally), you are forming a new chemical routine. Do it enough, and it will become real.
Stay busy: Finding new hobbies, friends and activities greatly reduces the importance and dependence on the relationship, reminding you subconsciously and consciously that should you ultimately lose what you have, you will be able to go on. This may seem redundant and obvious, but when action accompanies reason be prepared for a real revelation serenaded by a fanfare of fireworks.
Stop comparing: While it is inescapable to size up others, comparing yourself negatively or favorably erects an unfalsifiable illusion. Simply put, you cannot read minds, nor can you control thoughts, opinions and judgement. The only thing you can do is make the most of what you have — the rest is secondary (and due to the fact that you are reading this, you are being pro-active and honest).
Live in the present: The main force behind jealousy either resides in the past, or is fueled by the future. By becoming present in the “now”you are greatly diminishing its potency.
Facing Our Fears
How do you get over jealousy in a relationship? Ultimately you can learn to simply deal with it, I feel that my suggestions above and a sprinkling of creativity really can make it manageable. However, shedding this fear entirely requires accepting it fully.
Fortunately or unfortunately for us (it depends on how much time has passed) this usually happens to us anyway. Sooner or later we lose that which we fear losing the most. How we react to this can change our lives completely. The brutality of the five stages of grief, ending with acceptance, are a lesson that slowly chisel away our fear of abandonment.
In the mean time, try to simulate your fear, even if it is painful just to caress the thought. By making a habit of simulating such a scenario, what you are really doing is coaxing the ego (our brain’s tribunal) into modifying its dependency and allowing for a breakup scenario to be palatable. In essence, the more you simulate, the less severe the thought will become!