How to Control Jealousy

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control jealousy
Advice about how to manage jealousy, control your possessive tendencies and tame romantic envy.

Get a Life
Until a few years ago, I dumped everything into my relationships. I had few friends or hobbies outside of work and my partner. (Lame, I know) I got jealous constantly because losing my partner was a very real threat to my well-being. Somewhere along the way, I got very busy (potentially self-absorbed) and now I am just as invested in my job, my band, and my friends as I am my relationships. And voila! I'm less prone to jealousy because I'm just as likely to be the one meeting new people and choosing to do things outside of the relationship.

Steal the Secret of Therapists
Therapists use a process called "flooding" to treat jealousy, but—shhhhh—you can do it at home for free. Set aside an hour to think about the thing or person that is triggering your jealousy and avoid thinking about it at any other time. Make sure your cell is off and there are no other interruptions. Using props—mySpace pictures, that email you found—that create your most intense jealous aches, let your mind "flood" with those feelings. Repeat the process for two or three days, and believe it or not your jealous impulses actually begin to dull and eventually disappear.

Develop a Cheating Survival Plan
As the Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards sex scandals demonstrated, we can be pretty hysterical about cheating and often see it as the de-facto end of a relationship. But, most of us will cheat or be cheated on (it's happened to me twice, and I've committed it twice), and it's not a bad idea to discuss if you can get through it ahead of time. Carolyn, 31, says "My boyfriend and I agree that sleeping with one person for the rest of your life is a little unrealistic and unrelated to what it takes to make a relationship work. So, we've talked about what would happen if we slept with someone else once, and now I think we could get past it."??

Unpack Childhood Baggage
Dad was a big flirt? Mom was out of the picture? That may explain why you keep dating people that make you feel insecure, says Pines. "A child who did not feel secure in mother's and father's love, or as a teenager witnessed one of the parents being unfaithful to the other, is likely to grow up with a greater predisposition for jealousy," she said. Being aware of childhood issues are the first step towards overcoming jealousy triggers.

Trust Your Instincts
There are, of course, instances where jealousy is serving its purpose, and telling you that your relationship is in danger. When my ex-girlfriend started bringing this college girl around all the time, I felt very uneasy. My gut told me she was interested in the youngin'. My gf cheated on me with college gal a few weeks later and we did not have a cheating survival plan in effect. Of course, usually there are other things off about the relationship in a situation like this, but you get my point. Don't be afraid to trust yourself.

Follow the steps above and you'll have your jealousy in check in no time! At the very least you'll start to understand that jealousy is manageable; envy and possessiveness do not have to rule your life.

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