You might feel it when that hot stud across the room at the gym gives your lover "the look-over." You might experience it if your ex-boyfriends ever cheated on you and then you project it onto your current man. Or you might experience it if you have an "open relationship" and you know your partner is out "tricking." Whatever its form, jealousy can take on many different faces and it can kill your relationship if it's not managed appropriately. If you're the one who's afflicted with jealousy, it can torment and consume you, zapping you of all security and contentment. If you're the partner of a jealous lover, your frustration at having to "walk on eggshells" and constantly reassure your guy of your commitment to him can be maddening.
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Jealousy is not bad in and of itself. It is a feeling and all our feelings are ok; it's what we do with them that can mean the difference between relationship calm and relationship storm. Jealousy can actually benefit your partnership in its mildest form. But if it is a recurrent, pervasive theme that seems to dominate the climate of your relationship, it can sabotage your future together and lead to a lot of hurt and grief. This article will address some of the dynamics involved in jealousy and offer some tips for you and your partner in overcoming and defeating it.
JEALOUSY & ITS CAUSES
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Jealousy can be defined as a feeling that arises from a perceived threat to your relationship. It almost always involves fear--fear of loss of abandonment or losing your partner, fear of being replaced with someone else, fear of not being important enough anymore and being excluded, etc. This significantly impacts one's self-esteem and leads to insecurity and using self-defeating behaviors to ward off these painful feelings and gain a sense of control (although it never really accomplishes that and creates vicious cycles of the same dysfunctional behavior over and over again). Self-defeating behaviors might include spying on your partner, excessive clinginess toward him, constant questioning of his whereabouts and activities, among others.
What are the causes of jealousy? There are "inner" and "outer" causes. Inner causes might include low self-esteem and confidence (believing one is unattractive or unworthy of being in a healthy relationship), a past history of experiences that created distrust, and beliefs that one will be single forever if he loses his partner. External causes might include how one's partner acts (expressing interest or flirting with someone else) or the actual involvement of a third person in the relationship. "Factors that seem to affect the susceptibility to jealousy include the length and stability of the relationship, maturity, dependence, and level of self-esteem of the individuals, their expectations for emotional gratification, and the perceived availability of alternatives to the primary relationship (Neidig & Friedman, 1984).