Low levels of jealousy can actually be positive for your relationship. It can be a signal that something's "off" between the two of you. It can help partners feel cared for and be an indication to not take each other for granted. It can also increase communication, commitment, and sexual intensity. "Jealousy becomes problematic when it is expressed indirectly, is experienced compulsively, becomes irrational, or leads to extreme levels of vigilance and control" (Neidig & Friedman, 1984).
The major consequence is that it also leads to a severe break-down in the level of trust and intimacy between the two men, core ingredients that are necessary for a healthy relationship to last. And the other paradoxical effect of jealousy is that it can create the very outcome that is feared and dreaded the most---the ending of the relationship.
TIPS FOR CONQUERING THE JEALOUSY BEAST
If you are the one suffering from jealousy...
*Acknowledge your jealousy. Avoid minimizing or denying its existence. Recognize that you are not your jealousy--it is a part of you, one aspect of you that you can learn to manage. Admitting its power over you is the first step to conquering it.
*Identify the cause of your jealousy. What feelings are underneath your jealousy? Work on developing more effective ways to cope with these specific emotions.
*Keep a journal and write about your experience of jealousy and what it means to you. Ask yourself such questions as:
·Do I trust my partner and believe what he says?
·Am I projecting my own issues and feelings onto him and blaming him? What is my jealousy really about?
·What hurts? What's missing in my life?
·What are the consequences of my jealousy? What do I get out of it that may be perpetuating it?
·Are my jealous feelings rational or irrational? Are they based more on real threats or insecurities?
*Identify your triggers to jealousy and either avoid them or find ways to confront them head-on in a healthy way.
*Live in the present. Your partner is not your ex-boyfriend. Learn how to control your anger and grieve past losses and hurts.
*Refrain from obsessing and compulsively questioning your partner's behavior. Monitor your own thoughts and always check your motives and feelings against reality.
*Realize that you are responsible for your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You create your own interpretations and perceptions of events and situations. Learn to identify and challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs and develop affirmations or coaching, coping statements to write on index cards for reference to help you through difficult times.
*Practice relaxation techniques to help you cope with your anxiety.
*Make sure to have a life separate from your partner to reduce dependency and bring more fresh air into the relationship. Reach out to your friends, build your support system, and seek out social outlets that inspire a sense of fun and purpose.
*Build your self-esteem by taking safe risks that boost your confidence and allow you to see the strengths you possess.
If you are the partner of a jealous lover...