What role does jealousy play in
relationships? When someone expresses
jealousy in public, it tells me they are deeply insecure. They don’t trust their partner, and they
don’t have high self-esteem. It also
tells me they don’t have an identity for themselves outside of the
David Schnarch, Ph.D., writes in his book
Passionate Marriage, “Jealousy is a form of emotional fusion (for more on
emotional fusion, refer to http://www.romancerecovery.com/blog/finding-your-self-in-relationships/). At its most severe, jealousy illustrates our
intolerance for boundaries and separateness from those we love. Our desire to possess our partner is
inherently frustrated by the immutable fact that we are two fundamentally
Jealousy may look like someone who loves too
much, but it’s really a matter of that person not having a clearly defined
sense of self. Their sense of self is a
reflected one; they derive their self-esteem only by being in relationship with
another person. For example, she is a
mother, lover, daughter, business woman.
But who would she be if all those roles were taken from her? Where is her true self?
If jealousy rears its ugly head in your
relationship, I suggest the following.
Interrupt the thought pattern by asking
yourself, “What’s really going on here?”
Listen to what your inner monologue is saying. Initially, it may be things like, “He’s
always flirting with other women.” But
listen a little longer to hear what you’re saying about yourself. It will invariably be some version of “I’m
not good enough; there’s something wrong with me.”
Is there a real basis for your
jealousy? Has your partner cheated on
you? If yes, and you’re still jealous,
that’s a signal you have unresolved conflict about the cheating. If your partner hasn’t cheated and you’re
still jealous, it’s time to do some soul searching.
Get professional help; hire a coach or
therapist to work through your fears and insecurities. A trained professional will help you find
your sense of self, and thus your equanimity, much faster than you could on
Once your sense of self has been restored,
you should find that the green-eyed monster has disappeared. This is a process, and a long, involved one
at that. But it’s worth the effort to
find your way home to your true self.
Healthy relationships require healthy
boundaries. Healthy boundaries create
reminders that we are unique individuals. As a unique individual, there will always be a
place within you that is your “secret garden”.
And inside that secret garden lie the delights of intimacy and
eroticism. Trust me, it’s worth the effort to cultivate
your secret garden.