Jealousy is one of the things that can cause major rifts in a relationship. I call it the Relationship Killer.
Are you the one in the relationship that tends to get jealous? Is your partner jealous of you? Do you both display jealousy at different points in your relationship? Would you like to understand it better and know what to do?
First things first: You need to understand the causes of jealousy:
1. You're feeling insecure, whether you realize it or not.
The first cause of jealousy is a basic insecurity, which manifests as conscious or subconscious.
When it’s conscious, you are aware of feeling “not good enough.” You don’t think you deserve your partner or a happy relationship. When it’s subconscious, you don’t entertain thoughts of being not good enough but you have subconscious CDs playing in your head about how you don’t deserve happiness.
Whenever your relationship starts to feel better than you think it should, you start engaging in self-sabotage, an expression of jealousy. You are just waiting for your partner to find someone better and leave you.
Because you are ever vigilant watching for the least sign of straying, you can drive yourself and your loved one crazy with your suspicions and accusations.
You are so sure he is going to cheat on you so you keep a very close watch on every move he makes. You accuse him of things you can’t possibly know are true. You violate his privacy at every turn — checking his cell phone, reading his email, following him around town, etc.
What can you do? STOP! Make a decision to trust your partner.
Trust is a behavior; it’s something you do. Develop an internal dialogue you start to run whenever you are feeling jealous. Tell yourself you deserve happiness. You deserve a wonderful relationship. Your spouse or partner loves you. Out of all the people in the world, he chose you! Keep telling yourself these things until you believe them.
2. Your past is coming back to haunt you.
Sometimes jealousy stems from past experiences: someone from a past relationship cheated on you or maybe you watched someone you care for go through this ordeal with his partner. Maybe even your partner cheated on you during an earlier part of your relationship.
You are afraid to let your guard down because you don’t ever want to go through that horrible pain again.
What can you do? If the past experience involved someone other than your current partner, remind yourself she hasn’t done anything wrong.
Emphasize that you could drive her away with your jealousy and create the very experience your fear. Remember you lived through the last experience and so you know how to do that if you must do it again.
If the person who cheated is your spouse or current partner, remind yourself that you decided or committed to forgive your partner. Anyone can make a mistake once and you have decided to give her another chance. When you make that commitment, you must stop trying to punish her for her past indiscretions and trust her.
3. You think you "own" your partner.
Another form of jealousy comes from believing your partner belongs to you. When you have this mindset, there is no room for him to even speak to another woman. If he even glances another woman’s way, you are all over him, ostensibly keeping him in line.
The problem with this is that jealousy is never attractive. Whenever you accuse people of things they are not doing, you increase the chances they will do it just to spite you. After all, you're punishing them as if they are guilty so why not do the crime?
If this is you, remember you do not own anyone. Your partner has free will and will be with you as long as he wants to and will leave you when he chooses. You can’t control him into living a life he doesn’t want to live.
What can you do? Remind yourself he will be more likely to stay connected to you if you are nice to him.
4. You refuse to believe that things, even feelings, change.
Another root cause of jealousy is the belief that feelings should never change. You fell in love with your partner or spouse. You were compatible; you shared things; you may have had children together.
Even though all that is true, sometimes things change. People can grow apart. You can meet someone who knocks you off your feet. I’m not arguing this situation's morality; I’m simply saying it can happen.
When you consistently believe that things should never change, particularly your feelings for each other, when they do change, jealousy ensues.
What can you do? If this happens in your relationship, try really attaching yourself to Dr. Seuss’ quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”
Know that what you shared with your spouse or partner was very real and special for the time you shared it. When things change, accept the change gracefully. Jealousy will not help the situation.
Even if you can guilt him into staying with you, do you really want him to stay out of guilt and obligation rather than choice?
Jealousy is usually unwarranted. Let’s stop the suspicions and accusations. And even if there were a past incident that leads you to jealousy now, know you will never repair your relationship unless and until you are ready to truly forgive.