10 Ways To Deal With Jealousy When You're In A Relationship

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10 Ways To Deal With Jealousy When Your Partner Makes You Crazy
Self

Darwin believed it was our body's attempt to ward off competition for mates and protect our offspring. Psychologists often describe it as a close cousin to madness.

Whatever its origins, romantic jealousy is often has no basis in reality and makes us feel like we've totally lost it. It's not fun. But it is a good thing that we're capable of higher reasoning!

Here's how to deal with jealousy and put our thinking brains to use to get that beast inside of you under control.

RELATED: What Is Jealousy? How Identifying The Two Main Triggers Can Actually Help You Feel Safe In Your Relationship

1. Think positive.

You may not be able to control a jealous attack, but you can — with some concentrated effort — redirect the thoughts to a happier place.

Psychologist Ayala Pines, author of Romantic Jealousy, recommends concentrating on recent happy times. For instance, "...some loving thing your partner has done recently or of something wonderful that has happened that made you feel great about yourself."

It's not a permanent fix, but may keep you from dumping your glass of pinot in that other woman's face.

2. Get a second opinion.

Before dissing my partner a jealous-fueled rant, I always call my best friend for a reality check. She does the same.

Recently, her boyfriend took a female friend out to dinner on the friend's birthday, just the two of them on a Friday night! I told her that I didn't think he was interested in the woman, otherwise he wouldn't be so flagrant about taking her out, but that it's normal to feel jealous.

Then, I told her that I was jealous my boyfriend wanted to hang out with his friends two nights in a row. We decided I'd boarded the crazy train and should keep this one to myself.

3. Stop pretending you aren't jealous.

A friend of mine, Denise, was recently convinced her boyfriend and his cute coworker had snuck off to a hotel during their lunch hour. But because she felt unentitled to the way she was feeling ("I knew I was being insane"), she pretended to be okay with their friendship.

For folks with jealous tendencies, stop pretending you're not a jealous person. It ends up just bubbling up and exploding.

A better method for coping is to start asking lots of questions about the situation/person that has triggered your jealousy. What does she look like, is he attracted to her, what do they talk about? In time, you may be able to ask these questions without sounding accusatory. Baby steps.

4. Meet the person you're jealous of.

It's funny how when we imagine our partners running off with someone else, the other person is the most perfect human being in God's creation. These delusions can be remedied through fairly simple means: meet the other person.

A former girlfriend of mine was always talking about her coworker, who shared my name, so I had her ask the coworker out to drinks with us. Boy was I relieved to find see she looked like an ogre.

5. Look for her flaws.

This is not the most enlightened piece of advice, but a great way to tamper a jealousy attack is to silently, privately study the other person until you identify a flaw to latch onto.

"There are a ton of gorgeous people in the world and my boyfriend is good at befriending them," says Kari, 23. "So, to make myself feel better I focus on the less than glowing characteristics of the girl. And before long, I notice she kinda has horse teeth or hear that she has a degree at a community college or something like that."

RELATED: 5 Signs Your Own Jealousy Is Driving Him Away And Destroying Your Relationship

6. Have hobbies of your own.

Until a few years ago, I dumped everything into my relationships. I had few friends or hobbies outside of work and my partner. 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'm 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.

7. Use the "flooding" method.

Therapists use a process called "flooding" to treat jealousy, but 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 — 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 your jealous impulses actually begin to dull and eventually disappear.

8. Develop a plan to handle cheating.

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."

9. Unpack the issues from your childhood.

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." Being aware of childhood issues are the first step towards overcoming jealousy triggers.

10. 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. My girlfriend 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.

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RELATED: Here's How To Stop Being Jealous, Before You Self-Sabotage Your Relationship

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