Truth # 1: It’s going to happen
People get jealous all the time, both inside and outside of a romantic relationship. Think about these examples:
- Have you ever been hanging out with two other friends, and over time you notice that one person gets jealous if the other two are hanging out more, or have inside jokes they’re not a part of?
- Have you ever witnessed a sibling being jealous because a parent treats another sibling better?
- Have you worked at a place where someone gets promoted and jealousy ensues throughout the office?
Jealousy and envy is everywhere; it’s an unfortunate fact of life.
There is an important distinction I feel I should make here in the context of a relationship. “Jealousy” doesn’t solely mean that you think your partner wants to cheat on you. It can come in many different forms.
Perhaps your partner is emotionally supporting someone else in a way that feels violating. Maybe they’re joking around with someone in a way that they do with you, and this creates some unease (after all, it’s YOUR thing! Not theirs!) While it might not be sexual, it can still feel invasive if your partner is somewhat “flirting” (flirting can be both sexual and non-sexual) with someone, however innocent it may be.
Or, perhaps you’re stressed and anxious about something ENTIRELY separate. But in a specific instance, your angst has decided to manifest itself in the form of becoming jealous over a seemingly innocuous situation. Maybe your partner is genuinely just talking to someone, but the mindset you’re in decides to distort it into something else.
Lie #1 : It means you’re insecure and have no self-confidence
Okay, I should qualify this as a half lie. Sometimes, your own insecurities absolutely distort your view. Sometimes, you feel threatened by someone else because you feel that they have qualities that perhaps you lack (this is almost NEVER true!) Sometimes, you ARE projecting insecurities from a past relationship onto a current relationship.
However, I think this is a really unfair and even dangerous blanket statement, as if jealousy always equals insecurity. When we hear this, we think our feelings mean we’re weak. We think we should be stronger. We think, “I shouldn’t be jealous right now because I am a STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN/MAN.” So, we ignore the feeling, thinking that it will go away. We think that our self-confidence will steam roll right over any feelings we’re having. This. Doesn’t. Work.
Jealousy is a natural, human feeling. Like I said earlier, jealousy happens in all types of relationships, not just romantic ones. If you feel jealous, it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It doesn’t mean you’re flawed.
Unwanted feelings come up for us all the time. (Remember how I said we’re humans?) We’re all animals. We’re going to feel instinctual feelings rooted in a lot of years of trying to survive. However, the beautiful thing about being human and not a panda, for instance, is we can choose what to do with these feelings. We are evolved AF and have brains with superpowers.
The important thing is what you do with the jealousy. Do you let it build? Do you give it power? Do you try to understand it, and see if it can be changed or removed?
So what can we do if we feel jealous? Here’s an idea:
Truth #2: You should talk to each other about it
I know this sounds like the LAST thing you want to do, but if you feel safe talking to your partner about things, then you really should.
Before you do, though:
First, take some time to sort through what you’re feeling. What are some instances that have triggered your jealousy? Do you think you genuinely have to worry about your partner cheating, or is it something different? Don’t feel the need to act. Don’t feel the need to get angry. Sometimes, the feeling is fleeting and goes away, and you move on with your day. But, if it keeps coming back, or the same problem (or person) keeps creating these feelings for you, it might be time to bring it up.
Telling your partner what you’re feeling is important for two reasons:
- It gives them the chance to explain. Don’t forget, we have a very skewed lens from time to time, especially when we’re emotional. Give your partner the space to explain. OR, maybe they’ll immediately agree that they crossed a line, apologize, and make some changes according to your feedback.
- Sometimes, after you (calmly) say how you’re feeling out loud, you realize that it’s silly, not true, or rooted in something entirely different that has nothing to do with jealousy or your partner crossing a line. An added bonus? Saying something out loud takes the power away from it.
Talking to your partner about how you’re feeling doesnt need to be a screaming match, and try not to be too accusatory (unless you found something that incriminates them, in which case, GON’ head hunny). Calmly explain to them how you’ve been feeling. Let them know where you’re at. (Remember: we’ve already thought through our feelings, weighed whether they’re valid/important, etc. at this point!)
You’ve heard a billion times by now that communication is the most important aspect of a relationship. Moments of jealousy should be no different. Don’t deny your feelings beause you feel like you “shouldn’t” be having them. Not only does this not work, you also miss a vital opportunity for growth for between you and your partner.