Overcoming jealousy in a relationship or a marriage is no piece of cake. Learn how you can better deal with feelings of jealousy in your relationship.
Understanding jealousy in your relationship
Shantanu and Sumita have been married for a year. Both are young, working professionals and are slowly but surely climbing the rungs of their career ladder. They have a group of common friends with whom they hang out frequently. They also spend time with their own group of friends occasionally.
However, Shantanu feels that Sumita is more interested in spending time with her own friends rather than their common friends. Sumita has many friends of the opposite gender and Shantanu is upset about it. He feels that Sumita prefers them to him.
Shantanu begins to snoop around and tries to keep tabs on Sumita. He has downloaded a tracking app on her phone without her knowledge. He is in the process of breaking into her social media accounts to observe her online activity. He keeps calling her and texting her throughout the day. He gets angry if Sumita does not let him know where she is going and who she is meeting.
Sumita finds this behavior disturbing. She has no interest in other men and she wishes that Shantanu would trust her. But Shantanu is not willing to listen to her and wants her to stop seeing her guy friends. Sumita and Shantanu get into huge fights over the issue.
Can this deadlock be resolved?
Just a few days ago, on July 28, The Times of India reported that a jealous young man throttled his wife to death because he suspected her of infidelity. While not everybody may go to such an extreme, jealousy is definitely very bad for a relationship.
When jealousy becomes a type of neurosis, it is called Othello syndrome, morbid jealousy, or delusional jealousy. In this disorder, the sufferer becomes preoccupied with thoughts about their partner’s supposed infidelity without having any evidence. He/she also behaves in a socially unacceptable manner towards their partner.
However, jealousy is also common and normal feeling. We are all assailed by feelings of jealousy in our relationships—romantic or otherwise—but we should be able to overcome them. Allowing jealousy to fester and grow does not do us any good. Jealousy has the capability to kill a relationship that has the potential to bloom and shine.
Jealousy is supposed to have a purpose with respect to evolution. The feeling is a part of our arsenal to ensure that our genes survive when in competition with a rival’s genes.
According to psychologists, jealousy has various manifestations:
- feeling hurt because he/she does not feel valued
- feeling humiliated by the (supposed) betrayal
- feeling angry at the (supposed) transgression
- feeling bitter about the (supposed) unfaithfulness
- feeling overwhelmed at the thought of being abandoned
What should you do if you have a jealous partner?
If you have a partner who feels jealous, do not ignore his/her feelings and get defensive. Instead, think about what is causing the jealousy and where it originates. Was she ignored by her caregivers during childhood and thus has abandonment issues? Does he have low self-esteem? Does she have attachment issues or did she face childhood trauma? Does he have narcissistic tendencies and craves attention all the time? Finding the root of the problem can help you deal with it effectively.
Here are some general tips for you to help your partner deal with the issue:
1. Show support.
Your partner needs to feel that you understand him/her. Give her a chance to get closer to you by focusing on activities or hobbies that you both like. If you both like to dance, you can go to couple dance classes. Or learn to play an instrument together. Or work on a craft project together. Do anything that will bring you together on a regular basis and will make your partner feel safe.
2. Do not distance yourself from your partner.
Out of jealousy, your partner will indulge in annoying behaviours that will drive you crazy. Your natural reaction is to put more distance between yourself and your partner. Don’t do that! It will not solve the problem and may even aggravate it. Instead, what you can do is work on ways to make your partner feel less insecure. Jealousy is born out of a feeling that one is not good enough for one’s partner or that he/she could have done better.
3. Set some rules for acceptable behaviour.
Work with your partner to establish some rules about how he/she will behave with you and around friends and acquaintances. Often, jealous partners behave in a strange way around other people that causes embarrassment to the couple. Jealous partners also try to control their partner’s life and track their movements. You need to make your partner understand that you cannot live in isolation and that he/she needs to learn to trust you.
4. Do not become defensive.
When your partner exhibits jealousy, do not dismiss his/her feelings or get defensive about your own actions. This will only cause your partner more anxiety. What you can do is to speak to him/her right there, address the issue, and ask what you should do so that your partner will feel like he/she can trust you.
Of course, you should not agree to give in to your partner’s irrational demands like cutting ties with friends of the opposite gender or not going to parties. Even if you feel that doing these things will get your partner off your back, you will find resentment towards your controlling partner build up within you over time. Needless to say, this is not good for the relationship.
You may occasionally allow a breach of privacy so that some of your partner’s fears are alleviated. But you should be clear that eventually your partner needs to learn to trust you.
5. Identify red flags early on.
If you have a jealous partner, you should know when he/she appears to have crossed the line. If your partner becomes manipulative and controlling to such an extent that it qualifies as emotional abuse, then you must seek help. Jealous partners also get angry very quickly and are in no condition to make considered decisions.
6. Make your partner more involved in your life.
Often, people who are consistently jealous have been neglected during their childhood. Such people want more emotional closeness. Don’t exacerbate your partner’s abandonment issues by living a separate life. Instead, try to get him/her involved in your life more.
Introduce him/her to your friends and go on outings together. Take him/her along to your Zumba class. Involve him/her in your other activities once in a while. Your partner will develop a sense of security when he/she sees how you go about spending your day.
Do you need help to deal with a jealous partner? You can speak to one of our qualified counsellors anonymously at Askmile.com.