Jealousy is an important topic to cover when it comes to relationships. In this article, we’ll cover several questions relating to it:
Can jealousy be healthy?
How to deal with your own jealousy?
How to deal with your partner’s jealousy?
Only if you’ve mastered everything jealousy-related will you be able to have a happy, healthy relationship, so let’s get started!
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Jealousy: What’s the Difference?
To answer that very first question - yes, jealousy can be healthy! But to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy jealousy, we need to know what causes jealousy in the first place.
Jealousy occurs when we perceive another person as a threat to our relationship. Whether they’re your boyfriend’s oldest friend or just some random girl commenting on his Instagram posts, the result is the same. And it is how we decide to process that information that determines whether our jealousy will be healthy or unhealthy.
Let’s start with what most of us are familiar with. We feel unhealthy jealousy when our reaction to that threat is - “He’s definitely going to fall in love with this B, and our relationship will definitely end. What a pair of bastards they are!” Led by these catastrophic thoughts, we start interpreting every little thing as the proof to our theory. Is he smiling at his phone? He’s chatting with her. Is he late to meet you? He got carried away - with her!
And while there really is a thing called emotional affair, by jumping to conclusions too quickly, we’re essentially dooming our relationship. When we start from a place of irrational thoughts, we end up with anxiety, anger, and a whole bunch of other unhealthy emotions that don’t allow us to talk it out. More often than not, we either act passive-aggressive or, well, aggressive-aggressive, and there’s no solving this (or any other!) issue that way.
So What About Healthy Jealousy?
In healthy jealousy, the threat is the same, but our way of thinking about it isn’t. Instead of jumping to catastrophic conclusions and hating them both, we can think about it more rationally. “I really wish he didn’t get messages from her, but now that he is, I want to talk it out and see what’s really going on.” It’s as simple as that, but getting to that place where you’re confident enough to be thinking rationally can be a real challenge. I used to be obsessed with every ping my boyfriend got and every girl he added on social media before understanding that talking it through and setting some ground rules is the best way to approach it. More often than not, you’ll understand that the main issue is you two having different implicit ideas about what a certain thing means (more about that here). And while you may believe that every message means they’re interested in another person, they may simply be doing it out of thinking it's rude not to respond to someone!
How to Deal With Your Own Jealousy
Now that we got that covered, the solution becomes pretty clear. You work hard on changing your beliefs (it can get challenging and you may want to give counseling a chance), and once you’re coming from a place of sadness and worry rather than anger and anxiety, you approach them in an assertive manner. You let them know how you feel when they behave a certain way, and you present your solution to them. For example:
I feel anxious and angry when you add girls you don’t know on your social media. I feel like you’re checking them out as potential girlfriends right in front of my eyes, and it makes me feel really bad. I wish you didn’t do that while you’re in a relationship with me, regardless of how innocent that might seem in your head.
Now, you may feel during this process like you’re begging them to be faithful, and it’s important to tell yourself that’s not what’s happening! It’s just that with modern technology and what not, the lines can get pretty blurred when it comes to what’s okay in a relationship and what’s not, which is why setting some ground rules is crucial.
How to Deal With Your Partner’s Jealousy
Again, now that we understand where unhealthy jealousy comes from, you try to get your partner to feel healthy jealousy instead. Let them know you love them and you aren’t seeing the situation the same way they are, but you do want to understand how they see it so you can talk about it. Ask them what they fear and what makes them so anxious/angry and set some ground rules together.
However, if your partner keeps getting verbally or even physically aggressive out of jealousy and they refuse to talk about it in a rational manner, ordering you instead to stop this or do that, you may want to think about getting out of that relationship. Feeling unhealthy jealousy is okay and we’ve all been there, but refusing to listen to the other person and give them a voice is no way to solve an issue.
And there you have it - Jealousy 101! If you liked reading this article, read another one, leave a like, or share it on social media!