Jealousy is often associated with love and to some extent a feeling of ownership towards one another and fear of losing your partner’s affection. To protect our relationships from the threat of others, we often behave in ways not always socially accepted and throw tantrums, make scandals or start big fights in public just to name a few examples. Although to some extent this may be flattering to your partner and be considered as an act of love, too much jealousy will end up ruining your relationship.
But do all couples go through a stage of jealousy? Not all. Some people may feel extremely confident in their partners and never even place it in their minds to be possible for them to be looking at someone else. In other relationships, only one member of the couple feels jealousy, in others both of them may feel jealousy to some degree and extent. All of the above situations may be considered normal.
When Does Jealousy Become PathOlogical?
It may start as a normal feeling of jealousy but as it increases the feelings of insecurity, of not being loved enough and wanting more and more out of your partner: time, devotion, exclusivity… And still feeling suspicious and acting-out on those suspicions such as keeping track of their movements, their cell-phones and email accounts, just to name a few examples.
When jealousy becomes pathological, it may become increasingly more and more difficult to convince your partner that there’s no reason to feel this way and you may end up trapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy where everything you do and say is proof you’re hiding something, or having an affair or planning on leaving your partner. Ultimately that will be the case, because although we all feel flattered with some degree of jealousy, too much will end up feeling more like a prison and not a real relationship where partners respect each other.
How To Deal With Jealousy?
- Accept what’s normal and set boundaries on what it’s not. Some expression of jealousy is normal and needs to be addressed as normal. And in other cases, it may be socially unacceptable or personally unacceptable to you. These issues need to be discussed with your partner and boundaries need to be set.
- Try to assure your partner of your love. In order to reassure your partner that he/she still has your love, it may be important for you to show them what that means: spending more time with them, going out, sending gifts, expressing your love verbally.
- Help your partner learn how to manage their jealousy. An open dialogue is a key success in any relationship. Expressing your feelings towards jealousy, your expectations in a stable relationship and your degree of comfort with jealousy is important. Take time to listen to your partner and understand the reasons behind their insecurity.
When Jealousy Reaches Extremes
In these cases, it may be important to see a therapist to help you and your partner work on your differences and help build up a trusting relationship.
By the Couples Clinic
DeFrank-Lynch, B. (1985). Thérapie Familiale structurale : manuel des principes et des éléments de base. Paris : ESF.
Ruge, K.C., & Lenson, B. (2003). The Othello Response. Dealing with Jealousy, Suspicion and Rage in Your Relationship. New York: Da Capo Press.