The definition of jealousy is, “feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.” We describe jealousy in a relationship as the way a partner may feel towards certain situations. An example is a woman who is getting phone calls from a male co-worker. Her boyfriend may express discontent with the relationship between his girlfriend and the co-worker. However, what is the boyfriend “jealous” about? Does he envy the other man in some manner or is there something deeper that is taking place and making it uncomfortable when his girlfriend engages in friendships with others. I believe the factors are situational dependent, but it is likely that the boyfriend doesn’t like her engaging in this type of friendship because of his own insecurities.
Now, whatever those insecurities may be of the jealous party, it is important that they are able to appropriately express their feelings to their partner. If a woman is “jealous” of her man talking to another girl at the bar, there are many ways to respond. Here are some that I believe work better. It is likely that these situations solely occur when others are present thus sparking the reaction in the first place.
1. Wait until after the party. If you are at an event together and something is bothering you about the actions of your partner that are stirring up jealousy, then try to wait until you are alone together to discuss it. Waiting until you are cooled down is a good idea anyways. Talk about like this; “Hey sweetie, I saw you talking to that other guy and it made me feel sort of bad. I was wondering if you could explain to me who he is, and if we could find a good way to interact with others at events that makes us both comfortable?” Making a statement that is non-confrontational and non-judgemental will be important. Express only how it made you feel without blaming the other person’s actions. (It is completely appropriate to ask for explanations on who certain people are that you haven’t met yet. Someone willing to answer those questions or disclose information freely has nothing to hide.)
2. Develop a system. Pre-discuss situations or things that may lead to either of you being uncomfortable and have a plan. Maybe you are at a public place and your partner steps away and you get approached. Since, you pre-discussed it, the response that you both decided on may be pointing your partner out to the other party and saying, “Oh, my boyfriend is right over there.” Trying to go into a situation blind always leads to confusion. It is good to know where each partner stands on issues that can bring up jealousy. This way you can both act according to the plan.
Insecurities aside, I have been with people who have purposely tried to provoke jealousy in me by flirting in front of me. It is important that you recognize when someone is trying to make you feel jealous or insecure, and that you give them only one thing: A “don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Ah, screw it, let it knock you down!” Communication is key to overcoming insecurities, and all of us have them at one point or another. A great partner will understand what makes you uncomfortable and do everything in their power to limit your distress, not to create it. Also, it is equally important that if your partner has not given you a direct reason to not trust them, that you work on or evaluate why you have insecurities in certain areas of your life. The likelihood is that they existed long before this partner. It is not fair or good for a relationship to let something like jealousy creep in all the time.
The Cynical Therapist came to be when two therapists became friends. SoulMates or Kindered Spirit Animals… Call us what you will…. We are two bad*** chics Licensed to teach you how to grow into your full potential and add some humor along the way.
Laurie Wilson and Elle Anzalone are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Huntington Beach, CA.