jealous
Everyone has jealous feelings at some point, but the key to maintaining a relationship is to not act on those negative emotions. (Illustration by James O’Toole, Grand Valley State University)
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jealous

Don’t give in to the green-eyed monster.

Ah, jealousy … that old buzzkill. Widely hailed as a vitriolic visitor in otherwise healthy relationships, jealousy has a notoriously bad reputation. People who are overprotective of their partners and jealous of anyone who they believe to be a threat to their relationship are branded as toxic and possessive. Similarly, relationships that are fraught with issues pertaining to jealousy are denounced as being devoid of trust and for that reason, doomed to fail.

Yet, even with all of its negative connotations, it can’t be denied that jealousy is something most people have struggled with at some point in their lives, whether it was resigned to one occasion or is a recurring matter.

If you find yourself needing some perspective in regard to those ugly feelings that pop in uninvited, look no further. Here are five tips to curb the green-eyed monster that haunts us all.

1. Acknowledge that it’s normal.

Let’s start off with a reminder that your feelings are completely valid and that, at the end of the day, jealousy’s just another one of them. Don’t beat yourself up if, from time to time, you find yourself getting a little jealous of another person.

Being in a relationship, it’s assumed that you’ll want to be a priority in your partner’s life and might feel confused or disappointed if you think that someone else is starting to occupy that spot.

While it’s true that you should work to push those feelings away, or rather reconcile with them, just know that the mere presence of jealousy can be little more than a sign that you’re loyal to your partner and care deeply about the state of your relationship. So, rest assured: Jealousy is not always a cause for concern.

2. Don’t project your jealousy.

It’s one thing to make peace with these feelings, but it’s another to act on your jealousy and project the negativity it unleashes onto the people around you. If you allow your jealousy to materialize into nasty manifestations of possessiveness or overprotectiveness, this will only work in antagonizing your partner or — inversely — alienating them from you. The last thing you want to do is attack your partner for something they might not have done on purpose or might not have understood as being disrespectful.

The trick here is to stop yourself before you have the chance to do anything you could regret and instead think about what you’ll be putting your partner through if you resort to launching accusations or ultimatums.

Take a deep breath and ask yourself earnestly: “Will whatever actions I’ve settled on doing actually fix the insecurity at the bottom of what I’m feeling?” I cannot overstate how important it is not to externalize what is internal to your own self.

3. Talk to your partner.

It’s not always easy being transparent about your emotions, especially those you’re not particular proud of or are hesitant to admit to having. Still, if you can, try and fight that initial impulse by opening up and starting a forthcoming conversation with your partner about what’s eating you up.

Being honest about what you’re experiencing — both the “whys” and the “hows” — will give way to healthy dialogue that might present you with an opportunity to further connect with your partner and establish common ground. This is because it will give them a rare chance to divulge if they’ve experienced similar feelings of jealousy and present you with their unique perspective on your experiences and the matter as a whole.

If feelings of jealousy go unattended, they have every possibility of festering and culminating into an extreme action that could very well deliver a permanent blow to your relationship. That’s why talking things through is invaluable. Calmly informing your significant other on where you stand and how you hope to remedy any negative sentiments will allow for a bridge of understanding to flourish between the two of you.

4. Rationalize these feelings.

Most of the time, jealousy is instinctual — something we can’t help but feel in the moment but might not necessarily be able to defend later on. In that way, it’s a reactive emotion that keeps tugging at our heartstrings hoping we’ll betray any speck of logic and give in to our worst anxieties. Rationalizing those volatile feelings until the emotional charge has been neutralized works wonders in depriving them of their power.

One way to rationalize your jealousy is to focus on all of the different ways you feel secure in your relationship. For example, recall all the times your partner expressed that they cared for you, or the things they’ve been doing to prove to you that they’re devoted and serious about the partnership. This collection of verbal affirmations will coalesce into the proof necessary for you to cogently reassure yourself of your own merit as a partner.

5. Drop the comparisons with the ex.

I know how tempting it is to measure yourself against your partner’s ex and try and locate those areas where you come out winning (maybe you find that you’re better looking, smarter, or friendlier than them), but don’t underestimate the insidious harm that comes with this pastime.

Not only does it get you to waste time and energy on someone who plays no active role in your relationship, but it also opens the door to a collection of jealous behaviors. This is because while you will win in some areas, it’s probable that you’ll lose in others, leaving you to feel insecure about the traits you consider yourself to be lacking in.

Obsessing over your partner’s ex is something you should vehemently avoid. The more you start to play the comparison game, the more potential there is for you to be irrationally threatened by minute things that are not, and never were, an issue in the first place and most likely didn’t factor into your partner’s thinking process when they started dating you.

There’s no point dedicating energy to someone who is a part of your significant other’s past. All of that belongs to yesterday; what matters today is your own relationship.

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