It’s annoying, hurts and destroys the relationship – three reasons why we want to fight jealousy. Admittedly: It’s not easy. But it can be done! And we’ll tell you how.
Let’s not beat around the bush: jealousy is insanely exhausting! When your thoughts constantly revolve around your partner … What if he betrays me? What if he cheats on me with someone else? If he loves her more than me? jealous feelings are sometimes so possessive that they affect our whole life. And often not only the jealous person suffers, but also the partner – and of course the relationship. Reason enough for us to fight our (or his) jealousy! However, to do so, we must first understand it.
Jealousy is human
The reassuring news first! Practically every person knows jealousy. On the one hand, this is proven by various surveys: on average, around 80 percent of those surveyed openly admit to being jealous. On the other hand, there is a very simple explanation for the fact that we share these feelings with most of our fellow human beings: Similar to envy, jealousy shows us who (or what) is important to us. And that gives us direction in life.
Small example. If we see that our partner is looking after a pretty woman with long legs and this makes us jealous, it shows us something like that his attention is important to us. Preferably, we want to be the only woman who interests him. This is not bad or unusual, after all, he is also the only man for us. In such a situation it would be almost surprising if nothing would stir in us at all – unless, of course, we are mingle.
Whereby: If we had the perfect self-confidence and an unshakeable self-esteem, we would probably be so sure of his love that such a look from our partner would not arouse any feelings of jealousy in us. But let’s be realistic: What living person in this world has absolute, invulnerable self-esteem?
Healthy vs. pathological jealousy
However, it becomes problematic when a tolerable, controllable and quite healthy jealousy turns into an unhealthy one. One that doesn’t just poke at us here and there, but takes over our actions and thoughts.
In our example situation, a healthy jealous reaction would be that we notice his look, have a stupid feeling and are irritated, maybe talk to our partner about it (“Wow, she had nice shoes, didn’t she?!”) and then quickly move on to completely different things (What’s for lunch? Am I going to visit my parents again this weekend?).
An alarming reaction would be to register his gaze and promptly lose the thread to the here and now. Instead, thoughts pop into our head like Why is he looking at her? Does he know her? Does he want something from her? He doesn’t love me! My legs are too fat for him! If we are unlucky, we even imagine him meeting her, kissing her, laughing at us. And possibly we’ll make a huge scene for him and have a terrible fight. One way or another – in any case, morbid jealousy completely ruins our mood.
Typical signs of unhealthy jealousy:
- Frequent brooding about partner and relationship, especially when he’s away without us
- Head movies and fantasies about him cheating on us
- Strong urge to control partner
- Secretly checking his private things (cell phone, emails, clothes)
- Strong self-doubt, great insecurity and fear of loss
- Relationship problems due to jealousy
If any of this sounds familiar, you’ve got some work to do – because fighting jealousy isn’t quite as easy as getting rid of a cold. But if you have the strength to bear the gnawing feeling in the first place, you are one hundred percent sure to put a stop to it.
How to fight jealousy in five steps
If we are pathologically jealous, we should admit to ourselves that we have a problem. Uncontrollable jealousy is not just a minor overreaction or quirk, but usually a sign that our self-esteem is too weak to move us forward on OUR path in life. We could almost be grateful to jealousy for pointing this out to us before it’s too late.
Once we have accepted that self-esteem and self-confidence are in the basement with us right now, we should clarify why. Did our parents constantly criticize us in the past? Were we not accepted by our classmates as a child? Did our ex betray us? Or has even our current boyfriend already cheated on us? If we find the cause of our lack of self-confidence, we will thereby (hopefully!) realize in retrospect that it was a complete fallacy to feel unlovable because of it.
We should let our partner in on it and include him in our fight against jealousy – especially if he has triggered it himself with a fling. If he loves us and we can make it clear to him what we lack in order to trust him,he will support us and make an effort to give it to us. After all, we both want the same thing: To save the partnership.
When we feel the next jealousy attack coming on – because we’re about to secretly check his cell phone, or get ready for an evening of lonely brooding while he’s out with friends – we should distract ourselves, with something nice. Cook something delicious, meet up with a friend, go to yoga, or watch your favorite show from beginning to end. If we manage two, three, four times to defy the terrible feelings of jealousy and replace them with beautiful experiences, our brain will realize that we are much better off without jealousy and gradually get used to the jealousy impulse (strategy works for most forms of addiction).
Make peace – with ourselves
Well, if this were as easy as it says …. But sooner or later we have to come to terms with the fact that we are valuable and lovable, even if we don’t have the firmest legs and just can’t tell jokes. One way to become more accepting of ourselves is to focus more on our interests and pursue what makes us happy, rather than comparing ourselves to others or conforming to others’ expectations. If we surround ourselves with people who are good for us, pursue hobbies we love, and convince ourselves with our professional performance, inner peace will come all by itself. And at the very latest, we know that he is not cheating on us. Or that he doesn’t deserve us if he does.