Jealousy in a relationship can be challenging. It causes some of us to worry we are being replaced by another. And others might use it to feel they matter to their partner. Whatever the reason, let’s explore how to understand jealousy’s grip on our relationships.
Everyone Gets Jealous
If you are human, you have felt jealous. You might even have some early memories of really feeling the pain of jealousy when you were young. I like to think it’s pretty common for all of us as we grow up to experience the hurt associated with being jealous.
But why do we keep feeling it and how to do we deal with it when we grow up and are in what we consider an adult relationship? Why is it we often still get re-injured, or we re-injure our mate, and it always centers around jealousy in a relationship?
As a couple counselor I work with people in relationships. Often, the difficult issues surround feelings of jealousy. So let’s talk about it and understand what happens to us and our partner when we feel it.
Why We Experience Jealousy in a Relationship
We feel jealous when we think our special person, the one who is supposed to love us, even looks at another that could be better, prettier, (or more handsome), smarter, more successful etc. We feel the pang of being replaced, sometimes with only a glance. And we feel it! Oh yeah, we feel it!
So what are we feeling? We are feeling left out, abandoned, rejected. This experience can lead some of us to wonder if we are enough, or that maybe there is something wrong with us. These thoughts might lead some of us to think, “If I was thinner,” “If I paid more attention,” or “If I were better…” Just fill in your thoughts, if you have them.
Jealousy in a Relationship Occurs When We Feel Unsafe or Replaceable
Maybe you can see that when someone thinks they are being left, even for a glance at another, there are feelings that arise. Most of the time, the first experience is that we are no longer safe in the relationship. We are not protected by the one we love. We don’t feel “special” to them anymore.
And how do we react when we feel jealous? Sometimes we get mad at our partner…and that’s exactly what he or she wants. Some people think if we know we have hurt someone by desiring another and they tell us they are mad, doesn’t that mean they really love us? It may sound weird to read, but this scenario plays out pretty well in some people’s heads.
Want to Feel Secure and Connected? Show Your Love, Instead of Using Jealousy to Reassure Yourself
Maybe when we were really young and we knew we could make someone jealous and it felt good to make someone angry because that just showed how much they loved us. We might have thought that making our partner jealous was a good thing. This is something people might tell themselves. It’s true, it does show some strong emotion, but some people make a habit out of this behavior and the heart can’t be crushed too many times and spring back like new.
If a couple is stuck in this sort of pattern, both people are probably exhausted trying to know they are the special one to the other because the relationship is always unstable. The truth is people who operate this way probably love each other deeply, they just have to learn new ways to show it.
Get a Helping Hand with Curbing Jealousy in Your Relationship
Can’t make it on Monday? Learn how to overcome jealousy in a relationship by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It’ll help you understand each other and feel safer in your relationship. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.