Are you ever tempted to look at your partner’s phone? Or if you’re dating someone new… do you ever feel an urge to peruse social media for a glimpse of their ex?
Jealousy is normal…but only to a degree. If you or your partner’s green-eyed monster is rearing its head a little too often, then this week’s episode is for you.
I’m going to break down the differences between normal and extreme jealousy and help you locate the origin of a jealous streak so you can decode it, deactivate it, and move into more healthy ways of relating.
Jealousy, if left unchecked, can damage your relationships, your internal peace, and wellbeing. So let’s talk about it, shall we?
Certain kinds of jealousy are pretty normal. You might feel jealous if someone else has something you want. Maybe you feel a flash of jealousy over a friend who is better at something than you are or a sibling who you feel has been favored within your family system. Today, I’m addressing romantic jealousy specifically, because it can be absolutely toxic to relationships.
First, let’s break down what extreme jealousy is and what it can look like in practice.
Extreme jealousy has a pathological element to it. It can be compulsive and even obsessive. If jealous thoughts and impulses are overly intrusive, it’s time to take a closer look. Extreme jealousy isn’t fleeting like normal jealousy. It persists even when there is no logical “evidence” to support it.
Extreme jealousy can look like you feel like your partner is looking at literally every other person in a lustful way. Or, reversed, you might experience your partner accusing you of flirting with the random friendly barista that just sold you both your coffee (when clearly, you were not).
It can look like bringing up situations or other relationships from the past that have nothing to do with what is going on in the moment. You might not think your partner will ever cheat on you, but if you experience feelings of dread and suspicion every time they go out with a pal, it is crucial to uncover where those feelings are really coming from.
There are situations that might legitimately threaten the relationship. Let’s say your partner creates a loving and consistent relationship with someone else and tells you they are just friends, but it makes you feel uncomfortable and disrespected. In a healthy relationship, there have to be mutually agreed-upon rules of engagement and open communication (this goes for monogamous and non-monogamous relationships). You should feel comfortable sharing your feelings and re-setting a boundary if needed.
Then there are situations that are only happening in one person’s mind (like the barista example). If your partner makes snide remarks about you flirting or the way you dress or you feel like you are constantly defending your faithfulness, it is a red flag. In this way, extreme jealousy is also a form of emotional and verbal abuse. When there is extreme jealousy in an unhealthy relationship, it is almost like they are expecting the worst of you.
From a psychotherapeutic point of view, I want to be sure we are all on the same page about how incredibly damaging and caustic perpetual extreme jealousy can be. In my honest opinion, no relationship can survive it forever.
How can there be any trust in a relationship if you and/or your partner are accusing one another all the time? So what can you do?
1. Uncover Your Jealousy Blueprint
Your “blueprint” is the collection of the conscious and unconscious ways you relate to jealousy and fidelity. These ways of relating are informed by all of the different experiences you’ve had in your life, your family system, cultural norms and taboos, and many other factors.
This learned behavior is not your fault, but it IS your responsibility to figure it out…especially if jealousy is negatively impacting your life! The good news is, once you understand what might be driving your jealousy (or, why you might be involved with a jealous partner), YOU have the power to re-write your blueprint and make lasting change.
Inside this week’s downloadable guide, I’m giving you questions to help you uncover your jealousy blueprint. You can get access right here.
2. Do a Social Media Cleanse
Time to get mindful of how much time you’re spending going down the rabbit hole of social media cyber-stalking. Listen: there is so much information literally at our fingertips in this day and age and believe you me, I can understand googling someone you’re romantically interested in or checking out their Facebook profile but that is different than full-on cyberstalking all of their exes. (Or yours for that matter.)
Take a quick inventory of what you’re doing on social media. How much time are you spending, and how does it make you feel? If you’re scrolling through posts of your ex to see what their new GF looks like or spending hours looking for info on someone your partner complimented in passing, it’s likely best for you to reign it in and check your compulsion. Block your exes or hide them from your newsfeed. Instead of getting into detective mode, have a direct conversation with your person. Your peace of mind and your relationship will benefit.
3. Get Clear About Your Relationship to Yourself
If you feel a lot of jealousy or are experiencing it from a partner, take some time and space to sit with these questions:
How is your self-esteem?
Do you think you are worthy of someone being madly and deeply in love with you?
Are you really projecting your own insecurities on your partner or others?
Do you deeply love yourself?
Do you celebrate yourself?
Are there past wounds around infidelity you need to tend?
Your relationship with yourself sets the bar for every other relationship in your life, so get clear on how you feel about you and how you’ve been treating yourself.
I would love to hear from you and how you experience jealousy. You can grab the guide right here, connect with me in the comments below or on Instagram @terricole and tell me what you discovered! If you think this could add value to someone else’s life, please share it!
We are all perfectly imperfect humans and sometimes, jealousy is a part of our human experience. I hope this helps you get a better understanding of how you relate to jealousy and as always, take care of you.