Jealousy is a feeling that can be very intoxicating and powerful if not managed properly. It can lead to many problems in relationships and inner turmoil.
Many times people think jealousy is caused by others but it is caused by our thinking (expectations, judgments and assumptions) and unmet needs. When a partner doesn’t follow our expectations or when we think that possibly someone else is more “special” to him or her we begin to ignite jealousy. Other times it may be that someone has been unfaithful in the past and their is a need for trust. The past event is a stimulus or trigger but not the cause of jealousy. The lack of trust is the unmet need. Satisfy the need and the jealousy will go away. The relationship can also be restored.
Usually there are other emotions that are closely related to jealousy as well such as fear, resentment, and anger. Fear of losing someone or the significant other having an affair are usually the most difficult to contend with for most people.
This fear can even lead to an obsession. For instance some people will justify taking a day off of work and following someone around all day to find out if this person is faithful. It is good to remember that many times the fear is simply based on an assumption and the result of the decision to obsess is very detrimental to the relationship.
Many times this behavior actually causes the other partner to become defensive and resentful and there is a higher likelihood that what is feared will occur. Because the relationship suffers in the areas of trust, respect, intimacy and security the partner in suspicion may go and fulfill these needs elsewhere with someone else.
It is crucial for men and women to realize that there are healthy ways to deal with jealousy and that there is something we can do about it.
So, how do we deal with jealousy?
Dealing with Jealousy
Firstly, it is healthy to identify jealousy as a feeling and an alarm. When we remember that it is a feeling and alarm we realize that it is telling us that there is unmet need that we need to attend. Jealousy is not caused by other people it is a result of how we interpret what others are doing or not doing and unmet needs.
The second thing we can do is write down a list of unmet needs that may be causing us to feel jealous. Some examples may be a need for attention, love, intimacy, affirmation, security, trust, sexual expression, respect, etc.
The third thing we can do is communicate these needs with our partner and look at ways that these needs can be met. This is done without judging or blaming the other. If it is not possible to talk to the other person the individual can still consider things he or she can do to meet his or her needs. Sometimes setting boundaries or limits can be beneficial.
The fourth thing that is helpful to do is to look at the triggers (words, actions, situations) of your jealousy. What are some things that stir up this emotion in you? You may want to talk about this with your partner as well and see if both of you can come to a fair agreement that will meet your needs and her needs.
For instance, a trigger may be that a partner comes home two hours late. In this situation the person who is triggered can share that when this occurs he feels uncomfortable and jealous because he needs trust and respect for his time. He can ask if the partner can call him or her or be on time.
Another reason some people are more prone to feel jealousy is because of their experiences with negative messages about themselves or past experiences with abandonment. This may produce some insecurity and a desire to know that we are valued and loved by others. This person may be more dependent on affirmation and being seen as special and valuable and as a result when this is not present feel sad, bitter, jealousy and appear insecure. Gaining confidence in oneself and having some positive statements to fall back on that lift the individuals self worth may be very helpful. Also, it would be wise for the individual to meet with someone (a mentor) and talk about this and be held accountable to thinking positive. The mentor can also affirm the individual and work on buiding self-worth.
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