Jealousy can pretty much be the worst, and I feel like there's no such thing as good jealousy or bad jealousy — if it's jealousy, it's not awesome. That being said, there are certain signs that your partner has unhealthy jealousy, and this type of jealousy can really corrode the very fabric of your relationship and make everything just totally suck in your daily life.
You shouldn't be doing things to spark jealous feelings in your partner, and they should trust you enough that they shouldn't get upset if your phone dies and they don't know where you are, or if you spend the day with someone they don't know very well. But jealousy does happen, and unhealthy jealousy is a very real thing.
"We all experience jealousy at some point; the key to keeping things healthy is being able to identify the feeling and not allow it to control behavior," marriage and family therapist and relationship expert Esther Boykin tells Bustle.
I asked a gaggle of dating, love, and relationship experts how to tell if your partner has unhealthy jealousy, and they shared these very clear and present signs of such suspicious actions or behaviors, from being emotionally dependent to wanting you to act a certain way, that you can be on the lookout for in your own relationship. Hopefully you don't find anything of the sort, but now you know what to look out for.
1. They Want You Alone
"It can feel romantic and passionate when your partner wants to spend every waking moment alone with you, especially when love is new, but that kind of intense isolation is often a red flag," Boykin says. "Unhealthy jealousy rarely looks unhealthy in the beginning; it often looks loving, passionate and exciting — they can't get enough of you, they love you so much that they just want you all to themselves," she says. Though this may feel sweet initially, it is not cute long-term.
They might make sweeping statements that are thinly veiled statements of jealousy. "They don't think anyone else can appreciate you the way they do, or you're so amazing that they believe everyone loves you as much as they do and can't bear to share you," Boykin says. "These kinds of statements can sound grand, and flattering even, but the underlying insecurity and attempt to control are not the foundation of a lasting love affair."
Jealousy of this kind can't be part of a lasting relationship. "Missing you and wanting more time is OK; insisting that you spend all your time with them is not. Unhealthy jealousy can spin out of control into emotionally abusive relationships with only very subtle warnings along the way," Boykin says. Pay attention, and if you see something — like jealousy — say something.
2. They Suspect The Worst Of You
"When they suspect you and everyone around you of having the worst of intentions," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. This can look lots of different ways, but automatically assuming you're in the wrong is the theme here. "They look through your phone, they check up on you while you are out — ruining your evening — and they question you in a manner that is clear that it is not in the spirit of interest, but rather information gathering." It's great to have a mate who wants to know about your night because they care. Not so for the partner who needs to know every detail about your night because they don't trust you.
3. They Are Too Emotionally Dependent
"The sign which could reveal extreme jealousy is emotional dependency," Salama Marine, psychologist and online dating expert for dating website EliteSingles, tells Bustle. In this case, emotional dependency means that one of the partners wants to keep the other for themselves, she says. "Even if he or she is unhappy in the relationship, they feel that it’s too risky for them to be alone, and they are afraid of the unknown," Marine says.
If this is happening, your partner can act all kinds of jealous. "This causes different behavior: classic behavior such as being jealous or having to constantly need reassurance; but also believing that your value depends on the presence and the look of your partner; a lack of self-confidence and being ready to accept the unacceptable." Obviously, this is a situation that benefits no one, and should be identified immediately.
4. They Disapprove Of Your Favorite Things
"Obviously isolation from others who may be a sexual threat [is a sign of unhealthy jealousy], but also the idea that [certain] people, places and things in general are something that they disapprove of" can be a sign too, zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. "If you decide you love opera and your partner decides to start mocking operas, well, that is a form of jealousy," she says. "It is highly threatening to them in some way if they do not have the hobby and you are learning more or being happy without them; and if they have the hobby, they may see you as competition." Either way, it's a bad scene. "Not allowing you to be true to yourself, and your growth, is an inherently dysfunctional form of jealousy," Paiva says.
5. They Want To Control You
Straight up, you know your partner is unhealthily jealous when they try to control your life, psychologist, image consultant and dating expert Dr. Jennifer Rhodes tells Bustle. "Jealousy can cause people to behave in a scary and controlling manner." Whatever the behavior may be, it's not acceptable if it's done out of jealousy. "If he or she is checking your phone, accusing you of cheating or flirting, or is demanding to know your whereabouts, it is time to have a serious conversation about what is really going on," Rhodes says. You may be able to nip it in the bud if you address it right away.
6. They Want You To Act A Certain Way
"Your relationship partner crosses the line into unhealthy jealousy when they start making demands regarding your behavior," certified relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca tells Bustle. "Is your partner expecting you to do or not do certain things according to their desires?" If so, this cannot go on. "Do they feel justified in controlling your actions?" she continues. "Are you afraid to confront your partner about these demands for fear of conflict or physical response?" A yes to any of these questions means you're in unhealthy territory. "When you don't feel respected in your relationship for the choices you make and actions you take, it's time to move on and take back your life and autonomy," she says. For real!
7. They're Always Around
"One sure sign that your partner has gone over-the-top with the whole jealousy thing is that he or she starts sticking to you like glue, even refusing to do things that he or she really wants to do, just to keep an eye on you," relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships , tells Bustle. "Don't ignore this really big red jealousy flag: Suddenly your partner stops doing things that he or she really used to love to do, because the anxiety level about leaving you unattended is astronomical." Though it may feel good to have your boo overly interested in your life at first, be careful if this interest heads over to dangerous territory.
8. They Have To Be In Touch Always
"When your partner freaks out because you’re out without [them], and [they] can’t reach you, [they've] got an unhealthy streak of jealousy," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "When [they] blame you for not checking in with [them], not picking up your phone when [they] call and basically insinuate you’re cheating on [them] because you’re out without [them'], [your partner is] not acting in a healthy way." You have to be able to live your life. "Wanting you to be [theirs] is one thing — but not wanting you to have freedom, or your own life, is jealousy that is not healthy."
9. You Notice Stress Signs
"Tension in one’s body is an unmistakable sign of stress when seen in certain situations," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "Does your partner’s face tighten or clench their teeth or fists up whenever you speak to someone else when they are not close by? Do they stare at you while supposedly having a discussion with someone else? These are signs of an unhealthy jealousy." It's not always a done deal, but these combined with other things really can cause serious issues.
"Now, these indications by themselves are not a 100 percent indicator, but if combined with several other more obvious signals that this person is overly jealous, such as listening in on phone conversations or demanding to know your whereabouts all of the time, then this damaging jealousy could turn into something more sinister and dangerous," he says. Indeed. If you're experiencing this, get help. "Perhaps you need to rethink your relationship with that person, or at the very least let a close friend in on the situation," he says. And do it without delay!
10. They Watch You On Social Media
"If your partner is keeping tabs on your social media activity — namely who you follow, friend, like, or comment on, chances are there are some jealousy issues," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "Or if your partner is against you having a social media account or won't friend/follow your account, something is probably up as well." You need to be able to live your life. "Seeing how your partner reacts to your social media behavior is a good indicator of how controlling they'll be in real life," she says.
11. You Have To Give Detailed Accounts Of Your Whereabouts
If your partner constantly questions your whereabouts, it's a sign your partner is jealous in an unhealthy way, Stefanie Safran, Chicago's "Introductionista" and founder of Stef and the City, tells Bustle. When your partner demands that you always explain where you have been — even if it's work — this can be a sign of unhealthy jealousy, she says.
Once again, for the cheap seats: Under all circumstances, you need to be able to live your life.
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