11 Signs Jealousy Is A Problem In Relationships
Jealousy is toxic. I want to put that out there, right away, with no flowery intros. If jealousy is a problem in your relationship, not only do you risk your happiness, but you risk your safety. That's because it's really hard to tell when jealousy is just unhealthy, or when it's a red flag for dangerous behaviors, like control, and violence. I don't mess around with jealousy. Because I've seen firsthand how it can have devastating consequences when left unchecked. In fact, when I worked as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, jealousy was was a factor is nearly every case of abuse.
Humans are humans, and most of us get jealous at one point or another, so how can we tell if jealousy is a problem in our relationships, and not just a passing twinge of insecurity? The easy (and difficult) answer is: control. If jealousy is a fleeting emotion you experience on rare occasions that passes and doesn't impact your life, then odds are, you're just a human who loves something. If that jealousy leads to controlling behaviors, then it's a problem. Check out these other signs that clarify when jealousy is a problem in your relationship, and if it is, deal ASAP. Because I can tell you from experience, it only ever gets worse over time.
1. You Have To Change Your Clothes
Your personal style is yours. When you have a partner who doesn't want you to look too sexy, too pretty, too anything, for fear that other people will look at you, then that partner is mixing jealousy with controlling behaviors, which is the ultimate no-no. Your partner can have an opinion about what you wear or how you look, but you have to be free to disagree, ignore it and do what you want. Important to note: if your partner says they're doing it out of concern for your safety, don't fall for it. It's a manipulation used to try to justify controlling behavior. Wear whatever you want,
2. You Can't Hang Out With Certain People
In most cases, who you chose to hang out with is up to you. Sometimes you and your partner might decide together that you should't talk to a particular person, but if that happens, it will be a rare occurrence. If it happens all the time, it's probably jealousy. If your partner doesn't want you to go anywhere without them, or doesn't want you hanging out with certain friends, it's likely that they think you'll cheat or do something you're not "supposed to do" without their supervision.
3. You Have to Make Sure Your Partner Is Happy
You'll know when jealousy is causing you to alter your behavior to make your partner happy when you hear yourself saying (or thinking), "I don't think my partner will appreciate that" before you do just about anything. You'll put your needs on the back burner and sometimes feel like you're walking on eggshells in order to keep the jealousy monster in its cage. The worst part is, your partner probably does whatever they want without ever considering how you feel about it.
4. Your Partner Gets Moody Over Small Things
Does your partner get moody when you give (what they think is ) too much attention to your dog? It may seem silly, but jealousy can manifest itself in a ton of small ways that don't jump out at you all at once. Like, does your partner sulk or get mad if you want to spend the evening painting or going for a run instead of paying attention to them? Do they not want you to go to school because you'll be gone too much and there will be too many drunk college hotties there? Do they freak when you're on your phone because they assume you're sexting someone when you were really just playing Candy Crush? Sometimes it's just the little things.
5. You Change Your Plans Without Being Asked
Do you always worry in the back of your mind how your partner will feel whenever you make plans? You might be on jealousy autopilot because you've been trained (through manipulation) to put your partner's desires above all else. The sneaky thing about this is that you might turn down a coffee date with your squad on your partner's day off just to avoid a conflict, and later your partner gets to say, "I never asked you to do that." Like you had a choice.
6. It's Your Fault When People Flirt With You
When someone hits on you, does your partner say, "I can't blame them. You're gorgeous." Or do they say, "You must have given them a reason to think they had a chance"? That's such a loaded statement. First of all, you do not control the behavior of random strangers in your vicinity. Second, if someone asks you out or even just winks at you while you're crossing the street, your partner should not make you feel like you did something wrong. That's jealousy run amok.
7. Your Successes Start Problems
Do you downplay you accomplishments? Pretend good grades, or promotions, or high praise from others aren't that important? Does your partner get moody about the idea of you making more money or being more successful? Can you never truly enjoy when something great happens to you because you know your partner will be jealous? That's a problem. A true partner shares in your joys and supports your goals, no matter where they are in their own lives.
8. Your Partner Always Wants To See Your Phone
Do you have to give your partner complete access to your phone or all hell breaks loose? Do you have to account for every text, explain every phone call, defend the goal of every selfie, and limit who you talk to on social media? That's a total lack of trust, an invasion of privacy, and a case of jealousy leading to control. You don't have to share the contents of your phone with anyone, and if your partner can't trust you (or vice versa) then they have no business being your partner. True story.
9. Social Media Is A Hot Mess
If you like a picture on Instagram of your cousin who lives in another state, will you get a stream of angry texts asking you why you're liking random singles' photos? If you comment on something, and later, one of your exes comments on the same post, will you get the third degree? Are you not allowed to post selfies? Do you have to ask before you post anything? Red flag. Just like your clothes, friends, and free time, your social media is yours to control. You have the power. You don't need permission to like a photo or chat with an old friend.
10. You're Always Getting Accused Of Cheating
Have you ever been sitting on the couch on a random Wednesday, laughing at stupid TV, when your partner says something like, "Why are you so happy? Are you getting laid by someone else?" Do they just randomly make comments about how you're probably cheating on them? This is ridiculous behavior. Not to sound like a broken record, but if your partner can't seem to accept that you're not cheating on them, no matter what you do, then they're not the partner for you. Trust is essential. Like, really essential.
11. Your Friends Are Like "What?"
If something's wrong in your relationship, especially if there's a lot of jealousy that leads to controlling behaviors, your family and friends will know. They'll (hopefully) say something. If a lot of people who care about you and have your best interests at heart express concern, it's worth at least thinking about. Especially if your partner always has a convenient excuse about why they would think that. Like, "They just don't like me ever since I..." or, ironically, "they're just jealous."
If jealousy is a part of your everyday life, it probably affects you in ways you haven't even realized yet. Sometimes you and your partner can work through jealousy issues, but sometimes you just have to leave before you end up in a dangerous situation. If you need help deciding if you're in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, or if you need help leaving, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline to talk to a relationships expert.
Images: Pexels; Isla Murray/Bustle