When It's OK To Be Jealous In A Relationship

by Laken Howard

As humans, we all feel twinges of jealousy, probably on a daily basis. From envying a friend's killer wardrobe to being jelly that your coworker got that promotion you were eyeing, instances of jealousy are perfectly normal — though not always healthy. The same goes for relationships: It's pointless to pretend that being in a happy relationship is synonymous with the absence of jealousy. But how can you differentiate between healthy and unhealthy jealousy in a relationship?

There's a fine line between jealousy and possessiveness, and it's important to keep yourself in check. If your partner introduces you to an attractive new coworker, it's natural to feel a small twinge of jealousy. But if that meeting causes you to snoop or make hasty accusations about the two of them, that's not healthy in the slightest.

"Jealousy is unhealthy when it leads to mistrust," says Francesca Hogi, a love and life coach based in NYC. "It's one thing to feel jealous, it's another thing to allow it to sabotage your relationship. If you're not trusting your partner, there's a bigger issue there. It's also unhealthy when it leads to self-loathing. Comparison is the enemy of happiness — don't fall victim to it."

That being said, jealousy in relationships can often arise when you're feeling unimportant to your partner, and is indicative of larger issues. Here are seven times your jealousy might be warranted, because they could be red flags that you and your partner aren't on the same page and need to regroup, communicate, and get back on the path to a healthy, mutually supportive relationship.

1. They Take Advice From Everyone But You

One of the best parts about being in a relationship? Always having someone to turn to when you need help or advice. You don't need your partner to approve of every decision you make, but it's nice to have a sounding board for your problems and frustrations. If your partner never turns to you for advice but, say, always calls up their mom or BFF instead, it's normal to feel jealous. It can be degrading to feel like your opinion isn't valued by the one person who's supposed to be on your team, and it's worth having a conversation with your partner to figure out what the underlying issue is.

2. They Always Prioritize Others First

Being independent is vital to a healthy relationship, but there's a difference between the two of you making time for yourselves and having a partner who constantly puts you on the back burner. It can be easy to slip into a routine where a live-in partner becomes more of a roommate than an SO, but it's important that you both put in the effort to make time for each other through date nights and fun outings. If you feel like you're constantly coming in last place to coworkers, family, and friends, it might be time to talk about priorities.

3. Their Ex Oversteps Boundaries

Believe it or not, there are people out there who peacefully coexist with their exes — and some who even remain good friends. This isn't a negative thing at all, but if your partner is friendly with an ex who is cold to you or disrespectful of you and your SO's relationship, it's totally valid to feel jealous. While delivering ultimatums isn't always the best choice (and should be done sparingly), sometimes you have to cut out someone who's doing more harm than good to your relationship. If your SO hesitates to cut contact with an ex who's mean to you, it's a sign that you're not top priority.

4. They Dish Out Compliments To Others, But Criticize You

It can be easy when you're in a LTR to forget that your partner doesn't necessarily take for granted your feelings about them. For example, if you have a partner who always tells their gal pals that they loves their outfit or hair, that's not necessarily a bad thing — your partner might just be friendly. But if they're slow to dish out the same courtesy to you, of course you're going to feel jealous. It's one thing to have to occasionally remind your SO to give you some verbal reassurance or throw some compliments your way. But if your partner withholds compliments in favor of criticisms, beware. You should never put up with a partner who feels like it's OK to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.

5. They Need Constant External Validation

It's always nice to feel appreciated by people other than our SOs, but if you're dating someone who goes out of their way to fish for compliments from friends or even strangers, it might be a red flag that there's a deeper problem. I recently read a post on Reddit's relationships page where a young man was feeling guilty about his jealousy that his girlfriend was posting revealing photos on Tumblr. He didn't want to be possessive or controlling, but his gut was telling him something wasn't right. Though every situation is different, if you're uncomfortable with your partner seeking validation from others, it's worth an honest conversation at the very least to set healthy boundaries.

6. They Always Work Super Long Hours

While there's nothing wrong with hard work and dedication to your career, it can also become damaging to a relationship if one partner is spending an unhealthy amount of time at work. It may seem silly to be jealous of your partner's work — after all, it's inanimate — but it's almost trickier to navigate this particular type of jealousy, because you don't want to seem selfish or like you're holding your partner back professionally. Nonetheless, if your partner's job is always a top priority (even over his or her own health), it's reasonable to feel jealous and talk to your partner about how you can spend more time together.

7. You Spend Time With Their Friends, But Never Yours

When you love someone, naturally you want them to become part of your life and show all the other people you love just how awesome your partner is. But if you have a stubborn SO who would rather have you come around their friends and family while casually ignoring your requests to integrate them into your social life, it's normal to feel jealous. It can feel like you're being robbed of time with your own friends and family, and also brings up insecurities: Does your SO not take your relationship seriously? Do they simply dislike your friends? Whatever the case, it makes sense that you'd feel jealous of the amount of time you two spend with his crew while neglecting yours, and it's vital to get on the same page so everyone's social needs are being met.

At the end of the day, it's up to you to recognize when your jealousy is healthy and normal and when it's veering into dangerous territory. "Too much jealousy is a sign that you aren't taking care of yourself and are too outwardly focused," Hogi says." If you feel yourself starting to get jealous, take a deep breath. Acknowledge that it's a normal emotion, but choose to focus on the only thing you can: yourself. Take an inventory of your life — what's out of whack? Emotionally, physically, spiritually, professionally — focus on getting yourself to a better place. You'll be happier and have a lot more confidence, which will kill those jealous impulses!"

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