Jealousy can rip apart a relationship, slowly but surely obliterating everything good about everything and leaving you feeling pretty awful. This may sound harsh, but if it’s your reality, you probably are wondering what can I do about a jealous partner? No one wants to live with a super jealous partner, but if you’re in love with a jealous type, and you want to stay together, something has to change.
The good news is that it’s possible to find a solution. I spoke with nine relationship experts, and they all conveyed a sense of positivity about the whole thing, reminding us that it is possible to find real change within a relationship, as long as both parties are really serious about figuring out what to do. They all gave great tips to seek a better, easier situation together, and revealed excellent advice as to what exactly you should do if you’re dealing with a jealous boo. No matter what the cause, jealousy is awful, and there’s no need to just accept it as part of your reality. Many experts cited insecurity as a sure-fire cause of jealousy, and gently shared some great methods to open up with your partner and figure out how to take their jealousy down a notch (or five). Keep these nine things in mind if you’re working with a jealous mate.
1. They’re Insecure
“Some partners are extremely jealous because of an insecurity developed within,” author and relationship expert Alexis Nicole White tells Bustle. “Perhaps they have been cheated on, or they have spent a lot of time with an individual that makes them develop a general mistrust or distrust of others.” This is not your fault, but if the end result is a serious jealous streak, it is your problem.
“While this is not healthy, the only thing you can really do to prevent this from happening is to be who you say you are, do what you said you’re doing, and be where you’re supposed to be to build up that level of trust,” she says. If, after a long time of being trustworthy, your partner is jealous as ever, it’s time for a serious chat.
2. They Learned Jealousy When They Were Young
“Some partners may be jealous because of what they viewed in their family of origin — the family that they grew up in,” Texas-based psychotherapist Richard E. Toney tells Bustle. “Or some partners may be jealous for issues related to emotional attachment.” It’s possible that they saw something in their childhood that taught them to be wary of people, or that they have trouble attaching without anxiety.
“Either way, there is nothing that you as a significant other can do to change this,” Toney says. “An issue of this sort has to be worked out within the heart and mind of the jealous partner.” You’re welcome to bring it up and request that your partner work on it, though. “An individual who has a jealous partner can do nothing wrong and still have a jealous partner question them about things that they’ve done.” That sucks — and if it happens, be sure to gently point out how this might be something they need to have a good look at.
3. They’re Understanding Your Journey Incorrectly
“Jealousy is a bastardization of love, it is an inaccurate understanding of someone else's journey,” Darren Pierre, educator, speaker and author of The Invitation to Love: Recognizing the Gift Despite Pain, Fear, and Resistance , tells Bustle. “Often, if we knew what it took to live the life of someone else, the sacrifices that are made, or the toll it can take on other areas, we would see our jealousy muted, respect rise, and a clear invitation for us to make changes in our life.”
Unfortunately, it’s not always so easy, and we can’t actually walk in a partner’s shoes, as tantalizing as it may be. “All you can do is to continue to do what you are doing, to be the fullest expression of yourselves,” Pierre says. “What remains true: If we do not turn jealousy into inspiration, we will allow jealousy to have a significant toll on our lives.” So use your partner’s jealousy as an inspiration to have a long talk about where it comes from, and take the opportunity to get to know your partner better.
4. Someone Cheated On Them In The Past
“Some partners are jealous because they’ve been betrayed before,” Tiya Cunningham-Sumter, certified life and love coach and author of A Conversation Piece , tells Bustle. “If they’ve been hurt by a past partner, they usually have their guard up and are even more suspicious in the next relationship,” she says.
But you can assure your partner that things are different now. “At some point, jealous partners are going to have to realize their new partner isn’t the same one who hurt them in the past,” she says. “They must start to trust, and they can begin by trusting themselves.” It may take some reassurance from you as well, but be sure to remind your partner they must have faith that they're a good partner who is worthy of a healthy relationship, she says.
“Examining all the reasons the new relationship works, what personal changes they themselves may have to make, as well as the good qualities of their new partner is a great way to begin to change this,” she suggests.
5. They Might Have A Couple Of Past Issues At Play
“Some people are traumatized from past experiences where a partner cheated on them or betrayed them,” dating coach and licensed marriage and family therapist Pella Weisman tells Bustle, echoing Cunningham-Sumter. “For others, it goes back to early childhood issues,” she says, as Toney advised. Regardless of the situation, Weisman has a solution.
“In either case, check in with your partner about what they need to feel more secure,” she says. “Some partners might need to check in more frequently, or want to get to know your friends who you like to spend time alone with.” Though it may not be ideal, if you’re willing to be flexible, you’ll be rewarded with a partner who can really trust you. “Figure out what you can agree to, and then stick to your agreements,” she says. From there, you’ll be happier — and your partner will too.
6. They’re Trying To Protect Themselves
“Jealousy is always based in insecurity, mistrust, or control — sometimes all of the above,” licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist Natalie Finegood Goldberg tells Bustle. “It's a form of self-protection: If I'm hyper-aware of my partner's behavior, then it will prevent anything bad from happening.” Of course, this doesn’t really work.
“Unfortunately, this is also magical thinking, and often creates cheating situations rather than preventing them,” she says. “Sometimes that insecurity may be legitimate — if a partner has cheated, then it makes sense to feel insecure — but it is almost always toxic, regardless of the reasons why or where it came from.” And if you’re with someone who is acting out toxic behavior, it’ll affect you in a negative way.
So how can you eliminate jealousy? Work together, and slowly jealousy should begin to fade away if both partners are committed to change.
7. They’re Afraid
“Jealousy happens because of insecurity, and insecurity can happen for many reasons in a relationship,” spiritual empath Tracee Dunblazier tells Bustle. Insecurity can happen before a relationship even starts, but the most important reason it happens within a relationship is “an inability or lack of willingness to be honest about what each partner needs in the relationship to feel safe mentally, emotionally, or physically.” Turn that around by facing it point-blank and asking what your partner needs from you to feel safe.
8. They Have A History
“There are many reasons a partner may be jealous: historical experiences in their own relationships, learned behavior during childhood, and something in this current relationship that feels off,” Gestalt life coach Nina Rubin tells Bustle. But don’t take it personally — if your slate is clean, you can roll up your sleeves and figure it out together.
“Rather than making threats and pushing away from the relationship you're in now, try to have a conversation about how it feels," Rubin suggests. “For the partner who is the object of the jealousy, it can be romantic at first — and then turn into frustration when a partner does not trust you, and you've done nothing wrong.” It might feel good to have a partner feel jealous in the beginning, but eventually it’ll get old.
The best way to start is to have a conversation about what it feels like to be untrusted, she says. For example, let them know it makes you feel distant and work out solutions that help you both. “Being communicative and forthcoming about your life is a great way to counter the jealousy,” she says.
9. Who Cares — Don’t Take It Personally
“Don't take your partner's jealousy personally,” certified relationship coach Dedeker Winston tells Bustle. “You may very well be doing everything right — offering lots of reassurance, being emotionally open and intimate, avoiding scenarios that you know trigger your partner's jealousy — and it still may not be enough.”
Just keep in mind that this isn’t your problem, and there’s nothing you can do, other than show up. “The best you can do is offer 100 percent of your side of meeting your partner halfway,” Winston says. “The other half is your partner's own individual journey of self-growth.” Anything is possible if you’re both committed to finding a solution.
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