Learning how to deal with relationship jealousy is important for every couple, especially if one or both partners are prone to feeling worried about each other's commitment. You or your partner may not like to admit having a jealous streak, but at a certain point it can get out of hand. "When jealousy gets unmanageable, that's when it gets beyond the level of communication and into panic attack territory. You can't sleep, you can't work, you can't function in your life," Lindsey Chrisler, a love and dating coach based in New York City, tells Bustle.
It's natural to feel uncomfortable if you see someone flirting with your partner. But I know from personal experience that feeling jealousy over a long period of time in a relationship can start to feel like a trap. Even when you don't want to experience that awful feeling of jealousy, it can be hard to shake it off. Who's your partner texting? Is he really staying at work late to meet a project deadline? Why won't she answer my calls? These are all questions that are caused by relationship jealousy.
Where Does Jealousy Come From?
Relationship jealousy often stems from our own insecurities about whether or not we're good enough, good looking enough, smart enough and so on. Those insecurities tend to go back to attachment styles that were established when you were kid, which can affect your relationships later in life. For instance, fear of abandonment can develop if your primary caregiver at home was unreliable or often absent, Chrisler says.
On the other hand, jealousy can also be a cause of an unstable relationship that lacks in communication and trust. For instance, if you and your partner have decided to open your relationshipbuthaven't clearly defined what's OK and what's not, jealousy is bound to rear its ugly head at some point. Different personality types can also be a predictor of jealousy, Chrisler says. Some people are more susceptible to harboring self-doubt or personal insecurities, which is more likely to give rise to jealousy in relationships. And then there are people like to be in control and make their partners jealous. Those situations are more toxic and it's important to recognize partners that are being manipulative.
When Jealousy Is A Good Thing
At the same time, a little bit of jealousy can actually be healthy for relationships (believe it or not). Ideally in a secure relationship, the right amount of jealousy can be a reminder that you care about each other and even add some sexual tension. "It's a very normal emotion that comes up in relationships because we're afraid we're going to lose something," Chrisler says. "In relationships, it makes people happy and think, 'Oh good, you care about not losing me.' It can actually show loyalty and love, and bring you closer."
"Everybody gets jealous, but how that gets escalated in your way of thinking and feeling is determined by how well you can manage your own state."
Of course, like most things in life, there needs to be a balance between the occasional sharp pang of jealousy and full-on obsession. "Everybody gets jealous, but how that gets escalated in your way of thinking and feeling is determined by how well you can manage your own state," Chrisler says. "The more insecure you are, the more you don't believe in yourself, the more you don't have a solid support system or other activities beyond this romantic relationship, and the more likely it is that the jealousy is going to get out of control."
Here are seven steps to dealing with jealousy that's become too much to manage: