How to Stop Being Jealous, According to Relationship Experts
Kick the green-eyed monster to the curb.
Jealousy is a part of life: In your career, friendships, and dating, it’s natural to turn green with envy occasionally—especially in romantic relationships. “Jealousy is extremely common in romantic relationships because both partners are required to be in vulnerable and uncertain states frequently,” clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow tells HelloGiggles. But if jealousy begins to take over your emotions and drive a wedge between you and your partner, it’s officially unhealthy.
Whether you’re jealous of the time your partner is spending with their friends or you’re uncomfortable with their relationship with an ex, jealousy isn’t something to sweep under the rug. If you do, it will only snowball into bigger problems in your relationship down the road. To avoid this, we tapped relationship experts for their tips for how to stop being jealous in relationships.
What causes jealousy in relationships?
Feeling jealous of your partner’s attention toward their friends or family and how that’s impacting time spent with you? This isn’t uncommon. “In general, jealousy is a normal human emotion—it signals an inner fear that asks, ‘Am I safe, loved, and worthy?'” clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Manly tells HelloGiggles. “Jealousy can arise in a romantic relationship for many reasons, none of which are mutually exclusive. In some cases, jealousy is instigated by low self-esteem; anxiety can arise if one partner fears that they are not as attractive, accomplished, desirable, or lovable as someone else.”
Aside from your own insecurities prompting jealousy, Dr. Manly says that “unsolved trauma” (either from childhood or previous relationships) can stir up feelings of being unworthy, betrayed, or unlovable. Finally, your partners’ untrustworthy behavior can spark jealousy, too. “If one partner engages in behavior that breeds mistrust and jealousy-related fears in the relationship, jealousy can arise,” Dr. Manly says. “This can occur through subtle or overt comparisons to others, flirtatious behavior, or other toxic patterns.”
Specifically, if the outside relationship your partner “highlights challenges in your relationship,” jealousy is even more likely, according to Dr. Klapow. “If the outside bond has what your relationship is lacking, you will see more jealous behavior,” he explains.
How to stop being jealous in a relationship:
So, you’ve accepted the fact that jealousy has taken a seat at the table in your relationship. Now what? Below, Dr. Klapow and Dr. Manly break down how to stop being jealous.
1. Reflect on why you’re feeling jealous.
First thing’s first: Figure out why you’re feeling jealous. Is your partner actually giving you reasons to be jealous? Are you falling into old habits from past relationships? Are your own insecurities getting in the way? When asking yourself these questions, you can discern why you’re actually feeling these emotions.
“If you find that you’re jealous of your partner’s friendships with others, it’s likely that the jealousy is simply telling you that you’d like to have more time with your partner,” Dr. Manly explains. “By reflecting on this and then talking about it with your partner, you can work toward a solution that feels right for your both. This may involve increasing time together while also expanding one’s friendship circle or engaging in new hobbies that feel enlivening.”
The bottom line is that we need to look inward before we outwardly discuss feelings of jealousy with a partner. “When we decode the messages that are hidden within feelings of jealousy, we can move forward in more enlightened, empowered ways,” Dr. Manly says.
2. Communicate clearly.
Once you’ve landed on the culprit behind your jealousy, communicate your feelings to your partner. “Not communicating directly about feelings of jealousy but rather masking it as other relationship problems (i.e. dedication, love, trust, bonding, etc.) will perpetuate the jealousy and create a new set of problems,” Dr. Klapow explains. Be upfront about your feelings so you can get to the root of the problem and hopefully, your partner will put you at ease so you can stop being jealous.
On the flip side, if you suspect that your partner is experiencing jealousy, Dr. Klapow suggests that you approach them “gently and compassionately.”
“Because they’re jealous, they’re feeling hurt and perhaps not able or willing to communicate about it,” he explains. “Let your partner know you’re noticing certain behaviors as they relate to your friendship, while reminding them that you care about them and that you’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”
“Jealousy” can be a triggering word for some people, so Dr. Klapow suggests not using it explicitly, but instead, asking your partner if they have concerns about your friendships with others. Let them describe how they feel about the situation and the current status of your relationship. “Get them talking in a way that feels safe for them,” Dr. Klapow says.
3. Use it as a learning experience.
Finally, once you’ve discussed the situation with your partner and learned how to stop being jealous, use the situation as a broader learning experience. “Occasional, fleeting jealousy is a normal part of life,” Dr. Manly says. “It’s important to attend to jealousy when it arises, as there is a message within the emotion itself. Jealousy is not necessarily good or bad; it’s how we use jealousy to learn about ourselves and our relationships that is most important.”