How to Deal With Jealousy in Relationships

New York Times Wordle

Even the most intimate interpersonal relationships can be shattered by jealousy. Learn more about the broader definition of jealousy to help you deal with it when it arises.


What Is Jealousy?

Jealousy is a negative emotion in which a person feels envious of something that another person has. For example, you may experience emotional jealousy if your best friend at work receives a promotion that you believe you deserve. Romantic jealousy can develop when you see your partner enjoying the company of another person. You may have experienced sibling rivalry as a child, competing with your brothers or sisters for your parents' affection.


What Causes Jealousy?

Jealousy results from feelings of insecurity. When you have low self-esteem and are dissatisfied with your own life and relationships, it is very easy to become envious of others who appear to have it all. While different types of jealousy manifest in different ways, they all stem from these fundamental feelings of inadequacy.

Anxiety, borderline personality disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and even schizophrenia can all be blamed for a person's jealousy. These mental health issues can distort your thinking in a negative way, exacerbating jealous tendencies into a distinct pathology in their own right (morbid jealousy).


Why Is Jealousy Harmful?

Pathological jealousy has the potential to disrupt or even destroy close relationships with loved ones. Obsessive negative thoughts, for that matter, will jeopardize your own happiness, self-worth, and sense of well-being. Building trust and practicing compassion for yourself and others, along with psychotherapy, can help you overcome your jealousy.


3 Major Signs of Jealousy

Jealousy is a complex emotion that manifests itself in a variety of ways. These are just three key indicators to be aware of:

1. Distrust: Assume you and your significant other are in a monogamous relationship. You lash out at them for sexual or emotional infidelity every time you see them interact with someone they may be attracted to. This jealousy stems from a complete lack of faith in their love and respect for you.

2. Insecurity: Jealousy arises from a perceived or real threat to your valued relationships. This could manifest as an extreme sense of reliance on another person. Examine and conquer insecurities like these to overcome jealousy.

3. Irritability: Jealousy is frequently associated with an increase in irritability. This type of reactive jealousy increases the likelihood that you will lash out at a close friend, coworker, or loved one about whom you are jealous.


Jealousy versus Envy

People frequently confuse jealousy and envy, but there are significant individual differences between these two mainstays of human behavior. While both jealousy and envy are motivated by a desire for something one does not have, jealousy focuses on the anger or resentment associated with this desire. Envy, on the other hand, is the feeling itself.

Assume a family member dies and leaves a much larger sum of money to your sibling than they did to you. If you are primarily envious, you would spend the majority of your time wishing you had the money. If you're primarily a jealous person, you'd be fixated on how unfair it was that your sibling received the money instead of you.


How to Deal With Jealousy

You will almost certainly experience jealousy at some point in your life; what matters is how you deal with it. Keep the following suggestions in mind as you work to overcome the "green-eyed monster" in a healthy manner:

Examine the underlying issues. Examine your basic attachment style to see if you're getting what you need from your relationships. Jealousy stems from deep-seated fears. For example, you may have an undiagnosed fear of abandonment, which causes you to lash out at your friends and romantic partners for spending time with others. You'll have a better chance of overcoming this fear if you examine where it came from.

Build trust. When people are unaware of another person's intentions or behavior, they develop suspicious jealousy. If it's appropriate, tell your friends, family, and romantic partners that you want to improve your trustworthiness. Overcoming jealousy necessitates moving past your own insecurities and allowing others to demonstrate their dependability and trustworthiness.

Heal from past wounds. Real and long-lasting pain is frequently at the root of jealous people's negative behavior and emotions. Assume someone witnessed their long-term romantic partner's sexual infidelity with another close friend. Even if their new partner has no intention of cheating, they may develop sexual jealousy in future relationships. Taking the time to heal from such past wounds will assist you in working toward healthier relationships.

Prioritize open communication. People are more likely to become jealous when they do not communicate, according to social psychology. Maintain open lines of communication in your friendships and romantic relationships. Be truthful to yourself and to one another. Openness fosters trust, and trust thwarts jealousy.

Seek mental health care. Speak with a mental health professional about why you feel jealousy the way you do. You can overcome your jealousy feelings with both cognitive behavioral therapy and medical intervention through psychiatry.

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