You’re having dinner with your sweetheart when a handsome guy passes by your table. She gives him a long look. How do you react? How about when he raves about the smart, great looking new secretary at the office? Or she calls you by her ex’s name? Does jealousy, the green-eyed monster as Shakespeare called it, overtake you and make you crazy? Do you silently seethe or cause a fight? For some of us, that’s exactly what happens.
Over-the-top jealousy affects both genders equally and can happen even in casual relationships. Why? Because for one reason or another you feel inadequate, insecure and overly dependent stemming from your childhood. Perhaps you were the first born, basking in all your parents’ attention, and then…your brother came along. Or your dad constantly compared you to the good kid next door and you never seemed to measure up. Whatever it was, it left a wad of jealousy in your gut which can be easily triggered in your present relationships. You view every little thing as a threat and react accordingly. Extreme jealousy can make you miserable and put a big wedge between you and your sweetheart.
So what do you do? First thing is to determine whether or not your partner is right for you. If they are habitually flirtatious and determined to stay that way, you are with the wrong person. With your sensitivities, it’s unlikely you will ever feel secure in this relationship. Better to move on and find someone more suitable.
But if you determine that it’s your issue, then take responsibility. Become aware of your inappropriate behaviors. Like snooping through your partner’s e-mails, or secretly searching for messages on their phone, or spying in some other way. If you do any of this…STOP. Your behavior is inappropriate and demeaning to you. It also undermines trust in your relationship. Why not talk to your partner about it? Tell him/her that you know you are extremely sensitive in this area and are working to curb your suspicion. Ask them to help by not deliberately provoking you.
Be aware that a little jealousy can actually enhance love. Seeing someone flirting with your partner, if it’s not extreme, can actually rekindle some appreciation and romance. Extreme jealousy, however, can get so out of control that it could lead to violence…even homicide. So best to tame the demon now before it gets to this dangerous stage. You’ll feel better inside, and your relationship will be happier too.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, www.infidelityandaffairs.com and buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (both print and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble.