What’s Wrong With a Little Bit of Jealousy?

Once insecurity enters a relationship, the bond begins to weaken.

Posted Feb 20, 2018

Jealousy breeds doubt, and when doubt enters a relationship, insecurity often follows. Sadly, insecurity leads to the need to keep asking for reassurance from a partner or friend, and this can become tiresome and draining for the object of the jealous feelings pretty quickly. The surest way to begin the end of a relationship is to fill it with doubt and neediness.

At the extremes are those partners who are so jealous of potential threats to their relationships that they try to monopolize their partner or friend’s time and activities. This can lead to disaster, as the object of the jealousy begins to feel hemmed in and controlled.

Being jealous of the time your friend spends with other friends is really a reflection of your own insecurity. Seeking professional help is sometimes the best way to step outside of your own perspective and gain a more objective view of a relationship.

When your jealousy leads you to spend so much time fearing the worst or wanting what others have that you can’t enjoy your relationships or experiences, it’s reached a dangerously detrimental level.

Jealousy or Envy? Which is Which?

What Does Jealousy of Others’ Achievements or Possessions Say About You?

Jealousy has the potential to be a complex and extremely painful emotion; it can reflect our own sense of inner insecurity and insufficient sense of self-worth. Jealousy of others’ happiness and healthy relationships can also hold us back from fully engaging in relationships with people for whom we may care very deeply. When we want what others have, it speaks more about what is missing in our own lives than what is present in a friend’s life, in truth. Thus, if you feel a prickling of jealousy bubbling up inside of you, perhaps this can be used as a “red flag” to encourage you to do a little self-exploration. Examining that sense of deep longing or acute need that it highlights may bring to light areas in which you may want to change or grow. When you explore those “tender spots” in your responses to others, you can create a blueprint for how you might like to shift your own choices, goals, and path in life.

If the Jealous Streak Doesn’t Go Overboard, It Might Be Kinda Cool

In the case of romantic relationships, having a “jealous partner” can give some people a “charge,” as it makes them feel sexier knowing that their partner might think someone else is attracted to them.

Jealousy As an Aphrodisiac?

Oddly enough, for some people, jealousy is an aphrodisiac, of sorts. It can make you realize how lucky you are to be with the one you have when you see that others might be interested in a relationship with that person themselves. However, when jealousy borders — or crosses into — the need for control and a breakdown of trust, it’s time to directly address the issue and consider the direction your relationship may need to take.

How to Cope When Feelings of Jealousy Take Root

Simply put, jealousy is motivated by fear. When fear is driving your behaviors, it is essential to tune into the cognitive components that accompany the fear. When jealousy kicks into gear, try to figure out what it is that you are fearful of losing . . . a relationship? Status? A sense of control? It can be one of a million different things, depending on who you are and what you value. Unpacking that fear is the key to figuring out where your insecurities reside — which is necessary in determining how best to overcome them. By growing awareness of what you most value in life, you are given the opportunity to pause and reflect on the richness present in your life.

Jealous of Your Partner's Friends?

Or Maybe Afraid It's Now "More Than Friends"?

If you are jealous of the time that a partner invests in other activities or spends with friends or family, consider whether or not the relationship is having difficulties in other areas. If your partner has begun to seem less available than in the past, check in with your partner and share your concerns. If your partner's interests or hobbies are not ones that have interested you in the past, maybe try to develop an interest in order to spend more time with your partner. If you're jealous of time that your partner spends with her friends whom you admittedly don't enjoy being around, talk to your partner about potential solutions.

Jealousy in romantic relationships affects the couple as a unit, not just the jealous partner or the object of her jealousy. Be aware of the potential for harm that feelings of jealousy may generate, and talk about your feelings before things go too far. 

Communicate Before Things Go Too Far

Jealousy and envy, like anger and sadness, are emotions that show up for everyone at some point in their lives. Rather than giving in to the negativity that surrounds them, use these feelings as triggers for self-reflection, and this may lead to greater self-understanding. Sure, it is easier to dissolve into a heap of despair when you feel something you value is being threatened, but there is a lot more to be gained in exploring the fear and insecurity that are being stirred up by the threat. Listen to your fears, as they can shine light on the weaker links in your mindset and emotional stability, but don’t let your fear immobilize you.

If your feelings of jealousy seem to follow something of a pattern, take time to explore what this might be revealing about the areas that you feel your life is ripe for change. Do not sacrifice a relationship because you want something that someone else has; instead, use your reactions to build a life filled with those things that you long for so deeply.

As a counselor, I know that clients are a lot more ready to change their behaviors once they have reached the point where the status quo is no longer as comfortable as it once was. Use this lesson to allow any prickling of jealousy to activate your own inner change process. Let jealousy be a trigger to identify and deconstruct the insecurities that are getting in the way of a happier life, before it guides you to take action in ways that threaten the relationships or roles you most deeply cherish and want to protect.

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