“ O, beware, my lord of jealousy! It is the green eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” — Shakespeare, Othello
Imagine you’re at a party. You see your wife or girlfriend across the room, laughing with another man while you’re left to stew over by the nachos. Jealousy immediately starts eating you up inside, making your guts clench and your blood boil. What’s he got that you haven’t got? Oh yeah, those muscles, that hair, those eyes. How can you compete with that? No wonder she’s interested in him—they’re probably making plans to meet later, behind your back. How could she do this to you?
All that pain is inflicted on you in a split second. And you’ve got absolutely no proof that any of it is true.
Everyone feels jealous sometimes—it’s part of being in love, right? But it’s not supposed to be that way. Jealousy is more than just one emotion—it’s the whole gamut of negative emotions all rolled into one. Anger, fear, hurt, betrayal, anxiety and inadequacy all mixed together into a huge lump of pain.
When you come right down to it, jealousy is all about fear. Fear of losing the one you love, fear of not being good enough, fear of having to start all over again, fear of being disposable. Jealousy is a mirror that reflects back your own insecurities, your feelings of worthlessness, and your feelings of not being good enough.
While jealousy is eating you up inside and turning you against your romantic partner, the very person you’re desperately afraid of losing, you’re missing the big picture—you don’t feel good enough about yourself to be secure. If you were really secure in your relationship, it wouldn’t matter if your girlfriend was hanging out with Arnold Schwarzenegger—you’d know she loved you and no guy could steal her away from you.
But when jealousy rears its ugly head, it means your primitive brain has kicked into “flight or fight” mode—it feels like your very survival is under attack. The next time this happens, step back and ask yourself “what am I really afraid of?” Are you really afraid that your girlfriend is going to leave you or are you simply feeling bad about yourself? Maybe you’ve gained a bit of a gut or you’ve started to lose your hair. That’s what’s really bothering you. If you felt terrific about yourself, you’d realize that those other guys can’t hold a candle to you—and you wouldn’t feel jealous.
Until you genuinely feel confident and self-assured, there is no easy solution to jealousy. It’s going to take trial and error to figure out what sets you off, and unfortunately, this means you’re going to have to feel jealous several times before you can dig down and figure out all of your insecurities. You will need to pinpoint exactly what kinds of situations make you feel bad about yourself—and then work on those areas to boost yourself up in your own mind.
Don’t blame your partner for your feelings of jealousy. She didn’t make you feel inadequate, you did. Of course you will need to talk to your girlfriend or wife and tell her how you feel when you’re jealous. Ask her—not demand—to refrain from doing things intentionally to make you jealous, say flirting with big, muscular guys if you’re on the small side. If she keeps doing this behavior, you have a whole other issue on your hands—either she is trying to hurt you on purpose or she just doesn’t care about your feelings after all. If this is the case, you might need to move on and find a partner who respects your feelings and isn’t out to upset you.
The best way to prevent jealousy is by having a good relationship. Being able to talk openly about issues, without attacking your partner verbally, is important. For example, if you see your girlfriend flirting at a party, tell her that it makes you feel insecure and anxious. Tell her that you’re afraid of losing her, instead of jumping down her throat and accusing her of cheating. This way, she can be sympathetic towards you and understand what you’re feeling, instead of getting put on the defensive.
There’s one important thing to remember—feelings of jealousy do not prove “true love”. In fact, because jealousy reflects your desperation and your insecurity, jealousy is actually self-centered, the exact opposite of true love. Ask yourself this—have you been jealous in every relationship, or just a few?
If jealousy isn’t normal for you, then it shows that something is missing in this particular relationship. It’s up to you to do some investigating to figure out what the problem is here—what aren’t you getting from this relationship that’s making your feel jealous? Maybe it’s as simple as wanting to be seen as a couple while you’re out socializing. So ask your girlfriend to spend some one-on-one time with you at the start and end of a party, to reinforce your commitment to each other.
As one of the leading causes of domestic violence and murder worldwide, jealousy is serious business and must be dealt with. It is not fun. It is not harmless. Even in its mildest form, jealousy causes anger and frustration, which, over time, can destroy an otherwise positive relationship. Jealousy isn’t love—it’s simply your insecurities and fears getting twisted and tangled up with your partner’s actions, causing you to lose trust in her, making you question everything she does and accusing her of doing something wrong, even when she hasn’t.
If you can’t work through your jealousy on your own, seek professional help. Talk to a counselor alone, or as a couple, and figure out a way to heal the insecurities that are poisoning your relationship. With counseling, you may decide that this relationship can’t survive and you have to start over with someone new. Or maybe you’ll be that much closer to building a genuine relationship based on trust and true love with your current partner. Either way, you’ll be a much happier person when you don’t have jealousy tying your guts up in knots.