What is Jealousy?

Jealousy is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. It often stems from romantic relationships and can be feelings of unhappiness, anxiety, and anger caused by a belief or fear that your partner may be unfaithful or interested in someone else. Jealousy can also occur when we feel unhappiness and envy caused by wanting what other people have. Jealousy can become problematic when it occurs regularly.

Why Do People Feel Jealous?

There are a number of possible underlying causes and drivers for what causes jealousy to manifest. The most common culprit and driver for jealousy is an underlying sense of insecurity, low self-esteem, and a lack of self-confidence. In many instances, the person struggling with jealousy projects their own doubts and beliefs onto their partner and reacts with jealousy. For example, they may tell themselves, “My wife thinks I’m too short. I’m sure she finds that guy over there more attractive.”

Obsessive thinking can also set the stage for jealousy. Fear and anxiety of the unknown and uncertain can creep in and create fears in relationships. A jealous person may have thoughts such as, “What if my partner finds someone else more attractive and leaves me.” Obsessing about the unknown and perceived fears can serve to create and fuel jealousy.

Moving one step further down the spectrum of anxiety is suspicious or paranoid thinking patterns. Often people who think this way tend to have trust issues and assume other people have malicious intentions. This thinking style often leaves the person feeling jealous and victimized.

One positive spin on jealousy and the driver for it comes from evolutionary psychologists. They believe jealous is not a negative emotion but a warning to be listened to. They propose it is a signal that an important relationship may be in jeopardy and the person feeling jealous needs to take steps to secure and solidify the relationship.

The Impact of Jealousy

Not surprisingly, most of the impact and effects of jealousy tend to be negative. Many people plagued by jealousy find themselves with feelings of bitterness, emotional instability, anxiety, and depression. Driven by insecurity they often present as needy and in constant need of reassurance, which wears on a relationship and can lead to its demise. At a more extreme level, jealousy can drive people to become controlling, distrustful, and even emotionally or physically abusive with others. The mistrustfulness can also fuel the need to check up on one’s partner, monitor calls, texts, and emails. Conflicts inevitably evolve from the unjustified mistrust the partner feels and eventually it erodes the feelings of love and affection that once existed.

How Do You Work on Jealousy?

  1. Resolve the root issues –  If underlying self-esteem issues are driving the jealousy, then it is vital to seek help to shore up these insecurities. If mistrust and jealousy stem from being burned in a previous relationship, then similarly it is important to get help to work through the anger, betrayal, and trust issues.
  2. Talk it through: Healthy and mature relationships have a good foundation of communication. Depending on the circumstances it may make sense to talk with your partner about concerns, observations, boundaries, behaviors or the like. Ideally, some mutual understanding can be achieved, and this may temper the jealousy.
  3. Don’t act on feelings: It’s one thing to feel jealous, it’s another to act on it. Some people are able to contain their feelings of jealousy and not allow it to control their behavior, mood, and thinking. For some people allowing the feeling and moment to pass, allows them to get some objectivity on the situation and examine it and see if there is any rationale for the feelings of jealousy.
  4. Faith in yourself: It is important to trust in yourself. If you are open, engaged, and committed to the relationship, it should help to anchor and solidify things. If the relationship is not destined to work out for whatever reason, what is most important is to have faith in your ability to grieve and work through the loss so that you can heal and move onto another relationship.

If jealousy is having a negative impact on your relationships, feel free to contact IPC so you can schedule a consultation with one of our psychologists or psychiatrists so we can help discuss treatment options. Please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM.  We can sit down with you and complete a thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.

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