Everyone experiences pangs of jealousy at some time but irrational jealousy is usually indicative of intense problems and often originates from personal, deep-rooted insecurity. Perhaps you can’t believe your partner would ever want to stay with you or you think so highly of your partner you believe he can have his pick of anyone, leaving you constantly vulnerable.
Such feelings can lead to you becoming unreasonably suspicious and drive you to become either an angry control freak or a clingy, helpless victim.
Your past experiences can play their part too. If you have been with an unfaithful partner or find it hard to replace a long term lover you may suffer greater feelings of possessiveness.
One woman I know madly criticizes Jennifer Lopez to her partner because he once declared the actress was beautiful. A long time married couple are in a relationship mess because he won’t allow his wife any male friends and tells her how to dress, for fear she might be sending out the wrong signals. But how can feelings of jealousy best be dealt with?
Writer Susan Quilliam says, “If you have never been jealous before but your partner has a track record of playing around, perhaps there’s a very good reason why you’re feeling anxious. If this is the case, make a clear statement that you will not tolerate his two-timing – and if he tries anything, simply walk away”.
If you’re always jealous, she suggests five key strategies to help you cope:
Try to tough it out. Ignore the feelings and if you can keep a rein on your emotions in time you will grow more secure and therefore less jealous.
Build up your self-esteem. If jealousy is based upon the belief that you are not worthy of your partner, become aware of your strengths and ask those who care to tell you what they value in you. (Beware of continually asking your man the “Do you still love me?” since neediness might drive him away in the end).
Challenge your jealousy. Underpinning most jealousy is a misunderstanding of the situation. Take a cold, hard look at what is happening – maybe even get a friend to give you their opinion.
Share your fears clearly. If you tell a caring, sensitive partner how bad you feel, he will be able to reassure you.
Step into your partner’s shoes. Try to imagine yourself on the receiving end of some of your own behaviour – how would you feel if faced with the continual questioning, suspicion or worry.
Erica Jong summed up the irrational feeling of jealousy best when she said: “Jealousy is all the fun you think they had”.