Jorge's relationship advice is based on experience and observation. Let his trial and error be your success (hopefully).
Is Jealousy Normal?
Imagine that your partner was talking and laughing with someone attractive. Would that make you feel insecure? What if they were actually flirting a bit? Would your blood start to boil?
You’re certainly not alone if you’re the type who gets jealous, even if you know your partner won’t cheat. Getting jealous when you’re in love is so common that society basically views this as “normal.” Your paranoia gets a free pass because you’re romantically involved.
A Different Perspective
Imagine instead that there was no romance, though. What if it was your best friend instead who was talking to someone else? What if they mentioned that they were also friends with this other person and that they were going to go eat lunch with them.
Would you get upset about it and feel betrayed that your friend liked other people, too?
Would you worry that your best friend was going to replace you with a new best friend? Would you look through your best friend’s phone while they were in the shower, searching for evidence that they have another best friend that they haven’t told you about?
Chances are that you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t bat an eyelash, probably. In fact, if you did get upset about it, your friend (and everyone else) would probably think that you were weird and possessive. However, if you do this with a romantic partner, people won’t think you’re weird at all and they’ll actually expect it!
Just because something is common and expected, though, doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. If you get paranoid and upset about your partner’s interactions with other people, then this will inevitably create problems in the relationship sooner or later. Worst of all, it can take a huge toll on your self-esteem and peace of mind. You’ll drive yourself crazy with uncertainty.
A lot of people live with this looming issue of “Can I trust him / her?” throughout their relationship. Oftentimes, it doesn’t even matter what partner they’re with or how trustworthy they really are. If this sounds like you, and you’re tired of hearing your blood pounding in your ears while you quickly look through your partner’s Facebook messages before they get back from the store, then there is a way out of this mindset.
You don’t have to be paranoid and you don’t have to treat your partner like a criminal. To get over your jealousy, you’ll have to do a bit of introspection first, though:
Is it You or is it Them?
First, let’s identify the root issue. Are you really crazy and paranoid or is your partner really cheating after all? If your partner is a lying, cheating sack of turds, then maybe you are justified in feeling paranoid.
Have you found any real evidence that your partner is two-timing you? Has your partner been distant lately or been showing other signs that they’re playing “hide the salami” with someone else behind your back? If not, and you simply feel paranoid about the possibility, or you get upset if your partner merely talks to someone else in a friendly or flirtatious way, then the problem is probably in your mind.
Do You Trust Your Partner?
Well, do you? Do you trust your partner? Yes or no?
If you genuinely think that they don’t deserve your trust—like, for example, you have caught them in a major lie before—then why are you with them? Don’t you think you deserve something better than that? People lie and cheat because they’re immature, and chances are that these aren’t the only negative traits that they’re bringing into the relationship because of their immaturity.
So if you really do suspect that your partner is cheating—or if they have cheated before—confront them. If you find that you can’t trust them, end the relationship. Having a relationship with someone who makes you paranoid with their shady behavior is a waste of time. You only have so many years in this world, so spend that time with someone who will treat you well.
When the Problem Lies With You
Now, maybe you were hurt in the past and you are jealous even though your partner is completely trustworthy. Maybe you were raised by parents that behaved in a very possessive way with each other, so you grew up thinking that love had to equal a suffocating attachment. Maybe it just bothers you way too much when your partner finds someone else attractive.
The bottom line is that many times people get jealous because they have unrealistic expectations about human relationships. In that case, it’s time to consider a few things:
#1: It’s Normal For Your Partner to Find Other People Attractive
Lots of people—especially young people—seem to be under the impression that if you’re in love with someone, then no other people will ever seem attractive to you. It’s not “true love” if you can be seduced by another’s charms, right?
With the crazy brain chemicals that are released when you initially fall in love, this might be true. Temporarily, you and your partner may only have eyes for each other. After things calm down a bit and you’re less addicted to each other, though, of course you will find other people attractive!
Human beings are wired to find more than one person attractive. If you think about it, this makes total sense because nature wants you to make as many babies as possible, so naturally you will feel an impulse to fool around with many different people. As humans, we have self-control, though, and we can stay loyal to one partner in spite of these impulses.
My point is that if you expect your partner to not be attracted to others at all, then your expectations are not in line with reality. Your expectations are closer to the plot of a Disney fairy tale. In real life, humans are sometimes strongly attracted to random people, even when madly in love with a long-term partner. As long as your boyfriend / girlfriend is loyal to you, this is just something you will have to accept.
The good news is that just because they’re attracted to someone else, doesn’t mean they love you any less. For a lot of people, this is the root of their paranoia: They think that love is a zero-sum game and that if their partner likes someone else, then their relationship is a sham. This isn’t true at all. In fact, it would be weird if your partner didn’t sometimes like other people. If they tell you that they don’t, then they’re probably lying to spare your feelings.
Assuming your partner doesn’t act on their attraction to others, this really doesn’t need to be a problem.
#2: The Problem is Your Self-Esteem
More often than not, very jealous and possessive people have self-esteem issues. You may say, “Oh no! That’s not me. I esteem myself more than anyone!” but if you’re constantly afraid that your partner will leave you for someone else, you probably don’t see yourself as much of a catch deep down inside.
This is really hard to admit sometimes. It’s embarrassing to say, “Yeah, I don’t really think I’m so great that my partner will stick around.” It might not even be true—but many times, this is what your subconscious is whispering to you when you have a bout of jealousy.
Your mind is saying, “I am not enough.” After all, if you were, would you really need to fight for your partner’s loyalty? Would you really need to waste your time getting paranoid that they may leave you or being bothered when someone talks to them?
#3: You Do Not Own Your Partner
A lot of people get angry when a random person flirts with their partner. Why is this? Well, it’s a similar anger that people get when someone barges into their house. Do you feel that your partner is “yours” and that when someone gets fresh with them that this person is encroaching on property that you “claimed” for yourself? Does it seem like a personal insult to you because your partner belongs to you?
Well, I have news for you: Your partner is not your property and does not belong to you. They are a separate human being with a separate life, no matter how much you may wish that the both of you could merge together and become one. That’s just not how life works.
Sometimes, your partner may make a stupid decision. They might cheat on you or leave you. That’s on them—it’s entirely their choice. You are similarly free to dump them in response. However, you should never expect to control or restrict their behavior as if they are a piece of you. By all means, make it clear what you’re willing or not willing to tolerate in a relationship, but otherwise leave them alone.
Getting Over Your Possessiveness
After you’ve considered everything above, the next step is to look within. What it all comes down to is this: You feel that your partner must behave a certain way for you to be happy. If your partner doesn’t show that they value you above everyone else, then you’re liable to feel upset, even devastated. You simply must be their #1 or you will be unhappy with every sign of a threat to your status in their life.
This is unfair on your partner. Only you can be responsible for your own happiness. Jealousy isn’t just a problem in and of itself, it’s a sign of deeper problems. It’s a sign that you are making your partner the center of your life and basing your happiness on your relationship. This is a huge mistake.
Here is how you can go about fixing the basic root of the problem:
Step 1: Find Yourself. Who Are You, Really?
Most of us have no clue who we are. When the center of yourself and your happiness is found in your relationship, then the real you is well-hidden. However, you can never escape your true self.
Think back to before you were in the relationship—what was it that fascinated you? What in this world makes you feel truly alive? What have you always been passionate about since you were a child?
The answer will give you some clues about who you really are and what your path might be—with or without your partner. At the very least, it may redirect your thinking and get you to stop obsessing for long enough to have a bit of perspective on the situation.
Step 2: Be Alone For Awhile.
This doesn’t mean you need to break up with your partner, just spend some time alone. You’ll be fine. Go on vacation alone for a few weeks. Go camping alone. Go stay at a friend’s house for awhile. Just stop suffocating yourself in the relationship for a little bit.
If you can’t do this and you can’t imagine being apart from your partner for more than a couple of days, then this is a problem. When you can’t live without something external (besides food and water and other necessities, obviously), this is called an addiction. If you can’t live with just yourself and you must have your partner around—you don’t just miss them (which is normal), you need them or you go crazy without them—then you have an unhealthy attachment to them.
This addiction to your partner is not love. Love is not needy.
Step 3: Find Something Fulfilling to Do
If you’re so attached to a relationship that you’re irrationally jealous, the first thing you need to do is find another focus in your life. After you’ve given yourself some space to discover yourself, find something that you really like that can take up a large portion of your time. Find a mission in life that will drive you.
It might sound weird and unrelated, but sometimes the deep core of dysfunctional emotions like jealousy is actually a lack of fulfillment in your life. If you don’t feel fulfilled, you may seek out fulfillment in dysfunctional ways, such as by trying to find it through a relationship with another person or other, less socially-acceptable addictions.
Everything in your life is connected, and where you lack in one area will often bleed into another area. Take a hard look at yourself and think about what you really wish you were doing with your life. Is there some dream or fulfilling path that you’re ignoring for the sake of a comfortable life or social obligation? Are you trying to cover up the pain of not living a fulfilling life by being in a relationship? Are you trying to distract yourself with the comforts and pleasures of being with a partner?
When we can’t muster up the courage to go after what we really want in life, often we end up with unhealthy attachments like a relationship that we guard like a rabid dog. Instead of turning outward and trying to bite the head off anyone who threatens your relationship, turn inward and try to figure out what will really give you a sense of fulfillment.
Step 4: Look at All Your Relationships
Chances are, if you’re possessive and feel insecure, it’s not just in your romantic relationships. Take a long look at the relationships that you have with your friends and your family. Do you feel a pang of jealousy when one of your friends outshines you? Do you feel a bit slighted when your mother recognizes your brother or sister’s accomplishments before your own?
Insecurity can bleed into many other relationships, so make sure that you recognize these patterns and put a stop to them if you can. You may hate your friend a little bit for being more accomplished than you, but the truth is that there’s nothing to hate about them—there is just a deep insecurity in you that you’re not addressing.
These insecurities are not uncommon, by the way. Lots of people feel jealous of their friends. It’s perfectly normal in a lot of ways. This doesn’t mean that it’s healthy, though. The last thing you want to do is look at the people around you for cues on what’s normal or not, because so many people have dysfunctional relationships in their lives.
Step 5: Do Something for Yourself
Finally, focus on yourself and do something only for you. This doesn’t mean eating a tub of ice cream while watching your favorite show—you’ll want to do something that goes beyond a petty pleasure like this.
Is there some kind of decision in your life that you’ve been delaying because you’re afraid of what other people think? Is there anything you really want that you haven’t been able to do because you fear that it will threaten your relationship?
Bite the bullet and give it a go. Make a decision that is for yourself and that will improve you as a person. Improving yourself not only makes your life better, it will make your relationship better, too. After all, a relationship is only as good as the two people in it.
Conclusions...and How Jealousy Will Seem Silly to You in the End
All right, so we’ve rambled on long enough. You know what you need to do: Realize that your jealousy is a sign of lack in your life, and that this lack can never be filled by a partner. You must instead turn inward and figure out what you really want.
One day, not too long from now, you’ll be able to look back on those petty feelings of jealousy that you had and laugh at how ridiculous they were. When you are secure in yourself and have a fulfilling mission in your life, nothing can threaten you—and especially not something has silly as some random person trying to talk up your partner.
Poll: The Trust Factor
Poll: The Triggers of Your Jealousy
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Jorge Vamos