Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dealing with Jealousy and Possessiveness and Insecurity in Relationships

Jealousy is a very complicated emotion.  Sometimes it is a direct result of a legitimate perception of things that are happening.  For example, I have felt true jealousy a very few times in my life.  Each time, it turned out that I really was being cheated on.  The rest of the time, the perception is likely not real or doesn't have to be.

I understand that the acceptance of jealousy and degrees of jealousy can be culture specific, but I do feel that being jealous is unnecessarily stressful.  As mentioned above, I believe that jealousy can be used as an instinct to tell you when something is being taken away from you.  However, if you're jealous all the time, you will be able to get no clear readings from your own emotions.  If you are habitually jealous with your boyfriend or girlfriend, and you would like to stop being jealous, today is the day.

Jealousy in a relationship usually stems from two basic ideas.  The first is that you think other people will be attracted to your partner.  The second is that you think your partner might go for someone else.  Then you worry about it.  You get yourself upset about it.  You start treating your partner as if they're already cheating on you.  The whole thing is a big mess.  So to start with, you need to accept two important facts.

1. Your partner is attractive.  If you find your partner attractive, chances are other people will, too.  That means that if your partner is walking around in public, with or without you, other people will look at them and be attracted to them.  Accept it.  Live with it.

2. You are not the most attractive person in the world.  Even if you're really attractive, someone else will always come along that is more attractive.  There will always be someone who is smarter, funnier, richer, more romantic, more athletic, better dressed, has a cuter smile, is more charming, and yes, better in the bedroom.  Accept it.  Live with it.

This is difficult for some people to deal with, because they are insecure about not being perfect enough to keep their boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife while that person is walking around looking good and attracting other people.  They become possessive with their partner because they don't want there to be any opportunities for someone to come along and take that person away.  The reality is that those opportunities always exist.  If your partner is unfaithful, the only thing you can do about it is break up and accept that that person was not faithful.  Better luck next time.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  Having been cheated on does not justify treating the next person as if they are a cheater, nor will it stop them from cheating if that's what they want to do.  You cannot be around someone all day, every day so that there will be no opportunities for them to misbehave.  Who would want to have to babysit their partner anyway?  But showing up at their job, calling all the time, interrogating them after a few hours out with their friends, trying to cut them off from friends and family, listening to their phone calls, and other behavior that indicates suspicion is likely to backfire.  That person is likely to leave you for someone who does not treat them like a bad person.

So then how do you keep someone?  You keep someone by treating them the way they like to be treated, which will vary from person to person.  If they're happy, they'll stay with you.  Sometimes the relationship will work out and sometimes it won't.  If it doesn't, you find someone else.  Most people realize, after a little dating experience and maturity, that they don't have to be with the perfect person.  Happy is happy.  If you can make someone happy, they are likely to forego other opportunities of potential happiness for the happiness they already trust in you.  Think of it this way, if you have an appliance that gets the job done, and you walk by the store and see another one that may be better or may not work for poop, why throw away the one you have on a gamble?  You're happy with what you have, right?  If you lose that one somehow, then you can shop for another one.  When you think of it this way, most likely your partner will not trade you in for someone else because they already know you and they're already happy with you.  It is a gamble for them to wager you for someone else that might be better because they have no experience with that person.  Some people are great until you get to know them better.  Some people are great as friends but definitely not in a relationship.  Your partner knows this.  They're with you because they want to be.  If they really want to leave, they will.  You can't stop them anyway so you might as well not worry about it and focus on both of your happiness.

All that said, jealous behavior patterns can be hard to break.  The important thing to remember that jealousy is all about you, so you are in control.  Your partner doesn't make you jealous.  Other people don't make you jealous.  You do.  Once you start letting things go, you come to realize that everything is still fine, even if you're not constantly controlling everything to make sure that it's fine.  Each success helps reinforce that all the worry is unnecessary and you will come to worry less and less.

Does your partner have a friend that ruffles your feathers?  Let it go.  There is a reason why your partner is not with that person, which may or may not be any of your business.  And who's to say that person is better than you?  There is a reason why your partner is with you.  What if your partner loves you?  Just think, in a sea of people, many of whom wanted to be with your partner, they chose you.  They see beautiful people on the street ever day and don't pursue them.  They don't love them.  They wouldn't trade what they have for them.  They love and trust you.  They know that if someone shows interest in you, you will turn that person down.  They do the same.   I'm sure they've said, "Sorry, I'm taken," to more than one person without ever bothering to tell you about it.

Awesome Tip Number Two:  Don't torture yourself by comparing yourself to other people.  Jealous and insecure people tend to both dread being compared and constantly compare themselves to other people, fearing that everyone else is doing the same.  Also, differences tend to be given a value of "better" or "worse" when it doesn't apply or doesn't matter.  "What does that guy have that I don't have?" is a dangerous question.  That other guy inevitably has something that you don't have or that he has more of.  Don't waste your time getting upset about it when it doesn't really matter.  You know what you have that he doesn't?  Your girlfriend.

Your partner's phone just rang.  Don't answer it.  Don't look at the caller ID.  Leave the room if you have to.  If the call is particularly interesting or important, they will probably tell you about it later.  Later could mean now or next week.  If it's not a notable conversation, they won't bother you with it.  Don't ask.  Just let it go.

Does your partner look hot when he or she goes out with friends?  Guess what?  They're supposed to dress up.  That's part of the fun of going out.  People like to look good whether they're single or taken, young or old.  There is no reason to try to deny them that pleasure.  It has nothing to do with trying to attract other people.  You feel good when you look good.  They feel good when they look good.  On top of that, other people probably find them attractive when they don't dress up.  You do.  Tell them how good they look.  Feel good that that sexy person is yours!  They'll be home before long.  Go do your own thing until then.  Let everything else go.

These are just a few examples of healthy ways to look at certain situations.  Every time you start to feel upset, worried, or angry because you're jealous, try and put yourself in your partner's shoes.  Would you want someone to treat you like they don't trust you?  Before you tell yourself that you really do trust them, just not everyone else in the world, stop.  Your partner is smart enough to look after themselves.  If they're not, you need to find someone else who is.  Treating your partner as if they are too stupid to make good decisions without you will likely drive them away from you.

On that note, nobody likes a ball and chain.  Making your partner feel limited is a good way to lose them.  Making them feel free and happy is a good way to make them want to come home to you every time.  You may find that by being less jealous, controlling, and possessive, your partner feels less and less like they want to get away from you, which will make your relationship more secure.  If you do decide to take control of your jealousy, it is a good idea to get support from your partner and your friends.  Tell your partner to be patient with your during this time, and maybe to be considerate about things that might make you jealous.  For example, "I'm trying to stop worrying about when you go out with your friends.  It would really help me if you could call me when you get there and tell me more or less when you're coming home so that I don't sit here wondering and letting my mind get out of control."  They will probably appreciate this.  Your friends can help you by intervening when you exhibit jealous behavior or say things to suggest that your partner is doing something they should not be.  For example, your partner is late and hasn't called.  You start complaining about it.  Your friends can stop that whole train of thought by offering reasonable explanations for why a person would forget to call, or might be having too much fun to realize what time it is, or reminding you that you didn't call last time you went out.

My final thought on the subject is that jealousy is often a learned behavior.  I know that cultures that watch a lot of soap operas tend to be more jealous.  Also, people who do shady things or hang out with sketchy people are often more suspicious of everyone.  If you are doing things you shouldn't, now is a good time to stop.  (Hint: Two of the guys that had cheated on me had been accusing me of cheating.  I wasn't, but that was my first clue that they were.)  If you do hang around with untrustworthy people, now is a good time to start deleting phone numbers.  This may sound harsh, but there are a couple of reasons.  The first is that untrustworthy means that you should not trust them.  If they'll swindle someone else, they may eventually do it to you if they haven't already.  The second is that you are probably not the only one who can see that they lie/cheat/steal.  That is a big red flag to anyone that you're dating.  It's possible that your significant other will be okay with it.  The downside of that is that, most likely, if they are okay with it it's because they are either unobservant or they are more like your friends than you realize.  In which case, that feeling of jealousy is not an irrational emotion, it's an observation.  Get rid of all of them.

Good luck!

22 comments:

  1. You really only addressed that from the perspective of the jealous person, when based on your title I was kind of expecting it to come from person who's significant other is overly insecure/jealous. Is that a topic for another day, or was it avoided because the only answer is to not date insecure/jealous people?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Perhaps it's a poor choice of words. I don't think it's possible to make another person not be jealous/insecure any more than you can control their aggression or make them quit smoking. I think it's something that person would have to deal with of their own free will (if that's what they want). I suppose the article would give some insight as to how the jealous partner might feel and you can definitely forward them the article it you think it would help them learn about something that may be hurting their self-esteem or interpersonal relationships.

    To answer your question, coping with a jealous/insecure partner is another subject for another day. That would take a lot more thought on my part since I would think jealousy/insecurity could be more of a compatibility issue. For now, if it doesn't bother you, don't worry about it. If it does bother you, it should naturally go on your "Do Not Date People With..." list along with any other quality that makes you not enjoy a relationship.

    I'm not saying to avoid dating people like that. I'm saying you should only date people that make you happy and avoid dating people who do not make you happy, whatever that means to you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 'Making them feel free and happy is a good way to make them want to come home to you every time.' - This is very true and great post overall. I love the 'Awesome Tips'. For me to be happy in a relationship, I need to feel free in a relationship. Most men I meet don't seem to understand that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I was more able to relax and not think everyone was out to get me. I've been cheated on twice. It's hard not to get jealous .anyway thanks for your comment I will try and just not think I will be cheated on again. I love my new fiance and don't want to push her out of my life with unnecessary worry

      Delete
    2. My bf loves freedom too, if I took that away Id be dumped pretty fast lol and I'm pregnant lol I have lots of freedom too. I am a jealous person, but I believe there is a differace between jealous and possessiveness, I may feel jealous that he still talks to a fuck buddy who is in love with him but I trust him not to do anything and I just remind my self I trust him and it helps me move past it.

      Delete
  4. Fair enough, thanks a lot. U have explained it in the best possible manner..your words seem like an instant cure to me, thanks a lot..!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. amazing post! i like it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This made me feel more sane... and that my feelings are controllable. I have found my soul mate after a long marriage that ended with my spouse cheating. I am working very hard to leave that relationship behind me and nurture this one. But as we know... sometimes shaking off the olf hurt is easier said than done. Thanks for putting your advice out there. I will definately be using some of your lingo in my self talk. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Osasmama... How did you ever learn to trust again?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, the last two years have been busy for me. Um, courage to get hurt again is probably the real answer. I'm not going to say that I'm not a bit paranoid that people are playing games with me or just dishonest in general, but that is a lot of compiled life experience (aside from relationships) and a general character trait. :)

      I would say that walking into a relationship scenario since my being cheated on days has required me to just accept that I may get hurt. It didn't kill me last time and I have to keep the presense of mind to believe that not all men keep themselves at the standard of the ones that have betrayed me in the past. Ones who do will swear that all men are just like them, but hell, they lied about everything else, why would this be true? Haha. Honestly though, they would like to think that because it would make their sad standard normal. There are some really good people out there and I wouldn't mind meeting them.

      Delete
  8. Just lost my gf because I could not let go of old issues. She is still the woman I would marry tomorrow if I could, so I sincerely hope I can get myself sorted first and then I pray for another chance. I know breakups are never just about one partner, but my insecurities and jealousy was the biggest issue to her. I tried to "own" her, when she just wanted to be loved and trusted. She had come out of a 20 year marriage where she was controlled, so my actions just triggered a lot of her own fears from past experience.

    Thank you for this article, you could have been writing about my actions, and I now (perhaps to late) realize that I need to resolve my own issues before I will ever be able to have a good relationship.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations on learning something about yourself. I wish you well on your recovery.

      Delete
    2. I am in the same boat as you but I am the female and it was my partner who was in a controlling marriage and he just wanted to be loved and trusted. Deep down, I knew he would never cheat on me. My suspicions drove him away and me insane despite him saying he was committed to me. I wish there was a switch to turn these feelings off. I suggested seeing a couples counsellor but he said no. Perhaps he was just past thinking I could trust him :-(

      Delete
  9. I'm currently in a long distance relationship with 6 months to go before we meet irl again. The last 6 months have been good, (we met again 3 months ago) but I can feel myself losing my grip on my security. I'm currently in the process of reminding myself that it doesn't matter what I do; if she wants to be with me she will, if she doesn't she won't, and there's not much I can do about it other than be the best person I can be. Your article helped a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Hang in there. It gets easier.

      Delete
    2. I like your comment a lot! Being the best person you can is definitely the best method !! You will not be the bad guy that way if things do go bad!! That's how I do my relationships. If I feel insecure i give a little more. cause If i feel that way, maybe they do too.

      Delete
  10. This article is so amazing, seems like a God-sent cure for me. I am going to read it again and again to keep reminding myself that i don't have to suffocate my partner with my insecurity and jealousy.
    But i have a query-> My partner and i have been together for around 8 years, and she broke my trust a couple of times ( NO!! she did NOT cheat, just got really impressed with a couple of guys. I guess its wrong to call it "breaking my TRUST"). Those 2 cases still linger on my mind even though i keep promising myself to forget them and never think about them again. But its not that easy. Some motivation?
    P.S: my partner is the most attractive,gorgeous,sweet,innocent girl i have ever seen (and i am not saying this because she's my girl, i mean it)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Excellent blog...Loved it!!Good job :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. THANK YOU for making me feel a lot better!! I am a possesive and clingy girlfriend! After reading your blog I realized that.. "There is a reason why your partner is not with that person, which may or may not be any of your business. And who's to say that person is better than you? There is a reason why your partner is with you".

    THANK YOU.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Searching for the Ultimate Dating Website? Create an account and find your perfect match.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (even if they're dating somebody else now) you have to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Why your ex will NEVER come back...

    ReplyDelete