Susie and Otto Collins break down one of the most toxic things to your sex life and relationship
There’s a pervasive lie that causes big problems for men in their relationships. This lie isn’t often spoken out loud, but it’s clearly understood and is often responsible for the tension, fighting and dismal quality of sex (when and if it happens).
That lie is about the “J” word.
The “J” word is jealousy (if you haven’t already guessed it) and the lie is that jealousy is a “woman’s problem.” Sure, men get jealous, but the belief underlying most of our assumptions about relationships is that men are not the ones who get jealous.
Think about the stereotype of a jealous lover. What image come to mind?
Someone who interrogates, accuses, spies, stalks Facebook pages, sneaks to check his/her phone and frequently erupts in jealous meltdowns. Often, that “someone” is stereotypically a woman.
We all know how damaging (and wrong) stereotypes can be and this is just another example.
Yes, women do get jealous and sometimes even act in the ways described above. And yes, of course, men do too. Because of all of the other dominant stereotypes about masculinity and being a man, very few guys want to admit it—to themselves or to anyone else—that they feel jealous.
This resistance to talking about jealousy is part of what keeps men tense and shut down, and those qualities can contribute in a negative way to their relationship. This resistance to admitting that they’re jealous leads many men to pretend that they just don’t care, or even worse, they become controlling and possibly even abusive.
And this resistance also fuels jealousy itself, while also inciting suspicion, fear and insecurity. To deny jealousy when it’s there only makes jealousy stronger and more dangerous.
Jealousy—particularly unacknowledged jealousy—can take a serious toll on your relationship. Communication becomes tense, forced or breaks down into frequent misunderstandings and arguments about “nothing.” Jealousy also negatively affects the bedroom. In order for sex to be healthy, connecting and to feel good, you’ve got to have intimacy and openness. Intimacy, in particular, requires trust and trust is one thing that’s seriously damaged by jealousy.
If you want to have amazing sex with your partner, you’ve got to trust your partner (and vice-versa) and you can’t do that when jealousy takes over.
These 3 steps will take you out of jealousy and back to enjoying your relationship again…
Step 1: Own it.
The really tricky thing about jealousy is that you might not even know that what you’re feeling is jealousy. If you believe the gender stereotype that jealousy is a “woman’s problem,” your resistance may be hiding the truth and keeping you miserable.
If you’re feeling jealous, own it! Slow down and take a second look at your own thoughts and feelings when you’re doing things such as:
- Questioning your partner intensely.
- Spying or checking her/his phone without permission.
- Telling your partner who s/he can and cannot spend time with.
- Getting angry when the situation isn’t a big deal.
Whenever you feel worried, anxious, irritated, or like something just isn’t right, pause and consider what’s really going on.
Step 2: Interrupt it.
The quicker you recognize (and take ownership for) jealousy, the easier it is take care of and move past it. This means noticing when you’re feeling jealous and then interrupting whatever thoughts are running through your mind, whatever words are coming out of your mouth or whatever things you’re about to do that will cause trouble in your relationship.
Pause and interrupt.
Jealousy can make you think that you’re powerless, if you let it take over. But when you notice what’s going on and what’s driving you and then you prevent the reaction from taking place, you’re taking back your power, not relinquishing it.
The important thing is to give yourself space to make a conscious choice.
Step 3: Fact-check it.
In that space, you can calm down and figure out the facts. The best way to move past jealousy is to remind yourself of what’s actually true. The mind can make up some HUGE stories that seem very real in the moment and that cause you to say and do things you later regret.
But stories can be questioned. What’s actually true can be unearthed and, depending on what you discover, you can then decide what is appropriate and what you will do.
So remember, jealousy is not just a “woman’s problem,” it’s a human challenge, one that can be overcome.
image credit: Flickr/Ed Yourdon