So you’re struggling with overcoming jealousy. Maybe you’re jealousy has been triggered by your partner’s past infidelity, their ongoing relationship with their ex or even their flirting with other members of the opposite sex. Whatever the reasons, the appearance of the big, green-eyed monster (that’s jealousy, not your partner’s ex) is unpleasant to say the least.
But how can overcoming jealousy in your relationship be made easy when it generates such overwhelming feelings of envy and resentment?
The 6 Steps to Overcoming Jealousy
1. A rule has been broken
We all have rules about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. In order to feel the resentment and anger that you do it means that someone (probably your partner) has broken one of your rules.
If your rule is ‘that it’s not acceptable for you or your partner to flirt with members of the opposite sex’ (as it’s showing sexual interest), then if you’re partner breaks this rule, you are likely to feel angry, hurt, resentful, envious and more.
At this stage, all you need to do is recognize that
a) you have a rule that’s been broken, and
b) understand what that specific rule of yours is.
(Think about what that rule is now, before you read on. Take a couple of minutes, a pad of paper and pen and write it down.)
2. Are you exaggerating the situation?
I know this is a challenging question to ask – and your initial reaction is probably defensive – “of course not”. And you may be right. But it’s important to go back, and as neutrally as possible, examine the FACTS of what triggered this jealousy.
It’s easy to make 1+1 equal 5, particularly when one of your rules is involved. And the more exaggerated a situation is in your mind, the more upsetting it is for you.
For example, what does the fact that your partner has met with their ex 3 times in the last month mean? You didn’t know about the meetings up front. Your partner does not say much about what went on when they met. They MUST be having an affair!
Well, the facts are they met 3 times, you didn’t know about the meetings and your partner doesn’t say much about them. Everything else is in your mind. You’ve taken those facts and strung them together to make a story.
Could it be that their ex is in financially difficulty and doesn’t know who else to turn to? Could your partner not be saying much about the meetings because he knows you’re likely to get jealous? Of course. Hundreds of explanations are possible. The truth is, you don’t know which is true.
Obviously, if your partner has a track record of infidelity then you may be more justified in questioning their motives, but the facts and the story are still two different things.
Sometimes it’s enough to review and separate the facts in your mind from the exaggerations and embellishments you’ve made. If you regularly experience jealousy you can now use it more positively. It can become a trigger to analyze the facts and understand whether they’re justified or not. If you analyze it consciously and regularly find yourself exaggerating you’ll be training your brain to recognize your feelings of jealousy are unfounded and they’ll subside much more quickly in the future.
3. Change your own rule
Your rules are not set in stone. It is possible to change them if you decide they are not serving you well.
Sometimes, you may not even be able to remember why you created this rule in the first place, which makes it even easier to change it now, or let it go altogether.
The alternative to changing your own rule is the next step below – to share your rule with your partner. The upshot is that they may be able to modify their behavior. However it’s much easier and more likely to lead to your and your partner’s happiness if you change your own rule. Also, if your rule is a tough one to meet for your partner you’re setting your partner up to fail and both of you up for pain when they do.
So take the specific situation you’re dealing with, the specific rule of yours that you’ve identified is being broken, and ask yourself, ‘What are some changes I could make to this rule that will still protect me, but not generate feelings of jealousy when my partner behaves in this way?’
Generate a few options and pick the best. In changing your rule you may even find that you can let it go completely.
4. Does your partner know about your rule?
If not, how can you expect them to do anything different from their natural behavior? It’s perfectly possible for you to be insanely jealous of your partner’s actions and yet they’re completely oblivious to the feelings you get about it.
For some behaviors your partner will be able to say, ‘No problem – I can change that easily’. Problem solved.
However, bear in mind that it may not be as easy as they think. For a start, every time they transgress the rule, you feel pain. They’ve been oblivious in the past, and it’s just as likely they’ll be oblivious in the future, and keep transgressing your rule. Most times they’re not being insensitive, they’re just not conscious of their behavior.
Sometimes, when you share your rule with your partner it won’t be easy for them to change. Indeed, they may not want to change. If they are a naturally touchy-feely person, and they know it doesn’t mean anything when they consistently touch other people’s arms, then why should they change? (You can substitute your own partner’s behaviour there.)
So by all means share your rule with your partner, but just don’t expect miracles and don’t blame them if the change doesn’t occur. Like I said, changing your own rule is more likely to lead to success.
5. Is dealing with jealousy a repeating pattern for you?
Have you experienced this same problem with other partners in your past? Or other situations?
Have you tried overcoming jealousy before, yet never seem to be able to rid yourself of it?
If you have followed the steps above and you still cannot rid yourself of these feelings of jealousy, envy or anger then you may need to get some outside assistance. The more emotionally charged a problem is in your life, the more difficult it can be to deal with on your own. If you are repeatedly experiencing these problems of dealing with jealousy and you are ready to get rid of them, book up a coaching session now.
6. Is it an irreconcilable problem?
How big a problem is this for you? Rather significant I’m guessing seeing as you’re seeking help. For some couples, jealousy can split them apart. Sometimes, that’s the only sensible solution.
The key to a great relationship is compatibility. If you aren’t compatible as a couple, your relationship is going to always be a place of pain for either or both of you. Compatibility works at many levels. This includes the level of rules and behaviours. If your partner behaves (or has behaved) in a particular way that drives you nuts, this is a serious compatibility issue.
If you’ve been through the steps above, if you’ve made the rule changes, if your partner has tried to change their behaviour and you’ve sought outside assistance and it’s still not working, then you have to ask yourself this question.
“If I knew my partner wasn’t going to change, would I be happy to be with them for the next 40 years?”
Sometimes, overcoming jealousy is as easy as making your partner aware of your rule or tweaking your own rule to something more useful. I’m hoping that you can deal with this issue with steps 2, 3 and 4 alone. If you can’t deal with it there, only you can decide whether to stay with them or whether leaving is the best solution.
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