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How to Overcome Jealousy in Relationships

A woman who's trying to learn how to overcome jealousy in a relationship on the phone arguing with her boyfriend.

There’s a lot of conversation around whether or not there’s a difference between jealousy and envy. Some experts believe jealousy is the fear of losing something you have, whereas envy is the desire to have something that someone else has. When you are with someone, jealousy and envy are both present at various times throughout the length of the relationship. Envy is that feeling when you see another couple and wish you had what they had. Jealousy is that overwhelming feeling that arises from time to time, setting off your worry alarms, causing you to wonder if you’ll lose what you already have.

It’s frustrating to feel jealous in a relationship. No one wants to feel as if they’re going to lose their partner, especially because of an outside source. Jealousy can arise when your partner starts a new job and begins to know people that you don’t know. The fear of him or her meeting someone who will tickle their fancy more than you do sums up what being jealous is all about. It happens. We all experience it. But there are ways to overcome those feelings.

1. Recognition.
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. And even if your jealousy isn’t as harsh as addiction, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings. Recognizing that you’re experiencing a jealous feeling or feelings is the first step to overcoming it. Once you’re honest with yourself, you’ll be more able to have a conversation with your partner about what is going on in your head.

2. Talk about it.
Discussing your feelings with your partner is one of the best ways to tackle the problem head-on. No one wants to admit they’re jealous, and even after you’ve admitted it to yourself, that next step is just as hard. (Or potentially harder.) Speaking the words “I am jealous” aloud to your partner isn’t high on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, but it is significant. Once you discuss the situation and acknowledge your feelings, you’ll be that much closer to getting to the root of the issue. And you shouldn’t have to do that on your own.

3. Listen to your partner.
If you’ve let your jealousy fester, or even if you haven’t, listening to your partner is a really important step in the process of overcoming jealousy. If you’re angry, let yourself take deep breaths and only have this conversation when you’re ready. If you approach the subject with hostility and resentment, you’re more likely to put your partner on the defensive, which creates a bigger obstacle for solving the jealousy issue. Once your partner tells his or her side of the story, you can allow yourself to reflect. But only after you have listened to them speak.

4. Avoid retribution.
It’s a part of human nature to want to make someone jealous if they have done the same to us. If your partner, regardless of if you are casually dating or in a committed relationship, has made you jealous, giving them a taste of their own medicine is not a functional way to deal with the issue. It may be tempting to want to hurt your partner, or make them feel how you currently feel, but what good does that do? If you want to overcome the issue of jealousy within your relationship, payback is not the answer.

5. Try not to dwell.
In the era of social media, it’s extremely easy to dissect, deep dive, and investigate for hours on end. Are you jealous of your partner’s relationship with his colleague? The worst thing you can do for yourself is to look that person up and dive deep into their history. It’s tempting, maybe the most tempting thing, but try to avoid looking for something that will upset you further.

6. Avoid comparisons.
And if you do end up meeting the person you’re jealous of, or finding them online while scrolling through pages of Instagram pictures, try to avoid comparing yourself to them. Nothing good comes out of trying to decipher if maybe your boyfriend prefers blondes to redheads, or discovering that this person has a Master’s degree and you only ever earned a Bachelor’s. You know what they say, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

7. Give yourself grace.
Even after reading this, you may still find yourself jealous over others’ lives. You may still find yourself questioning your partner’s intentions, and wondering if he or she is falling for someone else. It’s okay to let these thoughts cross your mind, as long as you attempt to overcome them. Thoughts can be fleeting. Speak your mind, work on your self-control, and ultimately, give yourself grace when it comes to figuring out your next step. If you’re jealous because your partner is disrespectful and dismissive and openly flirtatious with other people, allow yourself to be upset, get angry, have the conversation, and then give yourself grace to figure out what your next step is. You deserve it.

Jealousy is tough. It’s a natural, common feeling that no one wants to face. As you begin to feel jealous during different periods of your relationship, it’s important to remember that this problem is surmountable. By talking to your partner, expressing yourself, and resisting temptation you will be able to overcome the jealous feelings. You got this.

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