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How to Deal With Jealousy

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

Advice on Jealousy, Relationships and How to Build More Self Confidence, from Becca & Cat

Jealousy Doesn't Have to be a Negative Emotion

Jealousy is one of the most natural emotions, but it can be dealt with in a variety of healthy and unhealthy ways. You don't have to let your jealousy take over your life or relationship, but you also don't need to suppress it and ignore it, it's all about balance and self-reflection. We've answered some more questions about jealousy and if you'd like to see us discuss it in-depth, watch our YouTube Livestream about jealousy and cheating, click here.

Q: Why do we let boys get away with jealousy and being possessive when girls are labelled 'clingy' for the same behaviour?

B: Ooh, I just love this question! I think the answer is because we tell boys and men that they need to be possessive and aggressive in defending "their" partner because that is what it means to be truly "manly". That goes double if it seems like another man is interested in her - because we low-key view women as property. It's the same reason that often the only way to get men we aren't interested in to leave us alone is to claim that we have a boyfriend! They respect that we "belong" to someone else more than they respect our lack of interest. On the other hand, we are socialised to believe that women are emotional, irrational and that they exaggerate - as if having emotions were a negative thing.

There are stereotypes among men regarding girlfriends etc as nagging, fun-spoilers who don't let their partners do any kind of activities with their friends anymore, and men are often made fun of for this. This is the basis of the things that we view as "clingy" behaviour, and they are usually behaviours that are either normal (like wanting to spend more time together as a couple), or things that could be improved if the couple were able to sit down and discuss what makes them feel secure and happy in a relationship. At the end of the day, the answer, as it is to many things is sexism. Hopefully, our double standards regarding these views are changing.

Q: How to deal with your partner being friends with someone he has hooked up with before?

C: Being friends with an ex or someone you've hooked up with is easier for some than others. Some people are able to get over their past romantic or sexual feelings towards them and move them clearly into being a friend, but not all of us are able to cross those boundaries. Your partner may be better at doing that than you could, and then it will be really challenging for you to see them being friends, as it would mean something different for you.

It really depends on each person. If your partner has made it very clear that they are just a friend and they don't do anything that makes you think that they're not being truthful, then it's something you might just have to process. It might be a sign that their feelings for this ex-partner were not very strong, to begin with, so they are able to see them just as a friend more easily, but for some people, their friendship is so much deeper than their sexual connection and they work to keep that.

It all comes down to trust. Try to analyse how you feel. When you feel jealous of their friendship, is it because you feel they're hiding something, or they're acting extra affectionate towards each other, or is it just because you know that they used to hook up. Being in a relationship is hard, especially when we have challenges like this, but you have to try to trust yourself and your partner and remember that your partner chooses to be with you, not them.

Q: Why do I still get super aggressive and jealous when I know my girl is the most loyal person on the planet?

B: Jealousy often has nothing to do with our partner, but rather it's a sign of insecurity, anxiety, and low self-esteem within ourselves. When you feel jealous, what do you generally feel jealous about? Once you identify those things, you can usually identify what insecurities you have that are causing them. Are you jealous when your girl talks to other friends that you worry might be romantically interested in her? Then ask yourself why you feel like you aren't enough for her, and walk through the logical steps to demonstrate to yourself why that clearly isn't true. Rewrite the narrative that has been making you jealous, and focus on positive self-talk - it won't happen overnight, but over time you absolutely can help yourself reduce these feelings of inadequacy. One thing that did concern me about your question though was your claim that you get "super aggressive". You don't say if you mean verbally, or physically, but while feelings of jealousy are normal and a part of relationships, aggressiveness is not. I hope that you're not taking this aggression out on anybody, and I definitely recommend speaking to a professional counsellor if you are experiencing this regularly.

Q: How does one handle a new relationship after you've been cheated on in a previous one?

B: This can be so difficult because, after such a large break in trust, you're likely to be on high alert for any signs that something is amiss, especially if you feel that you missed those signs the last time. I think it's important to keep your new partner informed about how you are feeling and why, while making sure that your past relationship doesn't end up destroying your new one as well. Seek reassurance and practice openness with your new partner. Let them know what things feel stressful for you, or cause you anxiety, and work out together how you can best alleviate those worries. If you find yourself wanting to restrict your partner unfairly (for example: not wanting him to see friends, hang out with members of the opposite sex, checking your partner's phone) then perhaps it would be best to see a therapist to work through these issues with, or even reassess whether you're quite ready to be in a relationship again - sometimes we need more time to heal than we realise, and that's okay.

Q: How does a person act when cheating?

C: Unfortunately it's almost impossible to tell for sure if someone is lying to you, so all you can do is try to be upfront with your partner if you are feeling like something is going on. If you know your partner very well and they start acting differently and hiding things from you, it doesn't mean they're cheating, but it is absolutely worth having an honest conversation about how their actions are making you feel and trying to give them space, to be honest about what's going on with them. Also remember, that we don't all have the same definition of what cheating is, so make sure to be clear about what you're ok and not okay with, and don't assume your partner has the same idea as you. All we can do is try to create the honest, open relationship that we deserve and if your partner is unable, to be honest with you, then it might be time to move on.

Reducing feelings of jealousy in a relationship is a combination of a lot of self-love, self-growth, trust and knowing that you are lovable and no matter how others have treated you in the past, not everyone will hurt you, and the right person/people will love you as you deserve.

Q: How do I get over general feelings of jealousy in my relationship?

B: I think that the first step when we discuss the feeling that is jealousy is to stop viewing it as something inherently negative. Jealousy is a completely normal part of life and relationships. The best way to deal with jealousy is to honour the emotion the way you would any other - allow yourself space and permission to feel jealous. Next, you should ask yourself what it is that you feel jealous about. Afterwards, reframe these feelings as a need. E.g.: "I feel jealous of my partner's friends" becomes "I feel like I am not enough for my partner, I need reassurance and to feel valued". Once you realise what need is creating the jealousy, you can figure out some ways (both with and without your partner) to get those needs met. Jealousy almost always stems from anxiety, self-esteem issues, or feelings of inadequacy - but you are in charge of those things, so they are within your power to change!

C: I always struggled with jealousy, and it definitely stemmed from feeling unattractive and undesirable, plus bad experiences with relationships and dating led me to believe that everyone would eventually find someone better. That became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I really started to self-sabotage myself and my relationships in one way or another. Sometimes I would jump to conclusions or use jealousy to manipulate some kind of reaction. Eventually, I realised I could not go on like this, as the only person I was hurting, was me.

The first big step to removing 90% of my jealousy, was truly accepting that I was worthy of love and I was desirable. That wasn't easy and it took a lot of time and it's still a process, but once I let go of the idea that someone better would always come along and take the person I loved, the feelings of jealousy definitely subsided.

I still feel jealous from time to time, but I know it's just a feeling and unless I see some actions or behaviour from my partner that justifies that feeling, I feel it and then let it go. I know that it's something I feel because I love my partner, but it's not coming from something real.

Reducing feelings of jealousy in a relationship is a combination of a lot of self-love, self-growth, trust and knowing that you are lovable and no matter how others have treated you in the past, not everyone will hurt you, and the right person/people will love you as you deserve.

Q: How do you set boundaries early in the relationship without being weird?

B: I guess it depends on what you mean by "boundaries". Boundaries should always relate to yourself, rather than restricting your partner. Things like; "I don't feel comfortable if my partner is on dating websites/apps when we are together" rather than; "My partner isn't allowed to go out with friends of the opposite sex", for example. It's also good to have a conversation with your partner early on to work out what boundaries you'd both like to set. Always frame it as something that you do together, rather than the rules that you are giving them! "I'd like to sit down and have a conversation about our expectations of each other are" is a great way to engage in this with your partner.

C: I absolutely agree with Becca, that framing what you would like and need from a partner in a way that doesn't feel like you're controlling them. The first step is actually asking yourself what boundaries you need, what's okay with you and what's not. Knowing yourself first will make it much easier to find a partner that is suited to you and your lifestyle. Also, setting boundaries doesn't need to be something weird, it really benefits everyone! Have a chat with your partner about what things they want from a relationship, maybe write each other a letter if that's easier than saying it on the spot, or you could find some example situations and discuss how you would each react to them. Relationships are all about communication and discussing boundaries is a great step to build a healthy one.

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