In our series on negative emotions we are looking at the unhealthy negative emotion of Jealousy that are mainly provoked by holding unhealthy beliefs or attitudes (demands) about the threat by another person to a relationship that is important to us. Relationships we may experience the feeling of Jealousy about are not just the romantic ones. We can feel jealousy about threats to other relationships too, close friends, family members for example. This blog will look at jealousy in romantic relationships.
Its healthy negative emotional counterpart is Concern for one’s relationship, rather unwieldy but there is not a more appropriate term in the English language.
Jealousy, in effect, involves three people so there is a triangular relationship and it is a defining characteristic of jealousy; there is, you, a person who is important to you with whom you are in some kind of relationship and thirdly another person who you perceive is a threat.
When you are unhealthily jealous you tend to imagine that your partner is interested in another person and twist any information to absolute beliefs even when there is no real evidence.
How do you know if you are jealousy or have healthy concern for you relationship?
Jealousy is a highly destructive emotion. You might experience jealousy if you see your partner paying attention to someone else or if you feel you are not being paid enough attention. When you feel jealous, you tend to behave in a possessive manner, looking and finding signs of infidelity (or of love interest) by your partner. It is destructive because the pain and misery is not just felt by the sufferer of jealousy but by the partner too. If you feel jealous you tend to monitor and check your partner; checking text messages, emails, letters, aftershave/perfume, underwear, questioning your partner and so on. A lot of the time your mind is preoccupied with thoughts of infidelity wondering if your partner is committing it or thinking about it. With the constant vigilance over your partner’s behaviour, it is more than probable that you are also experiencing intense anxiety for much of your time. Even when you are in the company of your partner, the vigilance is apparent as you look for signs of the threat when out socialising together. You may remain preoccupied with it mentally even you get home or you may start quizzing or accusing your partner.
If you experience jealousy you may hold a belief that you can only feel “worthwhile” if you are the centre and object of your partner’s love interest. This means that your worth is dependent on your partner’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour towards you. Unfortunately, this is out of your control and it is important to care but no so that your life and worth depends on it.
When you experience concern for your relationship you do not confabulate stories in your mind about their infidelity and imagine they will leave you or prefer the other person. You accept the fact that your partner may well find someone else interesting or attractive, you are not threatened by this as you hold beliefs of self acceptance and worth and you are able to conduct yourself assertively and communicate effectively with your partner.
- Accept the things that are within your control and the things that are not. You can control what you believe and what you do. You are not in control of what your partner thinks, feels, imagines or does.
- Accept yourself unconditionally. Your worth does not depend on anyone or on anything.
- Get involved yourself in activities that you enjoy and build your own pleasure in life rather than making your life completely about your partner.
- Express your feelings of concern rather than interrogating your partner.