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Dealing with a jealous partner

Everyone feels a little jealous at times.

In many cases it is flattering and illustrates how much your partner loves you. But don’t be fooled – jealousy is not love, it is insecurity and when it spins out of control it can be very damaging to the relationship. If you are dealing with a jealous partner then you are probably also very familiar with arguments and fights that don’t seem to get resolved.

Remember that jealousy is based in insecurity. It is fear of a real, or perceived threat of loss and there is very often a very real reason for it. It may be a past experience or it may be that your behaviour is being misinterpreted as flirtatious and inappropriate. Either way, it is important for you to deal with your jealous partner with empathy and understanding, reassuring him/her when needed and creating a supportive and trustworthy platform from which to deal with the issue. However, bear in mind that jealousy that is possessive and creates a ‘prison’ of the relationship forbidding you to spend time with friends and family is unhealthy and unacceptable. If this is the case then it may be time to end the relationship and move on.

Having said that, the first and most effective way in dealing with a jealous partner is to empathise with the insecurity. Try to have an open and empathic discussion of where this insecurity stems from. Does your partner misinterpret your behaviour? Has s/he been hurt in the past? What sort of relationships does s/he have with his/her parents and is there previous trauma there? These are all reasons for feeling insecure and afraid of loss and it is important for you both to understand the source of the jealous feelings.

Once you have discussed potential reasons for your partner’s jealousy, make sure that you adjust your behaviour if this is something that is causing suspicion. Try to be as open and honest about your whereabouts, as well as the people you encounter in your day. Including a level of transparency to the relationship eliminates secrets and breeding ground for mistrust. If your partner feels insecure about a particular situation, try to reassure rather than defend.

While his/her jealous feelings can become frustrating, it is important that your partner feels heard and understood.

At all times you should be tackling the issue as a united team. Using joint problem solving techniques to deal with issue will help your partner feel like you are on the same side and eliminate feelings of insecurity.

In the spirit of joint problem solving, ensure that you are also assertive about your needs if your partner’s jealousy feels like it is getting out of control. Possessive behaviour can feel limiting and frightening so ensure that you are able to communicate your own feelings about his/her jealousy. Again, in a joint manner, you can discuss ways in which you can deal with these feelings. At the same time you may negotiate acceptable ways of relating to other people that will not enhance any feelings of insecurity or jealousy. Remember it is not ok for your partner to forbid you to spend time with other people. Rather find ways in which you can relate to other people that will not feel threatening to your partner.

Essentially, we all want to be loved and appreciated. If you go the extra mile to show your partner how much you love him/her you will also go a long way in terms of reducing his/her insecurities. When your actions communicate how important they are in your life, they will begin to believe that there is no fear of losing you.

Delany Skerrett | CFHP
Delaney Skerrett

Delaney is a senior registered psychologist working with people of all backgrounds and with a special interest in LGBTI+ people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and Indigenous people.

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