Jealousy is often linked to negative emotions, but it doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, jealousy can also lead to positive outcomes. It’s very important to acknowledge that it’s a natural human emotion that everyone experiences at one point or another. You shouldn’t be too harsh on yourself for feeling it.
Also, jealousy can be a good thing, as long as you don’t go overboard. Dealing with this emotion can be very complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s not healthy. Feeling jealous in a relationship is not the end of the world and doesn’t mean you need to break up.
According to Maya Bialik, founder of The Same Page, a platform where you can connect with people based on what they’re reading, people experience jealousy in very different manners. For some people, a little jealousy is normal and does no harm, while others can turn out to be very toxic partners because of it.
However, no matter what you do, you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. We’re all different and that’s the beauty of our world.
1. Can jealousy be healthy in a relationship?
Healthy and strong relationships usually consist of trust, mutual respect, communication, commitment, and compassion. According to Dr. Leena Magavi, M.D., of Community Psychiatry, the fear of losing someone you love causes all these positive feelings to transform into fear, which often leads to jealousy.
Depending on how you look at it, jealousy can be a good thing, because it means you’re in for the long ride and want something serious. As Dr. Magavi has explained, jealousy can be a good thing when handled properly, because it means you really care for the other person and you’re actually afraid of losing them.
Sometimes people get jealous when their partners give attention to other people because they want to be at the center of attention. Healthy jealousy is when it makes your relationship stronger, rather than destroying it.
Needless to say, jealousy can be very ugly when you don’t know how to deal with it. A lot of relationship fights are caused by excessive jealousy and it’s a sign of a toxic environment. If you or your partner (or both) are very jealous types and always fight over the most unimportant things, it would be recommended to slow down and check in with yourself.
Sometimes, jealousy comes from trust issues. If your ex used to be unfaithful to you, you project the same feeling to your new relationship, even though your current partner might have nothing to do with it. As Dr. Magavi has explained, people need to associate envy with positive emotion and take the time to really understand what makes them feel this way.
“In this case, journaling a timeline of life events, which made them feel unloved may help them identify the trigger. Healing from past trauma in therapy, practicing self-compassion, and interacting with uplifting individuals may help combat debilitating feelings of jealousy,” Dr. Magavi added.
According to Ryan and Alex, the real-life couple behind Duo Life, you need to ask yourself why you’re really jealous, because most of the time, the answer is in yourself. It can be because you have low self-confidence or low self-esteem, and you need to find a way to work on things and improve yourself.
Alex recommends seeing jealousy in a relationship as a signal, rather than the end of the partnership. Recognizing this could help you become a better partner. Also, a little jealousy here and there can be sweet, it shows the other person how much you care.
2. How can you recognize healthy jealousy?
Healthy jealousy is a healthy emotion that contributes to personal growth. It means you’ve matured enough to come to terms with your own insecurities and flaws and you’re choosing to focus on improving yourself. When you reach that phase, you’ll find it easier to be more open with your partner and have a better understanding of one another.
Read also: 10 Signs Your Partner Is Not The One.
3. You’re aware of it.
The first and most important step to healthy jealousy is acknowledging it. It’s important to let your partner know how you feel and learn to open up, but also understand the fact that everything begins with you.
When you’re not even aware of it or don’t want to acknowledge the fact that you are jealous, your partner won’t be able to do anything about it, and you’ll end up even more frustrated. Sharing your insecurities with your significant other is a sign of courage.
4. You talk openly about it.
As Dr. Magavi has explained, another sign of healthy jealousy is when you’re not afraid to talk about your feelings in an honest manner. For instance, healthy jealousy is when you can admit to your partner that you felt jealous when they spoke to a certain person or felt uncomfortable when they did something.
Keeping things to yourself is not a good idea when it comes to a healthy relationship. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities and open up to your partner about how you’re feeling. If you don’t do it, things will always stay the same and you’ll continue to be unhappy.
It might not be the most pleasant conversation, but a relationship can’t be all sunshine and rainbows. Also, if you want your relationship to last, this conversation needs to be had.
5. You understand why you’re feeling this way.
Understanding the reasons behind your jealousy is not always easy, but trying to do so is a very important step to a healthy relationship. Maybe you’ve got trust issues from a previous relationship that has nothing to do with your current partner, you have low self-esteem or you’ve caught them with a lie and now you fear they will lie again, either way, if you can’t manage these strong feelings, it would be recommended to seek professional help.
Here’s a book that may help you understand your feeling better.
6. You’re not afraid to take responsibility.
According to Alex, the way you respond to your own jealousy is very important in either making or breaking the relationship. “All you can control are your feelings — your partner may be oblivious — so you may be making yourself unnecessarily suffer,” she added.
Taking responsibility means addressing your jealousy and trying to find solutions for your problems, including opening up to your partner. As Alex has explained, taking responsibility will not always be easy, sometimes it might look like making sacrifices.
7. The signs of unhealthy jealousy.
We’ve already established that healthy jealousy can make your relationship even stronger, but it’s also worth mentioning that unhealthy jealousy can ruin your relationship. The word ‘jealous’ comes from the Latin ‘zelous’, which means intense or passionate.
If jealousy becomes an obsession, your relationship will have to suffer. Ignoring your emotions is not a great idea either. You need to be ok with the fact that jealousy is a natural feeling, however, letting it simmer will lead to a lot of couple fights.
8. You’re always paranoid and suspicious.
According to Dr. Magavi, “Unhealthy jealousy results in impulsive comments and actions related to distrust such as, ‘I know why you didn’t text me back right away. I’m sure you’re texting that other guy instead,’ or ‘Your Snapchat score keeps increasing. I know you are sending nudes to your coworker.’”
When you accuse someone of doing something without having proof, it’s pure speculation that could easily lead to paranoia. According to Dr. Rashmi Parmar, M.D., also with Community Psychiatry, your jealousy can become toxic for yourself and for your relationship when you’re focusing too much on it.
9. You’re depressed or even thinking about self-harming.
Excessive jealousy could easily contribute to depression or even lead to suicidal thoughts. According to Dr. Parmar, if you’re always obsessing over your partner and creating unrealistic scenarios in your head you need to seek professional help.
This is very serious and shouldn’t get overlooked, she continued saying. At the same time, if you’re dating someone that is experiencing depression caused by jealousy, it’s important to understand that fixing them is not your job and they need medical attention.
10. You have passive-aggressive behavior.
Jealousy could lead to sarcastic comments, frequent complaints, childish behavior, and refusing to discuss certain topics with your partner. A good option would be being honest about your feelings and opening up to your partner about how you feel. While it can be hard to handle jealousy, it’s certainly not impossible.
11. You try to control your partner.
The desire to control your partner usually comes from excessive jealousy, and it can ruin your relationship if you don’t do anything about it. Controlling someone can have many forms. Some people choose to invade other people’s privacy by reading their text messages, emails, or other private conversations on social media.
There are also those people that are not ok with their partner going anywhere without them, or hanging out with certain people. At the same time, others forbid their partner from wearing certain clothes while going out. Either way, excessive jealousy could transform you into a controlling partner.
According to Dr. Parmar, if you jump to conclusions every time your partner doesn’t answer the phone immediately, it might be a sign that your behavior is toxic and you need to do something about it as soon as possible before it ruins your relationship.
12. What you can do if your partner is the jealous type.
If your partner is the jealous type, or they’ve expressed their concerns about you spending time with certain people, reacting negatively to their emotions is not a good option. Also, please avoid telling them these feelings are wrong. Do not judge them for feeling this way. Jealousy is a natural, human emotion that all of us experience at one time or another.
Understand that jealousy is your partner’s way of telling you that they’re afraid of losing you. Be open to communication and try to understand what the other person is going through. Empathy is essential in handling this situation.
According to Bialik, the most important thing you can do if your partner is jealous is to take their feelings seriously. Work together to understand why the other person is feeling this way, maybe it’s something you’ve done, or it has nothing to do with you, either way, you need to be supportive.
Try to find ways to solve this problem together. However, if communicating about the issue doesn’t help, or the other person gets defensive every time you try to bring up this topic, it might be a good idea to seek professional help, Bialik added.
Show them how much you care by trying to understand their love language. Additionally, don’t be afraid to use extra words of affirmation to tell your partner how much they mean to you, or small acts of service to make them understand that you’re devoted to the relationship.
Make sure to also check: 14 Signs of a Strong and Healthy Relationship, According to Psychologists.