Coping with jealousy

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Posted May 19, Reviewed by Lybi Ma. Jealousy is a killer. Relationships end because of jealous conflicts, and people kill other people because they are jealous. Imagine this. You are at a party and someone is friendly and you smile. Your partner thinks that you are betraying her. Or your partner tells you Coping with jealousy funny story about a former lover, and you feel threatened.

Susan could identify with this. She hoped he would get the message. At times, she would withdraw into pouting, hoping to punish him for showing an interest in someone else. He just felt confused. At other times Susan would ask him if she still found her attractive. Was he getting bored with her? Was she his type? At first, he would reassure her, but then — with Coping with jealousy demands from her for more reassurance — he began to wonder why she felt so insecure.

My colleague, Dennis Tirch, and I just published a paper on jealousy — and how to handle it. We describe a step-by-step Coping with jealousy to helping people cope with their jealousy. When we are jealous, we worry that our partner might find someone else more appealing, and we fear that he or she will reject us. Since we feel threatened that our partner might find someone more attractive, we may activate jealousy as a way to cope with this danger. We may believe that our jealousy will keep us from being surprised, help us defend our rights, and force our partner to give up interests elsewhere.

We view jealousy as a coping strategy. Similar to other forms of worry, jealousy le us to focus only on the negative. People have different reasons — in different cultures — for being jealous. But jealousy is a universal emotion. In The Dangerous Passion, evolutionary psychologist David Buss makes a good case that jealousy has evolved as a mechanism to defend our interests.

After all, our ancestors who drove off competitors were more likely to have their genes survive. Indeed, intruding males whether among lions or humans have been known to kill off the infants or children of the displaced male. Jealousy was a way in which vital interests could be defended. We believe that it is important to normalize jealousy as an emotion. Psychologists — especially psychoanalysts — have looked at jealousy as a of deep-seated insecurities and personality defects.

We view jealousy as a much more complicated emotion. In fact, jealousy may actually reflect your higher values of commitment, monogamylove, honesty, and sincerity. You may feel jealous, because you want a monogamous relationship, and you fear that you will lose what is valuable to you. We find it helpful to validate these values in our patients who are jealous. But it is also based on choices that two free people make. If your partner freely chooses to go off Coping with jealousy someone else, then you may rest assured that you have good reason to feel jealous.

But if your higher values are based on honesty, commitment, and monogamy, your jealousy may jeopardize the relationship. You are in a bind. Just as there is a difference between feeling angry and acting in a hostile way, there is a difference between feeling jealous and acting on your jealousy. Notice that it is a feeling inside you. But you have a choice of whether you act on it. When you notice that you are feeling jealous, take a moment, breathe slowly, and observe your thoughts and feelings.

Recognize that jealous thoughts are not the same thing as a reality. Thinking and reality are different. Notice that your feelings of anger and anxiety may increase while you stand back and observe these experiences. Accept that you can have an emotion — and allow it to be. Like many worries, jealousy seeks certainty. But uncertainty is part of life, and we have to learn how to accept it. But if you accuse, demand, and punish, you might create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your jealousy may be fueled by unrealistic ideas about relationships. These may include beliefs that past relationships that your partner had are a threat to your relationship.

Or you may have problematic beliefs about how to feel more secure. For example, you may believe that you can force your partner to love you — or force him or her to lose interest in someone else. You may believe that withdrawing and pouting will send a message to your partner — and lead him to try to get closer to you.

But withdrawing may lead your partner to lose interest instead. Sometimes your assumptions about relationships are affected by your childhood experiences or past intimate relationships. If your parents had a difficult divorcebecause your father left your mother for someone else, you may be more prone to believe that this will happen to you.

Or you may have been betrayed in a recent relationship, and you now think that your current relationship will be a replay of this. You may also believe that you have little to offer — who would want to be with you? If your jealousy is based on this belief, then you might examine the evidence for and against this idea. For example, one woman thought she Coping with jealousy little to offer. But when I asked her what she would want in an ideal partner — intelligencewarmth, emotional closeness, creativityfun, lots of interests — she realized that she was describing herself!

If she were so undesirable, then why Coping with jealousy she see herself as an ideal partner? You can use more effective behavior. Coping with jealousy seldom makes relationships more secure. Practicing effective relationship behaviors is often a much better alternative. For more information about how to improve your relationship. Below is an outline from the Leahy and Tirch article on the nature of jealousy.

Robert L. Leahy, Ph. He is a clinical professor of psychology at Weill-Cornell Medical School. Leahy Ph. Anxiety Files. Key points Jealousy seldom makes relationships more secure. Jealous partners who accuse, demand, and punish might create a self-fulfilling prophecy. One way jealous partners can break free from jealousy is by questioning their thoughts and not acting on them.

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Coping with jealousy

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7 Strategies on Dealing with Jealousy in Intimate Relationships