Recently I was talking to one of my old college room-mates (I had 13 in 4 years…) who is in a long-distance relationship and is also really insanely jealous, which is basically a Molotov cocktail of relationship doom. We had a nice chat about the root of jealousy, and how she can deal with it healthily while not terrifying her boyfriend, because let’s be real–jealousy is about as sexy as Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.
Don’t get me wrong, when I was younger I used to get crazy jealous and fume and cry. But after a few failed relationships I have come to realize that while mild jealousy is normal, insane jealousy does nothing but ruin otherwise good situations. It won’t change your partner’s behavior, but it will stop you from sleeping and make you cry all the time—two things that make you look bloated and ugly.
If you are jealous because of a lack of trust, and this lack of trust is merited, you should just get out of the relationship. If your partner is going to cheat on you, being insanely jealous will not stop them. If those people on the Titanic saw that iceberg coming, running around going “OMFG AN ICEBERG, I HATE THAT ICEBERG, THAT ICEBERG IS A SHIP-SINKING HOE” while not being able to steer the boat away would be completely fruitless. They would be better off finding a nice car to steam up below deck while the boat is headed for the berg, because that shit is goin’ down no matter what.
In college I dated a guy who was bizarrely jealous of everything that I came into contact with. He was jealous of my room-mate. He was jealous of my cat, whom he nick-named “cock block.” He was, I kid you not, jealous of Facebook. He once had a dream where he went online to find my relationship status had changed to “in a relationship with Facebook.” He was also violent and controlling. It was one of those times in my life I look back at and mentally face-palm myself.
Well, what was I thinking? I was probably, at the time, scared of being alone and thus was convincing myself his jealousy meant he really cared about me and as a result, didn’t want to share me. But in reality, his jealousy stemmed from not only his own insecurity, but from his own guilt. He had messed up once, and although I had forgiven him he was constantly paranoid I was secretly plotting to get back at him by, I donno, boning his room-mate while he was in the shower or dumping him for a social networking site.
A study done by the American Psychological Association in February 2005 (look how legit I sound when I insert facts I didn’t make up!) linked jealousy with low self-esteem and aggression, so if you’re with someone who is insanely jealous it probably has little to do with you, or your relationship. It most likely has more to do with the way they view themselves.
Of course, some people use the “but I was cheated on in the past…” line, which is basically a crutch. If a past partner cheated on you, that sucks, but it isn’t a valid excuse to throw a tantrum when your current boytoy wants a boy’s night out or makes a new friend who also happens to be the owner of her very own vagina. That’s like being afraid to drive a car because of that one time six years ago someone blew through a red-light and T-boned you. If your last relationship made you insecure, then it’s something you need to work on yourself, and not a reason to get all sweaty, red-faced, veiny-necked and bug-eyed when a female co-worker “Likes” your boyfriend’s FB status. It’s not attractive, and it makes you look crazy (and probably constipated).
If you’re the jealous type, try to reason with yourself before blowing up. Ask yourself if you are over-reacting, and if your jealousy—if acted upon—will have a negative impact on your relationship. If you feel your jealousy is merited and their behavior is genuinely making you uncomfortable, by all means talk to them about it. But talk to them about it when you’re calm so that you don’t sound like a tea-kettle.
If you know your jealousy is irrational, then it’s best to keep it to yourself and try to get to the root of the problem. It’s one thing to stomp around your room for a few minutes or call your best friend in a panic. We’re human, after all. But anything more than that is a waste of energy, detrimental to your sanity and to your relationship as well. Think about it this way: If you blow up at your guy or girl for telling you something that makes you irrationally jealous, chances are they won’t change their behavior. Next time, they just won’t tell you.
What do you do if your boyfriend or girlfriend is the jealous type? Well first, decide how severe their jealousy is. Are they violent? A jealous spouse with a violent streak is nothing to mess around with. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 50 percent of the 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members between 1998 and 2002 were committed against spouses. If they have shown the tendency to be violent I would suggest getting out of that situation before they back-hand you in front of 20 of your friends at a White Trash themed house party.
As I said before, mild jealousy is normal. So if their jealousy seems somewhat rational, talk to them about the reasons they are jealous, and find out what their triggers are. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to diffuse a jealous situation. If they are uneasy when you’re out drinking and debauching without them, a simple phone call or text throughout the evening could make them feel comfortable. If their behavior has no merit and is negatively impacting your relationship, stand up for yourself. Don’t make excuses for them or try to amend your behavior just to keep them from having a hissy fit. That’s not healthy.
The bottom line is that illogical jealousy comes about from either insecurity, or a lack of trust. If you’re insecure, don’t take it out on your significant other because it will just put stress on your relationship. Perhaps go to therapy to work that out. I am very pro-therapy. If you’re jealous because you don’t trust your other, and that lack of trust stems from something they have done in the past that you can’t get over, you might want to think about letting the relationship go. A healthy relationship is built on trust, and if you can’t trust them, then you can’t have a healthy relationship.
Okay, tell me how you handle your jealousy. When I was 12 I got jealous of some brownie-baking hussy in my boyfriend’s home economic class, and so I made out with his brother. It made sense at the time.