I can think of a time when I was particularly jealous in my relationship. It happened a couple of years ago, when we were celebrating my partner Phillip and his twin brother’s birthday one weekend at a beach with nearby dunes. Phillip had invited his only close female friend (along with a bunch of his “bruhs”), and she brought a couple of friends.
During that weekend, I couldn’t help but notice how much time she was spending with him instead of her friends. At first I thought, “Maybe she and Phil are just catching up because they live several hours apart. And she’s in a committed relationship. Assume good intentions.” Then at the end of my surf lesson during that getaway, his twin brother picked me up when I was expecting Phillip.
“Phil’s in the hospital because he tore open his chin off a dirt bike jump” was more or less what he told me, point blank and stone-faced. Calmly, I called Phillip. He was okay and about to get stitches, and he told me she was there with him.
“Ugh,” I thought. “Okay, maybe she’s just trying to be helpful. Assume good intentions.” Thankfully, she left the hospital after I arrived.
Finally (and this is a very truncated story), her flirt game seemed to be up to 11 (Spinal Tap reference) during our last lunch together, almost like she wanted it on blast. She rarely made eye contact with me, hardly spoke to me, and kept her focus on him (as I remember it). She and I gave each other pitiful hugs when we parted (like the “hug” version of a limp handshake), and I couldn’t help but bring it up during Phillip’s and my ride home.
“What? [Friend’s Name Whom I’ll Keep Anonymous]?! Nah, she’s just a good friend,” Phillip told me.
I realized I trusted him more than I did her (which was a good start, I guess). So, I went from being jealous to territorial, like a lioness defending her cubs against a homewrecker. I felt the need to monitor her on social media (like any sane person would—not!) and tried to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. She wouldn’t accept my friend requests on either platform.
“She just doesn’t check social media very much,” Phil said.
But she had already virtually connected with one of Phil’s co-workers who was on the trip, and that was the first time they had met. (Yes, I was keeping track and could tell! See how nuts-o I became?) I removed my friend request and tried again, and again, and again. But she wouldn’t respond.
The Road to Self-Redemption
Phillip’s friend and I are on better terms now, but at the time, I realized had to be real with my feelings. Whether or not she was trying to cause trouble like Dennis the Menace, I learned to confront my inner demons so I could earn back my throne as the Queen of High Self-Esteem.
I asked myself some tough questions:
- What about her behavior pissed me off? I interpreted her behavior as interfering with and disrespecting my relationship.
- How did that make me feel? The way my boyfriend laughed with her made me feel inadequate and kicked to the curb. I tried not to let it bother me, but her behavior seemed on purpose.
- How did that affect my behavior? Well, I tried e-stalking her like a lunatic…
- What’s a new thought I could have about this situation? I’m better than this! Phillip is committed to me for several reasons, and I (choose to) trust him. What’s more important is that I’m committed to myself. I mean, HELLO, not only did I go surfing at the beach, but I also went skydiving for not the first, but the second time while we were there. I’m not defined by jealousy; I’m a Bad. Ass. Mother. Fucker.
- What’s a new feeling (emotion) I could have? I feel empowered. I feel more than adequate. I feel grateful that I trust both myself and my man. I feel secure and at peace knowing what’s true for me.
- How can I show that in my actions (i.e., walk the talk)? The next time a woman visibly flirts with my man, I will remember my new thoughts and feelings. I won’t let her actions bother me. That woman might have deeper issues to work out, and instead of being upset with her, I can try to empathize with her. Perhaps she’s jealous of me, and I can show her that I’m a good, well-intentioned person.
See how easy it can be to shift your attitude about a situation so you can shift your behavior and live a more fulfilling (love) life?
If you’re diggin’ this and want to learn more, then here’s some more research-backed information about jealousy and how to handle it (details for each point below are here):
- Jealousy is angry, agitated worry. When we’re jealous, we fear our partners will reject us for someone more appealing. Fear activates jealousy as a coping mechanism against danger.
- Jealousy can be an adaptive emotion (mechanized to defend our interests).
- Jealousy may reflect your higher values (such as monogamy, and you fear you’ll lose what’s valuable to you).
- Jealous feelings are different from jealous behaviors. You might feel something, but you don’t have to act on it.
- Accept and observe your jealous thoughts and feelings. Breathe. Thoughts, feelings, and realities are different.
- You don’t have to obey your jealous thoughts and feelings. They’re just chemical reactions inside of you. They’re there, but they shall pass, like a cloud or an ocean wave.
- Recognize that uncertainty is part of every relationship (and life). At the time of writing this, Phillip and I have been together for 5.5 years. But there’s no crystal ball for what’s to come. Instead of prying more information out of him (which can be a relationship killer), it’s better to trust him and take it on faith that he’s faithful.
- Examine your assumptions about relationships. The media tend to feed us unrealistic expectations about love and relationships. Our childhood experiences can do the same. What assumptions about love and relationships can you throw away? What new ideas can you adopt?
- Use effective relationship skills (to counter your jealousy). How can you begin to reward instead of punish each other?
If the time is right and you need help trading in your relationship anxiety and insecurity for peace of mind, then hit me up here and I’ll be in touch ASAP.
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