Jealousy can unhinge even the most rational-minded partner.
Luckily, with some work and close monitoring of your emotional triggers, you can get a handle any jealous urges, said Andrea Wachter, a marriage and family therapist in Northern California.
“While it’s important to ask yourself if your partner is truly doing anything to contribute to your flared feelings, it’s most essential to look inward and begin to heal the wounds that jealousy is indicative of,” she said.
Below, Wachter and other marriage therapists offer their best advice for becoming less suspicious in your relationship.
1. Figure out why you’re jealous.
The first step to becoming less jealous is to recognize why you feel the way you do, said Alicia H. Clark, a psychologist based in Washington, D.C. Have you always considered yourself the jealous type — or is there a specific betrayal you’re trying to come to grips with from the past?
“Focusing on your feelings will ground you and help you get to the bottom of what’s really going on,” she said. “Did your partner do something? Are you feeling rejected or afraid of losing your relationship? Notice what you’re feeling and experiencing and why. Generally, jealousy has to do with fearing a loss of something you have.”
2. When you feel insecure, tell your partner.
There’s no point in keeping your emotions bottled up. When something triggers your spidey sense, mention it — but don’t assign blame, said Anne Crowley, an Austin, Texas-based psychologist.
“Try to express your feelings of jealousy and insecurity without accusing your partner of wrongdoing,” she said. “If you frame it like, ‘I didn’t like the way you were talking to that woman. It made me feel insecure,’ then your partner has an opportunity to respond calmly to your underlying feelings, whether it’s fear, frustration, anxiety or insecurity.”
That approach is a lot more constructive than confronting your partner with anger, Crowley said.
“If you say, ‘I saw how you looked at her. Are you two having an affair?!’ he’ll probably get defensive,” she explained. “When you lead with your emotions (‘I felt really uncomfortable…’), your partner has a better chance to respond and reassure you.”
3. Recognize when jealousy is called for and when it isn’t.
The next time you flip out over another girls’ night out, ask yourself if there’s really cause for alarm or if you’re allowing insecurities to get the best of you.
“If your partner isn’t doing anything inappropriate but you’re still feeling jealous, figure out what triggers you,” she said. “See how far back your feelings go and what you need to soothe and reassure yourself. And within reason, consider what you might need from your partner to feel more at ease.”
If you make a request of your partner — say, asking them to send a check-in text at some point during the evening — let them know you’re aware that the issue lies with you and they’ve done nothing wrong.
“Tell them you’re working on feeling more secure and this is one way they can help you do that,” Wachter said.
4. Realize this is going to more of an uphill battle if there’s infidelity in your past.
If you’ve been cheated on in the past, working through your distrust is going to be a lot harder, Crowley said.
“One way to be a less jealous partner is to catch yourself when you engage in jealous thoughts — and then stop yourself,” she recommended. “Give yourself a reassuring self-talk where you consider how much more loyal your current partner is compared to your last S.O.”
Then, try your hardest to let it go, she said. “Don’t allow yourself to ruminate on jealous thoughts — it will just make it worse for you and your relationship.”
5. Suggest to your partner constructive ways to quell your jealousy.
You can’t remember the last time you and spouse went out to eat. Meanwhile, she goes out to lunch with her coworkers every other day. If there’s something your spouse does with others that you wish she’d do with you, bring it up, said Stephanie Buehler, a Southern California-based psychologist.
“Don’t make your partner defensive,” she explained. “Just gently suggest that perhaps they need to make changes in their own life to accommodate you.”
6. Take ownership of your jealousy and directly ask for what you need from your partner.
The bottom line is that you — not your partner — need to be the first to address your insecurity and suggest ways to build trust, said Crowley.
“If you are worried about him going out with the guys, tell him. It does not mean that he needs to come home earlier or that he can’t go out but ideally, talking about it will leave you in a better state when he leaves,” she said. “When we communicate and believe our partners ‘tell us everything,’ there is more security in the relationship and less reason to be jealous.”
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