Jealousy is one of the main culprits behind break-ups in relationships. It’s an emotion that is common and expected in humans. To an extent, it shows you care for something that you love, and in some instances, it can even be a motivator to improve oneself. But where does it cross the line into the realm of being unhealthy or possibly even dangerous?
This complicated emotion gets a bad rap, and in some cases, rightfully so. Some jealousy, though, is healthy, but how much can be seen as healthy and where is the line where it becomes unhealthy and excessive? In this article, we’re going to explain at what point it goes from healthy to unhealthy and how to deal with it effectively.
What Causes Jealousy?
As mentioned, some jealousy is healthy. It is an emotion that has evolved with humans since cave dwellers and is believed to exist as part of our protective instincts. However, at the same time, it can point to one’s insecurities or trust issues.
Physical appearance, job, stature, income, and many other factors are potential reasons for feelings of inadequacy. The unhealthiness comes about when we behave in a manner that indulges that feeling, such as acting impulsively from a place of insecurity. More severe cases of this indulgence can lead to obsession and paranoia, which can be detrimental to oneself and their relationships.
How to Tell if Your Jealousy Is Becoming Unhealthy
Perhaps the easiest way to figure this out is to ask yourself, “How much time do I spend thinking about/ acting on the issues?” There’s no exact amount of time that could be used as a yardstick; however, if you find that it’s frequently crossing your mind, this is usually the biggest indicator that some unhealthiness may be present. Some of the most common signs of unhealthy behavior caused by jealousy are:
Lack of Trust and Suspicion
Attachment issues are a common sign of unhealthy behavior, and the need for you to be with someone all the time or for them not to spend time with anyone else are common examples. While it may seem sweet at first, every person deserves time away from a relationship and to pursue their interests.
Relationships are often made up of one more dominant party than the other, but there should be a clear distinction between dominant and controlling. Controlling behavior examples include:
- Dictating who your partner is and isn’t allowed to communicate with
- Expecting them to check-in or prove their whereabouts
- Frustration when text messages or phone calls are not answered right away
Be aware of the differences between controlling behavior and someone having a dominant personality. Don’t make excuses for your partner’s behaviors.
Checking your partner’s texts, emails, social media, etc., are all signs of unhealthy behavior. Everyone is entitled to some level of privacy, and indulging your jealousy by violating your partner’s privacy should be a cause for concern.
Jealously becomes unhealthy when you begin fixating on things and most commonly exhibit one or more of the above behaviors. Remember, recovering from infidelity does not mean controlling or snooping into your partner’s life if there is a breach of trust. These will likely lead to further unhealthy actions, adding to the existing issues. This can be overcome; however, it can be more difficult for some people than for others.
Overcoming Jealousy in the Relationship
A key to maintaining a healthy relationship is spotting the signs of unhealthy behavior as early as possible. Below are our recommendations on how to work through the jealousy.
Accept and acknowledge your feelings: The first step to working through jealousy healthily is to accept that it exists and affects you in a certain way. Remember, it’s normal. As long as you ignore them, you cannot get rid of them.
Communicate – Possibly the most important of all, let your partner know what you are dealing with. Yes, it may not be easy at first, but you must communicate and in a gentle and non-confrontational way. Attacking your partner with accusations and anger will likely cause them to become defensive and the conversation can quickly spiral into an argument or worse.
Discuss what’s bothering you and what triggered the issue, and explore solutions together. Remember, talking about the issue allows your partner to explain their take on the situation, and you may find that your concerns were merely built up in your mind.
In addition, you should commit to this same level of open communication from this point on in every instance where jealousy triggers begin to rear their head.
Agree on Boundaries – Once you’ve both had a fair chance to explain your parts, it’s important to agree on the boundaries of acceptance. All too often, couples acknowledge where the problem lies but do not clearly discuss (and agree upon) what the expectation is going forward. For example, suppose you discussed that you feel threatened by your partner going out partying too often.
In that case, a boundary should be put in place around how often is actually acceptable, or if you could be invited maybe once a week/ month, etc. This shows that you are not trying to control the other person but merely setting clear boundaries of what you feel is acceptable and coming to an agreeable way forward between the both of you.
The feeling of jealousy is a common human expectation end experience, whether in relationships or in regular friendships. It is therefore completely normal but can easily turn out excessive, unhealthy, and even dangerous. Jealousy stems from a feeling of being threatened, and a key step to dealing with the issue is identifying what is causing this feeling.
Is it your partner’s actions, or is it your feelings of inadequacy and mistrust? Whether it equates to needing to work on yourself or the needs of your relationship, communication is essential to working through the concerns and cutting out any potential unhealthy behavior or actions at the root.