Liz came to me for relationship help having recently starting experiencing the most intense feelings of jealousy around her partner Mark. She was really worried it would destroy her relationship with him. More specifically she felt very threatened by his ex girlfriend and some of his work colleagues. She wanted relationship help fast. As a result of what she termed her ‘green eyed monster’ she was becoming distant, critical and had started checking his emails and texts.This was especially distressing for Liz because it didn’t sit well with her sense of how she liked to be perceived as a kick ass litigator.
Fortunately jealousy is a fairly easy fix, so if you or anyone you know is struggling to cope with it then read on. ( End of teaser)
The first point I’d make here is that overcoming jealousy is a relationship issue. Given that according to my friend John ‘All problems exist in the absence of a great conversation’ then the first thing that needs to happen is a bit of honesty. It’s important that if you need to have this kind of conversation you understand that it’s very likely that no one is right or wrong, it just needs to be talked about.
Unfortunately Liz’s major issue in coping with jealousy was her reluctance to talk to Mark about it. She felt like it exposed her as weak or, heaven forbid, needy. She also felt like she had absolutely no right to be jealous given that Mark had done nothing to cause her any real concern. The first piece of relationship help I offered was to get her clear on the fact that it wasn’t having the feelings of jealousy that made her weak; what was weak, was hiding how she felt from Mark. This is a really important point that I make time and time again, especially with my male clients. There is real strength in disclosing your vulnerability, it takes courage.
Liz’s jealousy was firmly rooted in her own insecurity which given her self image was nothing less than an agony for her to admit, even to herself. I regularly get to work with clients who are facing things about themselves that they would really rather not have to deal with. The thing is though, and here’s a key piece of relationship advice, our intimate relationships are always going to bring up our biggest fears. That’s part of what keeps them intimate.
When you start to discuss your jealousy do not blame your partner, that’ll never work. Even if their behaviour is, in your eyes at least, ‘totally out of order’ I’d ask you to tread carefully. What you’re really seeking here is reassurance. Starting out with a full frontal attack on your loved one’s nature is never going to get you that.
2 Sources of Jealousy
There appear to be two different sources for this type of of jealousy. The first is where one of your ‘life rules’ has been broken, the second is where you can’t really find any justification for your jealousy at all.
We all have life rules, some more than others, but we all have them. These are the kind of things where you find yourself saying things like, ‘There’s a line and you just crossed it!’. Or you’re fine with someone turning up 10 minutes late but you throw a fit if it’s 12 minutes.
In Liz’s case she felt like Mark’s regular phone calls with his ex were a real threat to her. It was made worse by the fact that he’d leave the room he was in with Liz and close the door for privacy. By the time he came back to whatever he’d been doing with Liz she’d got a little frosty but never made a comment about it. This is an example of one of Liz’s ‘life rules’ being broken.
When Liz admitted to him that his leaving the room left her imagining that he was flirting with his ex and potentially complaining about Liz he was horrified. In Mark’s eyes he’d been doing the decent thing and protecting Liz from any feelings of jealousy by leaving the room. This was very quickly and easily remedied.
In my experience most people are really upset when they find out something they’d been doing had been painful for their partner. This is especially true if you can start the conversation from a position of vulnerability.
At this point you’d hope that Liz was ‘fixed’, but it’s sometimes not that simple. For a lot of the population there is a level of insecurity that runs much deeper. In this case Liz was five years older than Mark and she was often concerned that he’d leave her for a younger woman. This is actually one of those second source issues that can’t be justified and is firmly rooted in insecurity.‘Mark – you are no longer allowed to speak with any women younger than I am!’ wasn’t going to wash or fix the problem.
For this piece of her pain I had Liz talk about how she felt about her age and what it meant to her. Over the next few months we built up Liz’s self esteem to the point where she recognised she was gorgeous, sexy and vibrant and Mark was lucky to have her.
It’s important to notice that there is the possibility of generating lots of rules as a way of protecting our feelings of low self esteem which might make things more manageable in the short term but won’t work forever. An example of this would be Liz asking her partner not to talk to anyone of the opposite sex alone when they were out at a party. It might work in the short term if Mark is compassionate but over the longer period he’s going to get resentful.
Liz learned that all of her pain around Mark was rooted in her insecurity and once she owned up to it things began to improve. Mark was able to clear up the misunderstanding but more importantly Liz felt like she was being honest in the relationship again and as a result began to reconnect to her deeper feelings of excitement about their partnership. This breakthrough all started with Liz getting relationship help and admitting that she felt insecure. So is there anything you are hiding from your loved one?
I’d love to hear about any experiences you’ve had in the comments box below. I’ve managed to free up enough time to be able to get more involved with the blog so let me know where you get insecure and how you’ve dealt with it in your relationships. Be sure to take a quick look at the tips below to ensure jealousy doesn’t get the jump on you.
Relationship Advice For Banishing Jealousy
Sometimes if you’re quick enough you can get yourself off your well worn paths to insecurity. Think about it in terms of pictures you’re focusing on. If you’re creating movie sized pictures of your partner making out with an ex with built in surround sound then you’re going to feel terrible. It’s not rocket science. You need to get really good at training your brain to immediately throw up much better pictures of you and your loved one. It’s much easier than you think. If I asked you to make a picture of a mouse and then one of a whale you’d get the idea. Become good at shrinking pictures in your mind.
If you suspect jealousy is an issue for your partner then bring it up. If they share that pain with you it would be best to just reassure your partner. Sometimes they may ask for details that are not going to help in the longer term. This is not a time to tell the total truth as that could well cause more pain than you’d ever want to. Jealousy is deeply rooted in insecurity so do not lay into your loved one about how pathetic they are, they are already fully in touch with that.
One of the quickest ways to reassure a jealous loved one is to let them know that they are your priority, above everything and everyone in your life. This fulfils several of their core needs in a relationship and works wonders in creating a happy relationship.
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