Les came to me a few months ago, fearful that his wife was having an affair. They’d been having problems, and she was spending more and more time out of the house, apparently out with friends. Les didn’t believe her for a second, and spent the time stewing at home, dialing her cell number, and on more than one occasion, cruising around to see if he could see her out and about.
As soon as she came home, she’d be given a relentless grilling, and over time she shut him down entirely. Communication dried up, and the relationship was, it appeared, all but over.
He looked dreadful: tried, overwrought and overweight. His skin was bad, his breath was nasty, and he displayed all the classic signs of a guy who was being eaten up, from the inside out.
And of course all this desperation and jealousy was not only making him sad and sick, it was driving her further and further away too! His lack of trust in her was not only deeply insulting but was eroding anything good they’d ever had.
Now Les desperately wanted to get out of this horrible mess, and was willing to work with me to completely change his perspective and behaviors.
I can guarantee that letting your jealousy show is a fail-safe way to lose your dignity, dismantle your self-esteem and frankly, ruin your life! Nothing will ruin a relationship or marriage faster than jealously. It creates anxiety, anger, loneliness, hate and fear. No one thinks clearly when they’re jealous.
Having a relationship with a jealous person is no fun either. Jealousy makes the person unattractive, even transforming them from lover and supporter, to enemy.
No one wants a jealous partner and no one likes being jealous. So how come so many people are?
In my experience there are a number of reasons, but the primary cause is a breakdown in communications, and this usually happens for one of two reasons:
Something has changed, and for some reason you don’t feel able to communicate openly and honestly anymore…
Or perhaps one or both partners are manipulating their power by withholding information out of anger, hurt or even just plain thoughtlessness.
Both situations create communication “black-holes” which are then easily filled with fill fear, fury and fantasy.
Communication vacuums open up room for tons of tough questions from the jealous guy. “Has she found someone she likes better than me?” “Is she cheating on me?” “Is she going to leave me?” “Has she found someone richer, younger, funnier?”
When you’re jealous you assume the worst:
“Maybe she’ll fall in love with her personal trainer and leave me.”
“She’s going to lunch with her boss because she’s having an affair with him.”
“She’s not answering the phone because she’s in bed with some guy in a motel!” You know how that one goes? I bet you felt pretty stupid too, when she came in from the supermarket carrying loads of groceries, but even as you unpacked those groceries I bet you were still looking for clues that she’d been cheating!
Wow. We sure make life tough for ourselves sometimes.
So how do you handle these awful feelings of jealousy? How do you deal with a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend who is jealous?
First if you are jealous, you need to communicate. You need to stop assuming the worst and ask questions. Open up the lines again. Don’t be aggressive, defensive, confrontation or prickly.
Second, and just as important, you have to stop looking thirsty for reassurance. How on earth can she respect you, if you don’t respect yourself enough to control your fears and paranoia?
Thirdly, you have to remind yourself why you are together in the first place, and understand that a relationship is only worth keeping alive if you CAN trust each other. If that trust is lost forever, then maybe it’s time to move on.
Remember, jealousy is demeaning and humiliating. It is a sign of weakness and fear. In the end the fastest way to kill the monster has nothing to do with your partner, and everything to do with you. When you have great self-esteem, jealousy has no choice but to pack it’s bags, and leave town!