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Love/Relationship Columnist Author: Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC - Love/Relationship Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

How Much Jealousy is Too Much Jealousy? 3 Ways to Help

By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC - Love/Relationship Columnist -
Apr 21, 2014 - 12:03:35 AM

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( - Everyone is jealous at times; in fact, jealousy was an important survival instinct for our ancestors. Jealousy motivated the solution to mate poaching which helped protect families.  In a low level form jealousy is healthy. It symbolizes your depth of feeling for your partner and helps your partner feel more desired and loved.  However, when jealousy becomes chronic, debilitating and acted out it becomes a problem. Stalking, doing damage to property or threatening people's lives due to your feelings of jealousy is not normal, and is a red flag of a mentally unhealthy person. People who are controlling, abusive and insecure take jealousy to a dangerous level.

One of the biggest problems with jealousy is dealing with it in healthy ways when you feel it. Couples don't always admit to feeling jealous because they were taught that it's a sign of weakness or insecurity. Trying to hide the feeling doesn't make it go away. When the jealousy you feel is at a low level saying things such as, "Did you see the way that women looked at you?" "Man, I better hold on to you tighter" lets your partner know you noticed someone looking at them, and yet disarms the situation. Your partner will end up feeling more desired by you, and you will feel more in control of your feelings. On the other hand, blaming your partner for giving the woman a look or something else will usually end in a fight with you losing control over your jealousy.

Disarming works best if you are mildly jealous. However, when you've had a stressful day and feel overwhelmed, making light of your feelings is not always possible. There are 3 things you can do that quickly bring you back to being in control. A reminder; these three tips work for normal jealousy that all of us feel. If you have the sort of jealousy that needs more help, counseling is the best option available. There are usually deeper unresolved concerns that need professional help.

1.      Make your body act its most adult self. Your thoughts react to your body posture. If you begin pointing your finger, insulting your partner or acting like a toddler, your thoughts will regress as well. Sit up, slow your breathing, and take control of your thoughts. Going with the thoughts into a crazy rage will worsen your relationship, marriage, and your feelings about yourself.

2.      Be as direct as possible with your partner. Admit honestly to them and don't be embarrassed with how you feel. Tell them, "I feel jealous when ........." A supportive partner will listen and react with sensitivity to your feelings of insecurity when this particular person is in sight (there is a problem though if you have this feeling often with your partner).

3.      Instead of letting your thoughts run wild with jealousy toward your partner, ask yourself why am I so outraged. Were you betrayed in the past? You may have had old issues triggered by a specific look or text. What boundary was crossed? Is there a hidden boundary or sensitive area in your personal life that wasn't discussed with your partner? Everyone has different degrees of boundaries around themselves and their relationship. For some the boundaries are more limited than for others. Talking to your partner about boundaries can end jealous conflicts.

Jealousy is normal, and can be helpful as long as the person feeling it remains in control. When you allow your jealousy to control you, you become a victim of your own making. Destructive jealousy kills love, and families. If your jealousy is so toxic that you no longer trust anyone, it's time to get professional help. You cannot cure jealousy by finding the right partner; no such person exists.

-Mary Jo Rapini

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