Disclaimer: This article is written from a male perspective. Rest assured, however, I understand that both men and women can display equal amounts of jealousy.
When we’re with someone who tends to get jealous, we need to take special care to handle the accusations in a way that builds the relationship. And getting defensive, fighting, etc…only tears the relationship down.
Here are some ideas that will send you in the right direction when it comes to handling jealous accusations from a romantic partner. I’ll assume that – being on the receiving end of unjustified accusations – that you are innocent and loyal.
1. Don’t lie.
No one is perfect. If you cover up your actions with self-justifying lie – even white lies – then you are digging yourself a pit of despair. Don’t do it. Be frank about what you do. For example:
She: “I saw you look at that woman the moment we walked into the room!”
He: “Yes, I looked right at her.”
She: “I guess that’s the type you’re interested in, then. Go ahead and talk to her all you want!”
He: I’m not interested in her. I looked at her when we walked into the room. But I’m not interested in talking to her at all. I love you and am not impressed with how other people look, even though I notice sometimes.
Just tell the truth. You’re a human being. If you notice someone else, say it. And if you love your partner, you really won’t be interested in others romantically. You have nothing to hide, do don’t hide.
2. Understand why, but expect an eventual resolution.
It’s important to understand why your partner gets jealous. Chances are that there is a lot of pain behind that jealousy. Cheating and betrayal of all kinds is so common. People get hurt. And they are afraid of getting hurt again. This is understandable. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Doesn’t the jealousy make sense?
That said, often the issue is so problematic that it puts your relationship in peril. Your message should be: I understand that you’ve been hurt. I know it’s hard for you. And….I have no intention of hurting you. I’m loyal. So, I will work with you until you can trust me. I deserve your trust and expect that you will give it to me.
Most of us grossly underestimate how long it takes to really earn trust from someone with a history of betrayal. It can take several years. If you’re with someone that you love deeply who has a trust issue, give it time. Work on it together. Keep the issue respectfully on the table. It can be overcome, but not quickly and not without patience.
3. Agree on how to talk about it.
The biggest issue with jealousy is how to talk about it. The natural tendency is to accuse and defend, fight and feel horrible. This has to end. In a way, dealing with this issue is simple when it comes to communication. The jealous partner needs to says, “I’m feeling jealous.”
Or, “I’m feeling scared.” Something non-accusatory! When you receive this communication, you can simply respond, “Oh, I don’t want you to feel bad. What can I do?”
Your goal is to mutually express original feelings and to comfort your scared, hurt partner. Nothing more.
If you receive accusations right off the bat, then you can respond with a question. “Are you feeling jealous, hurt or scared?” Keep the discussion about the real issue so you can resolve it.
4. Don’t ever cheat on someone with a history of betrayal.
If you’re with someone whose been hurt in the past, don’t add to it. If you need to leave the relationship, then do it honorably. Make a clean break before starting something new. Few things are lower than to knowingly pour salt on another’s wound. If you’re tempted to cheat, look in the mirror and tell yourself to grow up.
5. Don’t obsess about the issue.
Focus on the many positive aspects of your relationship. Don’t make the jealousy issue a matter of national security. Don’t take personal offense. It’s not about you.
Offer reassurance to your partner that you’ll work through it together, in time, and in the meantime you get to enjoy your life together.
If you hyper-focus on the jealousy issue and ignore all the good things going in your relationship, then you can consider that an act of self-sabotage. Relationships – especially relationships in which one or both partners have a history of betrayal – are prone to self-sabotage. This is why it is critical to do all of the above – and more.
The good news is, you’ll grow closer together as you patiently and maturely solve this problem. Most often, jealousy is resolvable, provided that both partners are working on the issue and not pretending it shouldn’t exist.
You can learn more about how to do relationships right with Jake and Hannah Eagle’s Dating, Relating and Mating online education program. It’s the best relationship intervention around.
Mike Bundrant is author of the book Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage.
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