9 keys to understand jealousy and learn how to overcome it.
Key ideas to understand why jealousy appears, and tips to manage it.
The romantic love model is still present today in the concept of what a couple's relationship should be like. Many of the myths of romantic love include erroneous beliefs about jealous behavior, taking for granted that jealousy is a sign of love, an indicator of "true" love and even an essential condition of it. In the same way that its absence would be a lack of love: "he who is not jealous of his partner is because he does not really love her".
It is observed how these myths are present in people through dysfunctional thoughts about what love is, couple relationships and how they work, maintaining unhealthy ways of relating as a couple and full of interactions with a high toxic content.
In fact, even today it is not uncommon to see in fictional stories how couple relationships are normalized in which there are strong conflicts due to jealousy, or in which a person treats his or her partner as if he or she were a belonging to be kept away from possible "competitors".
This link between the model of romantic love and jealousy is increasingly being questioned, and with good reason: behind the behavior of people who are very jealous of their partner, there are problems that cannot be ignored.. Let's see what they are, and several tips on what to do in these cases.
4 problems that may be behind jealousy in the couple's relationship
Some of the psychological factors or sources of discomfort that can cause jealousy to emerge in a couple's relationship have to do with living together and the way in which both people relate and communicate, while others are of an individual nature, or can be explained by influences from the social context.
1. The hegemonic paradigm of romantic love
One of the aspects that most favors the appearance of jealousy in a couple's relationship is that, simply put, it has been learned that this desire to control the other is the only way to love that exists..
This is a retrograde vision of what it means to love someone, there is a desire for possession to minimize the risk of "going with other people". It is a contradictory and erroneous idea in which it is understood that jealousy is proportional to the intensity with which one loves, but at the same time one does not trust the other person and assumes that the affective bond is weak enough to have to be restricting the freedom of the other to make it work.
However, jealousy is not a sign of love, but rather an element capable of wearing down the relationship and damaging the well-being of both the one who experiences it first hand and the one who receives this kind of behavior. Love does not have to hurt through this desire to have the other person for oneself.
2. Social pressure and rigidity in terms of gender roles.
This is a problem closely linked to the previous one: for some people, anything that breaks with traditional gender roles can be a sign that something is wrong.and that they will experience rejection by others if things do not "get back on track". In other words, there are people who do not even feel jealousy in a genuine way, but act jealous in order to conform to certain schemes of how a relationship is supposed to be.
3. Low self-esteem and emotional dependence
Jealousy often stems from problems of low self-esteem. The dependence of the jealous person on his/her partner indicates a certain inability to love him/herself..
Feeling self-conscious, dissatisfaction with one's own physical appearance, feelings of inferiority and personal insecurity cause the jealous person to have thoughts of "anyone can be more valid than me" and thus be a rival in his or her relationship. These personality characteristics increase jealous behaviors, mistrust and concern for the partner's fidelity, generating suffering for the jealous person, his or her partner and the relationship.
4. Traumatic experiences and dependence with psychopathological roots
In some cases, jealousy is actually a panic to be left alone, given that the relationship is seen as a "relationship of the same kind".In some cases, jealousy is actually a panic to be alone, since the relationship is seen as a balm that helps to conceal the discomfort we feel with our own life. In cases like this, the priority is not so much to strengthen the relationship as to treat these individual psychological problems first.
5 guidelines to overcome these problems
Follow these guidelines to solve the problems that go hand in hand with partner jealousy.
1. Rule out the possibility that abuse is occurring.
The first thing to do is to identify whether jealousy is infringing on the freedoms of one of the people involved in the relationship, either through serious attempts at manipulation, constant emotional blackmail, etc. This type of behavior is a serious problem that, if it is very present in the relationship, can take the form of a type of abuse (it should not be forgotten that physical abuse is not the only type of abuse that exists).
This is a task that must be carried out on an individual basisThis is a task that must be carried out individually, so that our perception of the facts is not conditioned or eclipsed by the ideas of the other person. In the case that you are already in an abusive dynamic, it is very important to cut the relationship and not to stay in it to try to "fix it".
Identify possible asymmetries in the externalization of jealousy.
Another aspect that will condition the way in which the problems of jealousy should be approached is whether these are always externalized by one person or whether they occur mutually. If there are clear asymmetries in this respect, it must be clear that one party must try to repair the damage done without expecting special "compensation" for it. If they occur in both persons, both should commit themselves to repair the damage as far as possible.
3. Establish red lines that cannot be crossed.
Every relationship should leave room for individual freedom to those involved in it, but sometimes, this idea, which is so common in both partners, is not always followed.But sometimes this apparently simple idea is overlooked.
That is why it is necessary to make this value of individual freedom explicit in one or more conversations: talk about situations in which it is not logical to give up certain decisions or actions just to avoid displeasing the other person, giving examples, but always from a constructive mentality and without seeking to "attack" the other person. Remember that if you are doing this, it is not to make the other person feel bad, but to improve the quality of the relationship and your well-being in it.
4. Establish a list of situations in which jealousy hinders the relationship.
Take at least one time to identify five to ten (or ten to twenty, if jealousy occurs in both) common situations in which jealousy appears and is a problem. Write them down and order them according to the discomfort they cause each of you. Then, for each situation, write down at least two typical phrases that the jealous person uses to externalize this discomfort. In this way it will be easier to identify situations like this in the futureand you will both be clearer that you should not give in to these kinds of feelings.
5. Go to psychotherapy
Psychological therapy services can be adapted to cases in which only one of the people involved in the relationship suffers from jealousy, as well as those in which there is jealousy on both sides. Through personalized attention it is possible to identify the underlying problem and intervene on it by promoting new habits, new ways of communicating and relating, and new ways of thinking and interpreting reality. In this way it is much easier to achieve changes for the better, which are maintained over time and strengthen the love relationship.
Do you want to have professional psychological help for jealousy in a couple?
If you are in a relationship in which problems associated with jealousy have arisen, contact us. At PSICOTOOLS we offer psychotherapy services to overcome the sources of emotional discomfort that affect you individually, as well as the marital or dating crises that affect couples. Además, atendemos tanto de manera presencial como por videollamada a través de la modalidad online.
- Burton, N. (2015). Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions. United Kingdom: Acheron Press.
- Mathes, E. (1991). A Cognitive Theory of Jealousy. The Psychology of Jealousy and Envy. New York: Guilford Press.
- Parrott, W.G.; Smith, R. H. (1993). Distinguishing the experiences of envy and jealousy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 64 (6): 906 - 920.
- Shackelford, T.K.; Voracek, M.; Schmitt, D.P.; Buss, D.M.; Weekes-Shackelford, V.A.; Michalski, R.L. (2004). Romantic jealousy in early adulthood and in later life. Human Nature. 15 (3): 283 - 300.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)