Although jealousy is associated with a lot of negativity and everyone knows how destructive this feeling can be, it’s a natural emotion, and sometimes, it may even impact relationships in a positive way.
Is jealousy healthy in a relationship? The answer depends on many factors. In short, yes — jealousy in relationships can be healthy, and sometimes, it may even make relationships stronger. However, it’s a complex emotion, and people may experience it for different reasons.
For instance, jealousy can be rooted in personal insecurities and low self-esteem. In this case, uncontrollable jealousy can turn into a destructive force, and the best way to deal with it is to consider therapy.
Let’s take a closer look at jealousy and think of what this feeling can tell in a relationship.
What Does Jealousy Mean?
Jealousy is a fear of potential loss. People in relationships may feel jealous when their partner is interested in another person or vice versa, or when they anticipate such interest. Sometimes, people may feel jealous without any obvious reasons, simply because of their inner insecurities.
No matter whether or not one’s jealousy is actually justified by their partner’s behavior, it can make a person feel worried and rejected, and this emotion is also closely related to one’s self-esteem and self-image. Jealousy can trigger self-doubt and undermine mutual trust, which is very important for relationships of any kind.
The feeling of jealousy has a lot in common with shame, and it tells us that there might be an obstacle to our intimate connection with the loved one. For instance, people feel jealous when they feel like there’s a threat to their relationship.
Quite often, jealousy in a relationship is rooted in social comparison. A person may be afraid that their partner gives their adoration and attention to someone else, and that the other person is more desirable.
Given that jealousy is associated with fear and threat, it often leads to defensive behavior. For example, when a person feels jealous, they may start to avoid their partner, control them, or express aggression toward the partner or toward themselves. Besides, jealousy can make you want to hurt someone who you perceive as a threat to your relationship.
Although defensive behavior is aimed at protecting one’s self-esteem and saving a relationship that’s perceived as broken, it can lead to various negative consequences for the relationship, as well as the person’s mental well-being.
For instance, when someone starts to avoid their partner because of jealousy, they may engage in unhealthy behavior, such as alcohol and drug use, in order to cope with a feeling of loneliness. Damaged self-esteem may also lead to anxiety and depression, while aggression towards others may result in abuse.
Although jealousy can have a significant negative impact on relationships, it’s nevertheless a natural emotion, and people in healthy relationships may also experience jealousy from time to time. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy jealousy.
What Healthy Jealousy Looks Like
Healthy jealousy can make a relationship stronger and motivate both partners to talk openly about their feelings and insecurities.
Here are the signs of healthy jealousy:
We’ve already mentioned that jealousy can negatively affect trust. When people feel jealous, they may distance themselves from their partners and keep their emotions a secret. However, to share their emotions with their partner, the person who feels jealous should first acknowledge these emotions.
Understanding the reasons behind jealousy
Understanding the reasons behind jealousy can be a difficult and time-consuming process. However, you won’t be able to deal with your emotions and see the bigger picture unless you figure out why you feel this way.
As we’ve already mentioned above, jealousy can be rooted in low self-esteem and insecurities. In this case, figuring out its reasons can also help you improve your overall emotional well-being. Relationship counseling can help you figure out whether or not your jealousy is justified and find its causes.
Jealousy in a relationship can be healthy when partners openly discuss their feelings. It’s also important to express your feelings in the right way, without putting blame on the partner right away.
For example, if you want to tell your partner about your emotions, the best solution is to start your sentences with “I feel” or “I think,” therefore acknowledging the subjectiveness of your emotions.
Jealousy is a strong feeling, and the way you react to it can strengthen or weaken your relationship. Only you can control your feelings, and if you don’t take responsibility for them, you may start to blame your partner and try to control them instead. Speak up about your feelings and figure out the causes of your jealousy.
Avoiding responsibility is one of the distinctive features of toxic relationships. However, when it comes to jealousy, it can be difficult to take responsibility for your feelings. Therapy can help you better understand your emotions and learn to manage them.
If you’ve never visited a therapist and don’t know what to expect from your sessions, you can learn more about the benefits of therapy you may not be aware of.
What Can Jealousy Tell in a Relationship?
1. You feel flirtatious vibes between your partner and someone else
One of the most common reasons why people feel jealous is when someone else is flirting with their partner. Flirting may not necessarily be openly sexual. For instance, someone may keep eye contact with your partner for too long or be overly enthusiastic in a conversation, taking your partner’s attention from you.
Besides, even if your partner doesn’t engage in flirting but keeps communication so that they won’t look rude, both you and the other person may misinterpret this as a sign of sympathy. In this case, the best approach is not to focus on your jealousy but acknowledge it.
You may join the conversation and switch it to a new direction, and you can also tell your partner that their interaction with the other person makes you feel uncomfortable. Communicate your expectations so that your partner can understand what makes you feel this way.
2. Your partner is more successful than you
Jealousy is closely connected to one’s self-esteem. If your partner is more successful than you or if you’re dealing with some difficulties while your partner accomplishes ambitious goals, this might negatively affect your self-esteem.
As a result, you may start to feel that you’re not good enough for your partner and experience jealousy. Keep in mind that jealousy in a relationship is only healthy as long as you’re open about your feelings because if you hide them from your partner, they may only get stronger and more destructive.
Therefore, the best solution is to address your emotions and tell your partner how you feel. For instance, they may not know about some of your struggles so they won’t understand how you may feel when they tell you about their accomplishments. If you need support or reassurance of their love, don’t hesitate to tell them about it.
3. You don’t know something about your partner
You might also feel jealous if someone else tells you something about your partner that you didn’t know. For instance, you may learn that your partner is a good dancer or used to play for a college football team. Even if this information has nothing to do with your relationship, you may feel upset that your partner didn’t tell you about it.
In this case, a healthy approach is to be straightforward and ask your partner why they didn’t tell you this. They could simply forget about it or think that it’s not important.
At the same time, you should respect your partner’s right to privacy. Don’t demand that they share all the details of their life with you so that you won’t be overly controlling.
4. You want to be part of your partner’s experiences
You may experience jealousy in a relationship if your partner travels or does other activities without you. In this case, make sure to express your interest in these activities and tell your partner how you feel. They may not know that you also like this sort of activity unless you tell them about it.
5. You want more attention from your partner
If you feel jealous whenever your partner spends time with their friends or colleagues, the chances are that you would like them to pay more attention to you and spend more time together.
First of all, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns and needs. Secondly, don’t force your partner to spend every minute with you. Discuss this issue and make sure that both of you are heard. Make each other’s comfort your priority and find a solution that will satisfy both of you.
Jealousy in a relationship shouldn’t necessarily be a destructive force. When partners feel jealous, it means that they are attached to their loved ones and are afraid to lose them. Jealousy is a natural feeling so the best solution is to be open about your emotions, without avoiding your partner or acting in an aggressive way.
To prevent jealousy from becoming toxic, put some effort into honest communication. Of course, it may not be easy for you to talk about your emotions, and sometimes, it can be difficult to understand where they come from.
In this case, the best solution is to consider therapy. A licensed therapist can help you figure out the reasons behind your jealousy and learn how to express your feelings in a healthy way.
While not everyone has enough time to visit a therapist’s office, online therapy platforms like Calmerry allow you to get the necessary help and support from virtually anywhere.