Thursday, 26 January 2017

Jealousy is a beast

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, jealousy is always going to crop up from time to time. You may be more than happy with your life but someone will always have more, be looking at your partner "the wrong way" or be "prettier" than you. What matters is, is how we deal with this beast of an emotion. And this is especially important in terms of your mental health and your relationships.

Jealousy can creep into the happiest of relationships, with the potential to destroy them. It can break down the trust that you spent years to build or that came so naturally to you both. But, sometimes it just hits you. Imagine this:

Your partner is telling you a funny story which includes a former flame of theirs. You feel threatened. The anger and anxiety begins to rise inside you. You get a tight pang in your stomach. And you're sitting there, wondering what to do next and why the hell he's telling you a story about HER.

We've all experienced it. Maybe you give him the cold shoulder for a while. Maybe you ask him directly why he's talking about her. Has he been thinking about her? He gets defensive, because he hasn't done anything wrong here. Then the argument erupts. You shout. He shouts.

A few hours later, you realise how stupid you were to get so jealous and envious over something so silly. You apologise. He forgives you and all is well again.

But it happens again... Maybe it's the other way around this time. But it ticks and ticks away at you both, damaging your relationship and trust each time.

You still remember that time you were jealous of him talking about someone else. Sometimes it's randomly pops into your head. "Does he find her more attractive than me?" "Is he getting bored of me?" "Can he do better than me?" It can destroy your confidence and take you to a really low place. Even leading to depression and anxiety. He also has these similar thoughts. "Why did she get so angry and defensive? Is she cheating on me?"

Some people even begin to use jealousy as a coping strategy to avoid surprise. You push your partner away in order to defend yourself, because you know he can do better and he will do better. Maybe he is already doing better and cheating on you. The anxiety eats you away at you every day and eventually you end up destroying the relationship.

All this over a small mention of an ex... Silly huh? So, what can you do?

Stop comparing yourself to others. So, there's this hot girl at his work that he's mentioned a few times. You look her up online. She's pretty. So, (of course), you start comparing yourself to her. Hating her. Getting jealous every time you see her or a picture of her. Every time he mentions her name.

Just remember this: He fell in love with you. He's with you. So, she has better hair than you? He seems to find her funnier than you? So what? He probably finds his best mate Bill down the road funnier than you too, but you're not jealous of him are you?

Life is too short to be wasting away comparing every little detail of someone else in yourself. You're you. And your partner is with you because they love all those little things about yourself that you hate. Stop giving yourself a hard time because you're not "perfect". News flash.... It doesn't exist.

Stop confusing imagination and reality. Imagination is a wonderful thing, but when it's used in a destructive way (which is what jealousy does), it is potentially very destructive.

Imagine this: Your partner is late home from work. You call him and there's no answer. Your imagination then goes into overdrive. You begin making up all these scenarios in your head. He's gone for an intimate drink with that girl from work. Their in the office laughing and joking around, losing track of time. He's forgotten you. He's not coming home tonight because he doesn't love you.

You become upset. Angry. Scared. All without any real evidence.

Then he walks through the door. He apologises for being late, he was stuck in traffic and his phone had died. You think "oh, what a coincidence." You act weird around him. You're distant. He finally questions why you are acting weird and then comes the outburst of anger and cries at what "he's done". In his eyes, he was just stuck in traffic...

What's important to do here is to recognise when you're imagination is going into destructive overdrive. Remember what's real and what's in your imagination. Bring yourself back to reality and rationalise all those scenarios. Even explain to him what you're feeling, why you're feeling jealous. Rationalising this situation is pretty easy - he was stuck in traffic but couldn't contact you because ER, IT'S ILLEGAL?

Don't just accuse him of something you've made up in your head.

Don't be jealous of what "could" happen. He's out with "the lads" this Friday night. He's going up town and has booked a hotel. You say, yeah that's cool, I'll invite the girls round. THEN suddenly, all these questions start circling round in your head. "Why hasn't he invited me? Why has he booked a hotel? Is it really the lads or are there girls going to be there? What if he gets drunk and brings a girl back to his hotel room? What if he's really going out with a girl for the night and he has booked them a hotel? What if he's having an affair? What if he's going to propose to her tonight?"

This sounds crazy right? But this is what jealousy can do. And if you feel yourself thinking like this, TALK TO HIM and RATIONALISE. It can be easy to get like this and become jealous that he's out having fun without you. The best thing you can do is explain how you're feeling to him, calmly and maturely. He's probably felt like this before and will understand how you can both overcome this. For example, maybe he'll take you out one evening this week for a nice meal. Or he'll promise to call when he's back at his hotel to say goodnight to put your mind at rest from worrying.

You and your partner are a team after all, don't forget that.

Forget all your old relationship baggage. Someone cheated on you in the past? It's understandable that you're going to be worried that this may happen again, but you will never be happy if this weight is constantly hanging over you. Of course, at the beginning it's hard to learn to trust and put that disloyalty to rest, but that's in the past. If you want a future with your current partner, you need to open up.

This is obviously easier said than done. But communicating your feelings with your current partner is the best way to overcome this. Be open with him about your past and the hurt you feel, how you're scared this could happen again. You can work through this together, rather than alone.

Believe you deserve to be loved. Some (not all) jealousy is driven by low-self esteem. "How could they love me?" "I don't deserve them!" "How could they be attracted to me?!" We're not supposed to understand why somebody loves us, but they do, so accept it. We all deserve to be loved and to find love. Every single one of us. You're in love, he's in love - hang on to it! It can take some of us our whole lives to find the one, if you think you've found it now, just bloody enjoy it.

It's all about communication really. Tell him how you're feeling and you can work through it. Me and Chris have had problems with this in the past and I can assure you, communicating was the first step forward for us.

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