Communication: If you’re feeling jealous, communicate these feelings to your partner. If she is at all tuned in, it’s likely that she is already aware. Take responsibility for your own emotions, especially when you might not be very proud of these feelings. Problem-solve how you want to cope with jealous feelings, and mutually agree on boundaries within the relationship to build trust.
Boundaries: Being in a healthy, happy relationship requires communicating your needs and balancing them with the needs of your partner. Remember, what you put into a relationship will return back to you. If your partner feels respected by you, they’ll be more likely to act respectfully towards you and your relationship. Clearly discuss what behaviors you both feel comfortable with when spending time with other people. Is it OK for you to give your ex a hug and a kiss? Does your touchy-feely friend make your girlfriend uncomfortable? Does your co-worker make inappropriate comments in front of your partner? These are all examples of things that should be discussed if they make you or your girlfriend uncomfortable. Once you have identified some sore subjects, agree upon how you’ll address the offending behavior. This might mean having an awkward conversation with a friend, family member or co-worker. I clearly remember an incident with my partner years ago in which a mutual friend left repeated, suggestive voicemails on her phone. I expressed my discomfort about the messages to my partner who placed an icky-awkward call to our friend. Needless to say the messages ceased, as did our friendship with her, and our jealous-free relationship resumed. Clearly defining boundaries increases awareness and limits ambiguities, so both parties understand their own behavior and how it impacts their partner.
Be reasonable: If your jealousy drives you to limit your partner’s time with others, tread very cautiously. Other warning signs of unhealthy jealous behaviors include, aggressive behavior, threats, coercion, physical intimidation or any other controlling behavior that influences your partner (to name a few). This is not only abusive; it reduces trust and respect in the relationship, which will inevitably deteriorate the relationship. It is ultimately your responsibility to own your jealous emotions; it is only a (wise) consideration that your partner tempers their behavior. After all you cannot control what anyone else does or thinks. If your jealousy is so overwhelming that you feel as if you’ve lost control of your actions or have become abusive, or if you are being abused, please get help. Call 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) for resources in your community.
The Attention Trap: Do you find yourself enjoying the attention you get from your partner when you make them jealous? Does it excite you or make you feel more desired? Well as a relationship coach I can tell you unequivocally: Knock it off. Don’t test the boundaries. If there is no reason that your partner needs to worry, but you enjoy seeing them get jealous, find a new avenue to gain attention. Jealousy over long periods of time will cause conflict and can reduce trust. If you or your partner keep creating situations that incite jealousy, a therapist or relationship coach may be beneficial in creating healthy boundaries and avenues for communication.
Increase Self-Esteem: It is important to occasionally take note and acknowledge your attributes. What special qualities do you bring to the relationship? We are all unique and creative beings, what is your talent? A healthy self-esteem is a cornerstone of a healthy relationship. If you feel good about yourself then it’s probable that you won’t be someone who exhibits destructive, attention-seeking qualities. Insecurities are the seed of jealousy. By spending quality time enhancing your own self-worth, you will have more to offer your relationship and will realize your true potential.
In closing, remember that if you keep jealousy in the healthy range it can function as a sign that you care about your partner. Jealousy is a normal part of life; what’s important is how you respond to it. Will you allow it to be a destructive force or a learning experience from which your relationship can grow? If you find that you simply can’t get past your own insecurities or jealousy, consider enlisting the help of relationship guru, Dr. Frankie of Little Gay Book!
For more information and if you’re wondering how jealous you are of your partner, check out the Jealousy Test for Lesbians at Psychology Today: http://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=1314