I have learned to understand and manage my (once extreme) jealousy since my partner and I opened up our relationship, which is why I wanted to provide some information on how to manage jealousy.
Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, it is important to have a handle on how you manage and express your jealousy.
Hopefully these ideas are helpful to you, too.
1. Accept jealousy as a common emotion.
It’s important to overcome jealousy as you would other challenging emotions, like anger or frustration.
Use coping mechanisms that work for you (exercise, sleep, meditation, prayer, being in nature, journaling, talking) to manage your feelings.
When feelings of jealousy turn into possessive and controlling behaviors, you have allowed your feelings to take an unhealthy turn and you need to take a serious step back.
2. Understand where your feelings of jealousy come from.
Jealousy is a complex emotion and root emotions can be: fear, envy, exclusion, competition and inadequacy.
Identifying what exactly you are feeling can be extremely helpful in getting the support you need from yourself and your partner(s) to manage your feelings.
For example, you could be feeling in competition with someone or feeling fearful you will be left.
Working on your self-esteem and confidence can be one of the most effective things you can do to diminish feelings of jealousy.
Predict or experiment with manageable and unmanageable levels of jealousy.
Sometimes jealousy can feel like a little twinge and then it goes away. Other times it can cause systemic physical reactions and it can take a significant amount of time to return to your normal mental state.
Figure out what levels you can manage on your own and what levels you need extra support with.
“Working on your self-esteem can be one of
the most effective things you can do.”
3. The barrier method.
This involves erecting barriers around the situations that cause jealousy for you.
For example, if you experience jealousy when you see your partner kiss another person or when they spend the night with another, the solution would be to simply say, “No (more) kissing in front of me or no (more) sleepovers with other people.”
This approach, while simple, tends to be more rigid and doesn’t allow you to grow as much by challenging your jealous feelings.
Remember to retain open lines of communication with your partner so you both feel like you can renegotiate boundaries.
4. The phobia model.
This is another approach that involves desensitizing yourself to situations that typically cause you to experience jealousy.
For example, if the thought of your partner sleeping over at another’s home is incredibly difficult for you to manage, you can (with your partner) slowly increase your exposure and comfort with the situation.
You might get used to your partner having longer and longer dates and set a date you agree to try to manage the sleepover.
Then evaluate how the experience went for you and if the process helped you manage your jealousy effectively and reasonably or not.
This approach is complex, takes time and constant communication with your partner(s) and requires that you engage in conscious self-awareness and self-growth.
If you are the one with a jealous partner, ask your partner exactly what is bothering them so you can give them the best support possible.
Support can take the form of emotional reassurance, physical or sexual intimacy, date nights or being open to renegotiating boundaries.
Many excellent and extensive guides to managing jealousy in open relationships exist, and I encourage you to start with Tristan Taormino’s “Opening Up” and Kathy Labriola’s “Love in Abundance.”
Readers, how have you managed jealousy in your relationships?
Photo source: bp.blogspot.com.