How to Deal With Jealousy When You’re Dating
By Abigail Glasgow
Unless you’re superhuman, you’ve likely bumped into jealousy while dating. Whether you’re just beginning to see someone or you’ve been in a committed relationship for a while, jealousy has a tendency to manifest in all of us. It’s normal, but according to dating coach Tennesha Wood, “jealousy becomes a problem when it’s consistent, progressive, and starts to become a focus in the relationship.”
And even though it’s a feeling we can’t necessarily fully control, sometimes we need to get it in check in order to have healthy and happy relationships. So we turned to the experts to tell us how to deal with jealousy.
Get to the root of it
The first step to getting over your jealousy is acknowledging the discomfort you’re experiencing. The second is asking yourself why you’re feeling that way, which can lead to a concrete action plan for how to deal with your emotions.
Rather than overanalyzing the actions of the person you’re dating, interrogate your own feelings. Get out a journal and focus your thoughts on where your jealousy is coming from by asking yourself “why” until you get to the root of it. According to sex and dating expert Iman Hariri-Kia, this process might look like asking yourself, “why does it bother me that my partner was talking to someone else? Is it because I don’t trust them?” Or “Why am I comparing myself to my partner’s ex? Is it because I’m concerned they’re still hung up on their past relationship? Is it because I want to be more involved in my partner’s life and vice versa?” Once you can see what exactly is informing your jealousy, you can deal with it head on.
Communicate your feelings
After you figure out where your jealousy is coming from, it might not be something that you can resolve on your own. If you’re in a committed relationship, Iman recommends having “an open and honest discussion with your partner, using ‘I’ statements about how you feel, rather than ‘you’ statements rooted in accusation.” If you feel your partner is closed off to the conversation or doesn’t think your feelings are valid, you may want to ask yourself if this is someone you want to be in a relationship with.
If you’re newly dating someone or just getting to know them, it’s a little trickier—you might not be ready to tell them how you’re feeling on a third date. Instead, you can figure out what you need from the other person to feel less jealous, and communicate that. Wondering when you’ll next see your new love interest? Text them proposing a date for your next meet up. If you’ve realized that insecurity about where the relationship is going is at the core of your jealousy, have a conversation with your match about how they’re feeling and if they want to move forward. If you get a solid answer or the reassurance you’re seeking, hopefully the jealousy will dissolve. But if your date isn’t receptive to your needs, or doesn’t want to engage in an honest conversation, then it might be a sign that you’re not a match.
Use a coping strategy
Sometimes, jealousy can be irrational, and thinking it through or communicating it just doesn’t work, especially when it’s connected to an insecurity. When that’s the case, Wood suggests making a list of the qualities you love about yourself when jealousy first appears, particularly when you’re getting to know a match. Use this list as a reminder that you’re a good catch, and that you deserve the best in a potential partner. You can also share how you feel with a friend. “Talking to a trusted friend can help you to put things into perspective and see the full picture,” Wood shares. If all else fails, try to find ways of distracting yourself; maybe that involves blasting 90s music or going on a long walk with friends—whatever you can do to get some distance from those jealous feelings.
Recognize that jealousy is sometimes valid
There’s also the possibility that you have a legitimate reason for feeling jealous. “Jealousy is our brain’s way of telling us something is afoot,” Hariri-Kia says. And while some of these thoughts are entirely internal, it could also indicate that your partner or date is doing something to make you feel jealous. If they aren’t receptive to communication about their actions and are unwilling to help make you feel more secure in the relationship, you two might not be a fit and it may be time to move on.
Jealousy doesn’t have to be a roadblock in your relationships. When it next appears, remember these tactics for navigating the negative feelings. Dating can be giddy and sexy and curious— don’t let something like jealousy bar you from taking in those precious moments.