9 keys to understanding jealousy and learning to overcome it


The model of romantic love, still today, is present in the concept of what a relationship should be like. Many of the myths of romantic love include erroneous beliefs about jealous behavior, assuming that jealousy is a sign of love, an indicator of “true” love and even an essential condition of it. In the same way that his absence would be a lack of love: “he who is not jealous of his partner is because he does not really love her.”

It is observed how these myths are present in people through dysfunctional thoughts about what love is, relationships and how they work, maintaining unhealthy ways of relating as a couple and full of interactions with a high toxic content.

In fact, even today it is not uncommon to see how in fictional stories romantic relationships are normalized in which there are strong conflicts due to jealousy, or in which a person treats their partner as if they were belonging to the that you should keep away from potential “competitors”.

This link between the model of romantic love and jealousy is increasingly being questioned, and it is no wonder: Behind the behavior of people who are very jealous of their partner there are problems that cannot be ignored. Let’s see what they are, and several tips about what to do in these cases.

4 problems that can be behind jealousy in a relationship

Some of the psychological factors or sources of discomfort that can make jealousy emerge in a relationship have to do with coexistence and the way in which both people relate and communicate, while others are individual in nature, or they may be explained by influences from the social context.

1. The hegemonic paradigm of romantic love

One of the aspects that most favors the appearance of jealousy in a relationship is that, simply, It has been learned that this desire to control the other is the only way to love that exists.

It is a retrograde vision of what it means to love someone, there is a desire for possession to minimize the risk of “going with other people.” It is a contradictory and erroneous idea in which it is understood that jealousy is proportional to the intensity with which you love, but at the same time you do not trust the other person and it is assumed that the affective bond is weak enough to have to be restricting the freedom of the other to make it work.

However, jealousy is not a sign of love, but rather an element capable of wearing down the relationship and damaging the well-being of both those who experience it in the first person and those who receive this kind of behavior. Love doesn’t have to hurt through that desire to have the other person for yourself.

2. Social pressure and rigidity regarding gender roles

This is a problem closely linked to the previous one: For some people, anything that breaks traditional gender roles can be a sign that something is wrong., and that rejection will be experienced by others if things do not “get back on track.” That is, there are people who are not even genuinely jealous, but act jealous to conform to certain schemes of how a relationship is supposed to be.

3. Low self-esteem and emotional dependence

Jealousy often stems from low self-esteem problems. The jealous person’s dependence on his partner indicates that there is a certain inability to love himself.

Feeling self-conscious, dissatisfied with one’s physical appearance, having feelings of inferiority and personal insecurity causes thoughts of “anyone can be more valid than me” to appear in the jealousy and thus suppose a rival in their relationship. These personality characteristics increase jealous behaviors, mistrust and concern for the fidelity of the partner, generating suffering for the jealous person as well as their partner and the relationship.

4. Traumatic experiences and dependence of psychopathological roots

In certain cases, jealousy is actually panic to be alone, since the relationship is seen as a balm that helps to hide the discomfort we feel with our own life. In such cases, the priority is not so much to strengthen the relationship as to treat these individual psychological problems in the first place.

5 guidelines to overcome these problems

Follow these guidelines to solve problems that go hand in hand with partner jealousy.

1. Rule out the possibility of abuse

The first thing to do is to identify whether jealousy is violating the freedoms of one of the people involved in the relationship, either through serious manipulation attempts, constant emotional blackmail, etc. These types of behaviors are a serious problem that, if they are very present in the relationship, can take the form of a type of abuse (it should not be forgotten that physical abuse is not the only one that exists).

This is a task that must be done individually, so that our perception of the facts is not conditioned or eclipsed by the ideas of the other person. In the event that you are already in a dynamic of abuse, it is very important to cut the relationship and not stay in it to try to “fix” it.

2. Identify possible asymmetries in the externalization of jealousy

Another aspect that will determine the way in which jealousy problems must be addressed is if these are always externalized by a person or if they are given mutually. If there are clear asymmetries in this regard, it must be clear that there is a party that must try to repair the damage done without expecting special “compensation” for it. If they occur in both people, both must commit to repair the damage to the extent possible.

3. Establish the red lines that cannot be crossed

Every couple relationship must leave margin of individual freedom to those who participate in themBut sometimes this seemingly simple idea is overlooked.

That is why it is necessary to make this value of individual freedom explicit in one or more conversations: talk about situations in which it is not logical to renounce certain decisions or actions just so as not to upset the other person, giving examples, but always from a constructive mentality and without seeking to “attack” the other. Remember that if you are doing this, it is not to make the other person feel bad, but to improve the quality of the relationship and your well-being in it.

4. Establish a list of situations in which jealousy weighs down the relationship

Take at least one occasion to identify five to ten (or ten to twenty, if jealousy occurs in both) common situations in which jealousy appears and is a problem. Write them down and order them according to the discomfort they cause each one of you. Then, for each situation, write down at least two typical phrases that the jealous person uses to express that discomfort. In that way it will be easier to identify situations like this in the future, and both of you will be more clear that you do not have to give in to those kinds of feelings.

5. Go or go to psychotherapy

Psychological therapy services They can be adapted both to cases in which only one of the people involved in the relationship is jealous, and to those in which there is jealousy on both sides. Through personalized attention it is possible to identify the underlying problem and intervene on it, promoting new habits, new ways of communicating and relating, and new ways of thinking and interpreting reality. In this way, it is much easier to achieve changes for the better, which are maintained over time and reinforce the love relationship.

Do you want to have professional psychological help in the face of jealousy in the couple?

If you are in a relationship where problems associated with jealousy have arisen, get in touch with us. In PSYCHOTOOLS We offer both psychotherapy services to overcome the sources of emotional distress that affect you individually, such as marital or dating crises that affect couples. In addition, we attend both in person and by video call through the online mode.

Bibliographic references:

  • Burton, N. (2015). Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions. United Kingdom: Acheron Press.
  • Mathes, E. (1991). A Cognitive Theory of Jealousy. The Psychology of Jealousy and Envy. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Parrott, WG; Smith, RH (1993). Distinguishing the experiences of envy and jealousy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 64 (6): 906-920.
  • Shackelford, TK; Voracek, M .; Schmitt, DP; Buss, DM; Weekes-Shackelford, VA; Michalski, RL (2004). Romantic jealousy in early adulthood and in later life. Human Nature. 15 (3): 283-300.

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