Life Support: How to deal with jealousy

Essential Skills for the Modern World


Rein it in


Jealousy is a natural, almost inescapable part of romantic relationships. The trick is making sure that it doesn't play more than a bit part. Flying into a jealous rage every five minutes is exhausting for all concerned, and will do nothing to improve your relationship's chances – in fact, it might hasten the end of the very thing you are trying to protect.

Be rational

Romantic jealousy usually stems from a perceived threat to a relationship. A good first step is to try to ascertain if this threat is real or imagined, while remembering that the jealous mind is very quick to take small things and blow them out of all proportion. For evidence of this – and of the potentially terrible consequences of jealousy – we need look no further than Shakespeare's Othello, who takes a misplaced handkerchief as proof that his loyal wife has been unfaithful, and kills her.

Work on your self-esteem

Jealousy, and the accompanying feelings of anxiety and suspicion, are closely linked to insecurity. A 2008 study found that short men were more prone to jealousy than their taller counterparts, suggesting that taller men were more confident of their status, and thus less worried about threats from potential love rivals. Taking steps to improve your self-esteem can help to ward off jealousy. These can be as simple as trying not to think negative thoughts about yourself, focusing on your strengths, and spending time with friends who make you feel good.

Reassure

While dealing with a jealous partner can be wearing, have patience, as the right reaction can often diffuse potential jealousy. If there are triggers for your partner's jealousy, try to avoid them. Also remember that although your partner may be behaving like a raving loony, jealousy is born out of love, so try to reassure your partner rather than being defensive.

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