Does your jealousy have a pattern?
Or maybe you're experiencing full blown jealousy for the first time in your life.
Maybe you're sitting down, reading this article about jealousy because your partner has put their foot down and said: "either you get a hold of your jealousy or I won't be dealing with it anymore!"
Maybe it's your partner who's about to tear both you AND the love apart.
Whether you recognise yourself in the above or might be reading this for a completely different 5th reason, you CAN do something about your jealousy.
You often feel powerless over jealousy. That you have absolutely no control over when you get jealous.
At least that's what it feels like, right?
Try doing the jealousy pattern exercise.
First you need to sit down comfortably and have one hour at your disposal.
Then think back about all the situations where you've experienced jealousy in some form or another in your current relationship. When jealousy has been a real problem.
Write down all of times where your jealousy got the best of you. All the times you can POSSIBLY think of, big and small.
Include those times you haven't told your partner about .
- My boyfriend went out with the boys on Friday and he didn't text me once during that night.
- Last Wednesday I discovered that my boyfriend had friended one of his ex's on Facebook.
- In October we went to a party at my old roommate Susanne's house and my boyfriend talked for a long time with a girl I don't know.
- He went out of town on Saturday and he spent a long time at the bar talking to the female bartender.
- When he was at a concert recently, he didn't text me as he usually does on his way home.
Finding your pattern
A pattern is something that repeats so that's what you need to start looking for. It's easier, if you have A LOT of situations and not just 5 as I've used here as examples.
In these 5, the pattern would be:
- When I'm home alone and my partner is out on town.
- When my boyfriend talks to women, I don't know, both in real life and on Facebook.
- When my boyfriend is out on town and doesn't contact me as he usually does during the evening.
Do you see how there is a repeating factor that can be dealt with to work out the jealousy and figure out how to defuse it?
Your jealous reactions
Next step is then to write down WHAT you usually do when you are faced with a situation in your pattern.
When I'm home alone and my partner is out of town.
My stomach usually hurts all night, even before he leaves the house. I can feel the jealousy rising in me from the moment he tells me he's going out but I pretend it's not there. I try to go to bed early but can't fall asleep. I text him and ask when he'll be home and get nervous when he doesn't answer right away… etc.
When my boyfriend talks to women I don't know both in real life and on Facebook.
I get mad, angry and upset with him and tell him that he'd rather be with them than me. I yell and cry.
When my boyfriend is out on town and doesn't contact me like he usually does.
I start thinking that he's forgotten about me, that he's with somebody else. I call him several times. Once I even drove around looking for him.
The trick is to be very aware of your jealousy pattern. This will make it easier to change your behaviour in the given situation.
I'm not saying that changing your behaviour will be easy or that your jealousy will necessarily decrease, only that it will be easier for you to figure out what's going on and then step by step try to change YOUR behaviour.
Strategic plan of action
So what can you SPECIFICALLY do in the jealousy situations to change YOUR behaviour?
What could a NEW and DIFFERENT reaction be next time one of these situations comes up?
In the imagined situation where I become jealous when my boyfriend is talking to other women that I don't know, I could:
- Start by asking him who she is and where he knows her from
- Introduce myself as his girlfriend.
- Think about her as a person who either means something or has meant something to him, who's bringing him joy. Other people besides me will be add value to his life without it in any way take anything away from how he values me.
- TO observe what is actually going on instead of reacting instantly. Count to one hundred and then consider whether my thoughts are true.
- "Freeze" and stand completely still and try to feel what's going on in my body. What am I feeling? What thoughts do I have? Sense how my body's reacting physically and just notice my body's own jealousy pattern of reaction in the given situation, and leave it be. Do not try to change the current state or flee out of it but stay standing and feeling. (Yes, it's difficult, but it actually won't kill you even if it might feel like that with the jealousy racing through your body).
- Leave, take a time-out and stay away until I can feel I've calmed down. (So I don't take it out on my partner!)
Maybe you'll have more ideas or your partner may have some useful suggestions.
Best of luck,
Maj Wismann, Love Expert