Dr. Nina W. Brown, author of Coping with Your Partner’s Jealousy, explains why jealousy is so damaging to a relationship and how to deal with a jealous partner.
Q: How can jealousy be corrosive to a relationship?
A: Jealousy is corrosive to relationships; it is never helpful for meaningful, satisfying or enduring relationships, as these are built and sustained on trust between the parties. Jealousy is triggered by that person’s fears of abandonment, of being inadequate and not good enough. It is often connected or associated with unresolved issues, unfinished business, and experiences from the family of origin and other (past) relationships which, on an unconscious level, are being projected onto the person in a current relationship.
The fears that are aroused can be very intense, overwhelming and scary, so that the person must get rid of them as soon as possible. In doing this, the feelings are made to be the other person’s responsibility, so that the jealous partner does not have to consider themselves as imperfect or shameful. Jealousy is more about the jealous person than it is about the other person in the relationship.
Q: What are some of the signs that your partner’s jealousy has become destructive?
A: You feel smothered and are constantly on edge. You try harder to reassure him/her of your devotion, fidelity and so on, with no success. You distance yourself from family and friends. You’re constantly alert to his/her every mood, expression and the like, and you become more isolated and fearful.
Q: Any tips for dealing with a jealous partner?
A: 1. Accept that you will never be able to supply enough of the needed reassurance so that he/she will not need to be jealous.
2. Do not deliberately act in a manner designed to trigger jealousy as a way to reassure yourself of your importance to the person. This is dishonest.
3. Get counselling to help you decide if this is a constructive and healthy relationship for you.
4. Contact a Women’s Centre that handles domestic issues for advice and suggestions.