If you’ve ever wondered if jealousy is normal in a healthy relationship, yeah, you’re not crazy — it totally is. “If you are human, you have been jealous at some point in time,” says relationship therapist Rebecca Hendrix.
But if you’re constantly picking fights about your partner’s ex liking his Instagram pics, that might be a red flag, says Hendrix. “How much jealousy is present and how you deal with it will determine if it will wreak havoc on your relationship,” she says.
To keep jealousy from destroying everything, keep these seven things in mind next time you feel the urge to Facebook stalk your S.O.’s high school fling.
Before you go into a jealous tailspin, take a beat. “Jealousy is mostly raw feelings we get due to a perception we are having about our partner’s behavior,” explains Hendrix. Rather than confront bae when you’re agitated and reactive, let those feelings thaw a bit — take a shower (Capetonians can find an alternative!), go for a walk, or sleep on it to clear your head. If you’re still upset after giving yourself time to think it through, then bring up what’s bothering you. “Healthy couples discuss jealous feelings and move on,” says Hendrix.
2/ COME OFF THE OFFENSIVE
Rather than go into a confrontation with accusatory guns blazing, just tell your partner how you’re feeling. “If you feel your partner is flirting with someone, tell them how their actions affected you,” says Hendrix. “Own your feelings using statements like, ‘When I saw you doing this it left me feeling…’” If your partner doesn’t feel attacked, they are more apt to be curious and understanding about how the situation affected you.
3/ SET BEHAVIOR BOUNDARIES
“If your partner has an unhealthy need for attention from others that is affecting your relationship, set a boundary rather than getting jealous,” says Hendrix. “Tell your partner you want to be in a relationship with someone who has a healthy sense of self and has good boundaries with his or her friendships.”
In other words, if your S.O. is acting in a way you think is inappropriate, decide what you’re willing to put up with and make your boundaries clear. (Think: Doing lunch with his work wife is okay; texting her after hours is not.) If they cross them, it’s on them to shape up — not you to get over feeling jealous.
4/ TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR
A lot of times, jealousy can really be about you — not that coworker who wished your partner a happy birthday on Facebook — says Hendrix. “What does it mean about you that you are jealous?” she asks. “Does it mean you are feeling not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, tall enough?”
Sometimes, jealousy is totally warranted, but if you feel like deep down it may actually be about your insecurities, “set an intention to heal this part of you,” says Hendrix. Check in with a therapist, a close friend, or even a good podcast to help you let go of all those “not good enough’s” (and the jealousy that goes with them).
5/ DON’T LET OLD WOUNDS BECOME NEW RELATIONSHIP ISSUES
“If you were cheated on in your last relationship and you are having irrational feelings of jealousy in your current one, you may need to heal some residual wounds from before,” says Hendrix.
Baggage sucks, but rather than project all your ex’s bad behaviors onto your new partner, be honest about why it’s so freakin’ hard to stay calm when they occasionally talk to their ex. “Hopefully they will be understanding and they can help by giving some reassurance,” says Hendrix.
6/ DON’T LET FEAR WIN
A lot of times, jealousy = fear, says Hendrix. When you start to feel the green-eyed monster creeping in, “remind yourself of three things your partner does that make you feel loved,” Hendrix says. “Choose to feel the love in the moment versus choosing to fuel the fear.”
7. GIVE YOURSELF SOME LOVE
Real talk: Feeling jealous, regardless of the details, sucks. “It can be so easy to beat yourself up when you are feeling jealous and helpless,” says Hendrix. “But if you are hard on yourself, you are kicking yourself when you are already down — which just makes it harder to get up.”
The remedy? Show yourself some extra love. Give yourself three compliments daily, says Hendrix, to build your self-love muscle. Sounds corny, but it will help.