Jealousy in Relationships
Jealousy the green-eyed monster can quickly destroy a relationship. It gets in the way of an emotional connection replacing it with insecurity, paranoia and lack of trust.
There are two common focusses of jealousy. Firstly, that of the past, referred to as Retrospective Jealousy usually on previous sexual experiences with ex partners before the current relationship started. The other are fears that their partner is or will seek, encourage or welcome attention from rivals.
It’s not uncommon to feel some pangs of jealousy when a partner reveals past sexual history or someone else shows interest in their partner. Especially during the first eighteen months or so of the relationship. This being the bonded stage.
When situations like this arise in securely attached relationships, the feelings do not emotionally flood the person. Both individuals can talk about the situation and give each other reassurance. Feelings of relationship security and a sense of I’m OK, You’re OK are maintained.
When morbid jealousy occurs then it becomes obsessive and all consuming. Thoughts about a partners past sexual encounters are a constant pressure. These tend to focus on the imagined sexual prowess of the other person or the imagined enjoyment and recollection of your partner.
Additionally, when the partner talks to someone else or another person looks or engages with them, this raises unfounded alarm bells.
Thoughts become ruminations going round and round. Unfounded beliefs are held such as your partner is still thinking about an ex or comparing you to them. This highlights the negative thoughts about self and not being good enough compared with others. There is a deep seated insecurity.
The morbidly jealous person reacts with physically and emotionally withdrawing, not talking about the real issue. Instead complaining how they have been hurt by the other and doesn’t really love them.
Contrasted by anger accusing the other person of being sexually immoral and provocative. Displayed with shouting, threatening and accusing and can be accompanied with intimidation.
Sometimes this develops into rage. Displays of vitriol, contempt and cohersive control in an attempt to subjugate their partner. In extreme situations physical attacks may be made on the other and this can lead to physical injury, emotional trauma and death.
A morbidly jealous person may push their partner to live together, get married, have children or anything that cements the relationship in their mind. In reality this is creating a prison for the partner.
Breaking the Hold of Jealousy
Reasons for the reactions lie with the jealous person. Look at their past and there will sometimes be a history of being neglected or over protected, jealous behaviours witnessed growing up, sexual abuse, death of a care, parents breaking up giver etc.
First steps include the jealous person recognising and accepting they have a problem. Importantly owning and taking responsibility for their behaviours and not laying fault at the feet of their partners.
Individual counselling is necessary for the person to gain awareness and insight into their jealous compulsion. Understanding why they are so fearful and threatened by the adult autonomy of their partner will allow them to develop self-regulation and self-dependency rather dependency/control.
For those who have a moderately jealous partner then counselling can help you understand and learn to talk to your partner about their fears and insecurities. Stuck in a morbidly jealous relationship then individual counselling can help with how to leave that insecure relationship and avoid repeating the same pattern in the future.