“Hey. What’s up? What are you doing right now?” This question can have a couple different intentions. It can be an innocent. Your partner is texting you because they love you and care about what you are up to. It can also be controlling. They are texting you the same question for the 10th time today because they don’t trust you. It doesn’t take long to figure out when your boyfriend or girlfriend has jealousy issues.
A little jealousy in the relationship is normal. You may feel a little put out about girl’s night out or a night with the guys, but overall it is a healthy form of missing the one you love. You aren’t really worried that something is going to happen while they are out, but you secretly hope all the people of the opposite sex are really ugly that night. For the most part, you feel pretty confident even when you aren’t with them.
Romantic jealousy starts when someone lacks trust. This becomes obvious because they won’t be satisfied with one answer and they become impatient if you don’t answer right away. A jealous person feels out of control. How they try to regain control is by checking up on you. The only problem with this is that no one can reassure another person. For example if you believe you are fat and someone says you look thin, you won’t believe them. You will bounce that comment right off your insecure belief system. It is the same thing when you try to reassure someone who has trust issues. They can’t believe you. So they ask in many different ways because the first five answers didn’t satisfy them. (By the way, the only person who can reassure you is YOU)
Jealousy gives a person a form of obsessive compulsive disorder. They have fears about losing you to someone else. At first that fear may be rational. Nothing in life is guaranteed. So of course they may worry at first that the relationship will break up. Or if they have been cheated on they worry it will happen again. After awhile instead of feeling more confident in the relationship, they start to feel even more worried that you will leave. Their fear grows and become obsessions that they can’t let go of. They try to deal with it by controlling the situation which means, controlling you. They can’t help asking you where you have been, what you’ve been doing, and who you’ve been with over and over. It is frustrating to date someone like this. The other problem is that most people who are jealous can’t admit they have this form of anxiety. They truly believe YOU must be doing something that is causing them to feel this way. So they feel justified in questioning you, following you, and showing up to places uninvited. They believe you owe them this because you’ve caused them to worry.
Unfortunately this person is trying so hard to keep you but their actions are probably pushing you away. So you end up spending less time with this person. That makes them even more desperate. It can become a vicious cycle. You have to focus on what you can control, which is yourself. If you constantly set boundaries and they cross them, try to explain how this is affecting you. You can be upfront about what boundaries you need and explain how you want to feel trusted. You can explain what your actions will be if boundaries continue to be crossed. If you have been honest in the relationship you can point out that their fears are unfounded and hopefully get them to recognize their own anxiety.
The natural instinct is to answer their ongoing questions in order to reassure them. This usually makes their obsessions worse instead of better. They have to admit and believe they have certain fears, be able to face them one step at a time and learn how to reassure themselves. I’ve told my clients in the past that it is easier to learn to control yourself than to try to control another person. Most people with jealous obsessions need counseling to learn how to face their fear and build confidence in themselves and the relationship. They also learn how to reassure themselves instead of seeking it from you. They will learn not to text you, call you, or follow you to get reassurance and be okay with you not responding if they slip up in their anxiety. I have found that people with anxiety will only accept boundaries if they have learned about why they are so important.
Hopefully they will get help. If they don’t, the best thing you can do is stick to your boundaries and try to stay calm. If you get upset and emotional, it won’t help either of you. They may continue to blame you and this may make you feel defensive. Take a step back and remember that their jealousy isn’t about you. If you haven’t done anything to violate their trust then they would be jealous no matter who they dated. You can continue let them know how it is affecting you and ask them to get help, but that is about all you can control. If they become abusive, please seek your own help to learn how to best cope with this. It may come to a point that the relationship ends if they can’t take responsibility. Remember that you have choices and need to take care of yourself too!