Jealousy isn’t necessarily a positive trait that anyone is going to brag about possessing, but I also don’t think it’s all that shameful to admit to. I’m very much a jealous person and I don’t see the point in hiding it. In fact, I use jealousy to my advantage to help improve my relationship.
It’s only an ugly emotion when it gets out of control. Jealousy is often branded the green-eyed monster because it can turn a person into a nervous and obsessive wreck, but it’s not always a bad thing. When I feel the familiar prick of jealousy, I don’t jump straight into overreacting. I listen to what it’s trying to tell me and I don’t act until I’m convinced I can see what’s really happening clearly, that way I know I’m not crazy and my partner has no choice but to listen to me.
I use it to build my character. The times when I get jealous are moments of self-reflection. I remove myself from the situation and try to see it from an outsider’s point of view. If my partner’s connection with someone else is what bothers me, I try to ask myself why. What is it about them that I feel uncomfortable about? Is there something they’re providing my partner that I can’t? Do I feel guilty about feeling this way? By the time I’m done answering these questions, I either realize I have nothing to fear or it hits me that I could be doing something better and I try to make amends.
It makes me appreciate my relationship more. Jealousy is a liar. It makes you think that you’re less than you are and it makes you doubt yourself or your partner. When I see the person I love having fun with someone else, I don’t get insecure because I know it doesn’t affect their feelings for me. I feel flattered when people hit on my partner—it validates my choice. Instead of wishing my relationship is as great as someone else’s, I remind myself of how I lucky I once felt to be dating the person I’m with, and I redirect that energy into being contentedly happy.
Jealousy motivates me to change. Sometimes what I think is jealousy is really a deeper issue manifesting itself in a weird way, so the first thing I do is try to understand is why I really feel that way. It took me a while to realize that overpowering jealousy I used to feel at even the tiniest things was a result of my crippling fear of abandonment, but it became easier to process after that and work towards letting that go. I don’t ignore jealousy, I pry it open—and my love life is better for it.
It forces me to communicate better. Jealousy lets me know when something needs to be discussed. Talking about how I feel with my partner not only helps put my mind at ease, it helps us learn more about each other. If I’m feeling neglected or disrespected, I put it out there so that we can make sense of it together. It helps me say: this how I love and how I want to be loved, and this is what I think is lacking or excessive. If it can be fixed, you’d better believe we’ll find a way to fix it.
It helps to foster implicit trust in my partner. I have to be able to believe that my partner will do right by me whether I’m present or not. There are times I’ve been angry at what I considered betrayal, times when I’ve feared being cast aside, and this is completely normal in a relationship. Rather than let it turn into a negative and destructive emotion, I use it as a way of coming to terms with my partner’s limitations and why they behave the way they do. I won’t try to limit their autonomy, I just trust them to be in control of themselves.
I acknowledge that I’m not the only good thing allowed in my partner’s life. There are times when I feel left out and I can’t wrap my head around the fact that my partner is having a good time when I’m not a part of it. It stings a little, yes, but I can’t put the pressure on myself to be their only source of happiness. They deserve a wide network of people who care immensely about them. So even when I get jealous, I still need to know that someone else has their back if I’m not there.
Building a wall around my relationship would only lead to break-ins. I learned the hard way that if you try to make too many rules, people are going to break them just so they don’t feel so suffocated. I know that if I get too possessive, I might push my partner to their limit and destroy my relationship faster than any person, job, or thing.
Whatever will be will be. The truth is that I can’t force a person to be faithful or honest to me. If they are going to betray my trust, they will do it. I can decide to let jealousy rule and burn it all to the ground before that happens or I can take that jealousy and make something beautiful out of it. People will leave if they want to, but I don’t have to deprive myself of affection in the meantime.
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