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My personal Othello. Dealing with jealousy

07.03.2019 Author: psiholog pavel horoshutin

We all know well what jealousy is. Many of us have already encountered it in our lives. A lingering doubt in the fidelity of the other person can bring a lot of pain both to us and to them. It always hurts especially when our loved one accuse us of cheating for no reason whatsoever, and we have to prove our love.

Some people think that jealousy is a sign of strong love. Even the mildest jealousy can spice up the relationship and make you value your partner more. However, it can also become extremely unhealthy — and of course, it has nothing to do with love. Such relationship can be dangerous: according to statistics, the majority of domestic crimes happen due to jealousy. [1]

If your partner displays this baseless jealousy, stay with us and learn about the causes of it, signs of jealousy, its dangers and the ways to help your loved one change their behavior.

Contents:

  1. Why people feel jealous?
  2. Intensity of jealousy
  3. What a jealous person capable of
  4. Dangers of pathologic jealousy
  5. Test: is your jealousy pathologic?
  6. Handling jealousy: psychologist’s advice
  7. Solution to a problem

Why people feel jealous?

reasons for jealousy

Jealousy is a devoted companion to love. However, sense of jealousy and jealous behavior are completely different things. Pretty much everybody fears losing their loved ones; however it’s important to be able to deal with this feeling on your own without hurting beloved person. So, if your partner is jealous of you for no obvious reason and even demands you to change your behavior for them, you can be absolutely certain that you’ve encountered pathological jealousy. [2]

You must understand that this is not a personality trait but a behavior pattern. A person becomes so jealous due to a mindset developed throughout their life, and this mindset can be changed with the right approach.

Jealousy can stem from childhood trauma, self-doubt, possessiveness or past negative experiences. Let’s talk about them.

Negative experience

This reason is very easy to understand. Let’s say a man learned that his wife cheated on him, or his friends, co-workers or family members told him about unfaithful women. And most likely, it’s happened more that few times. Of course, that man will then subconsciously apply those lessons to his present life. He will develop a mindset that all women cheat, so you will definitely betray him sooner or later. He will even expect you to do so, consciously or subconsciously, and will do anything to prevent this.

Childhood trauma

Here is an example of another cause. Parents loved one of their children more than the other, paying little attention to or even neglecting a child. Such a child feels jealous from the very young age and gets used to it. On a subconscious level they learn that there is always someone better than them, someone is always loved more, and they are just an extra. Such mindset then gets applied to any kind of relationship, including romantic one.

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Lack of love during childhood and strained relationship with parents can also be the cause of jealousy. After becoming an adult, a person continues to search for love, and when they find it in their partner, they find it hard to “share” that person with anybody, lest they get deprived of love and warmth.

Self-doubt

Various insecurities can also make a person express ungrounded jealousy. Such people fear that their partner will discover their “true nature” and leave them for someone richer, smarter, more attractive or better in bed. As the result, a person begins to treat every other acquaintance as a potential rival.

Possessiveness

Traditionally, a man was meant to be the strong one, the head of the family, the one to make all the decisions and support his wife financially. On the other hand, women were expected to be timid and selfless, devoting herself to the family fully. Such mindset exists even today, and many children are getting exposed to it since the very young age. As the result, many men get overwhelmed with the sense of power in their adulthood. Such men treat their wives as their possession, controlling her life and imposing rules and prohibitions. They get extremely angry when their “possession” oversteps those imposed boundaries.

Mental and other disorders

In rare cases, pathologic jealousy can be a sign of many mental disorders, like depression or schizophrenia. Jealous behavior can also stem from alcohol addiction, organic personality disorder and even brain infections. If a person has other signs of such disorders, they should receive treatment for the cause, not the consequence. [3]

Intensity of jealousy

why jealousy is dangerous

This problem can manifest in different ways: through fixations, predominant ideas and delusions. [4]

Fixations

Person with fixations always asks themselves whether their partner cheats on them. They find no grounds for such suspicions, but the thoughts keep appearing. Meanwhile, their partner might not even know that their loved one is troubled by these thoughts. At this stage the person maintains a critical attitude towards such fixations, they do not act upon their suspicions.

Predominant ideas

At this point a person is almost certain that their partner is unfaithful. Even if they have no solid evidence, they spend a lot of time to find some. For example, they might spy upon their partner, check their private conversations, search for “evidence” in their lockers. Fear of infidelity starts to control a person’s behavior.

Delusions

On a previous stage, a person was almost certain their partner has a lover; at this stage they can even name the one. They do not even need to search for evidence yet see it even in the slightest details. For example, they can explain their partner choice of outfit by saying it’s the preference of that “romantic interest”. At this stage jealousy completely subdues the person’s behavior. According to psychology, jealous delusion is a mental disorder which cannot be treated without professional help.

What a jealous person capable of

A jealous person tends to control their partner, as they think their partner will leave them, so they must leave no way out of the relationship. They require total obedience, set preposterous rules and can even act aggressively. This jealousy can be expressed by different means:

  • prohibiting to talk with other people of opposite sex, even close family members;
  • prohibiting to leave the house alone;
  • demanding passwords to social network accounts;
  • wiretapping their partner’s phone, installing surveillance on their partner’s PC and even setting up cameras around the house;
  • prohibiting their partner to work;
  • constant accusations;
  • unstable behavior: throwing a temper tantrum in a matter of seconds after being seemingly calm;
  • inadequate reaction to their partner’s words, for example, mentioning a person of an opposite sex in a story;
  • constant calls and messaging, and another tantrum if a partner doesn’t respond for too long;
  • threats;
  • physical violence.

It is important to understand that neither of these things is an expression of love. True love is based on trust and respect for personal space. All the actions listed above are actually the signs of unhealthy jealousy.

Dangers of pathologic jealousy

how to get rid of jealousy

Jealousy inflicts harm both on the jealous person and the object of jealousy. Severe cases may even result in suicide attempts. A jealous person considers themselves the victim and often tries to solve the problem by using destructive methods. In milder cases that may lead to severe depression. This is why it is so important to treat jealousy in time.

Jealousy can also be a sign of love addiction, which is a learned behavior pattern that can be changed.

It can even affect children. They subconsciously adopt this mode of behavior and apply it to their own relationship in the future. Unhealthy atmosphere in the family can severely impede the child’s chances for happy and peaceful childhood, which unavoidably will lead to neurotic disorder.

A partner of a jealous person loses safe personal space, all external social connections and, as a result, becomes isolated. They become fully dependent on their partner without any chance to end the relationship, because they have nowhere left to go and no resources to live independently. Such situation is undoubtedly quite dangerous. A person can sense unlimited power over their partner and aggressively react to their escape attempts.

It can even result in physical violence as a response for “disobedience”. This is the main danger of this disorder.

There are many cases when a man beat his wife during a fit of jealousy, inflicting serious damage and even killing her in the process. The same can happen to a supposed “rival” and even children. Therefore, if your partner displays such behavior, you must immediately look for the ways to solve the problem.

Test: is your jealousy pathologic?

Here is a check list for you to measure the degree of your partner’s jealousy. Read the statements and mark the ones you agree with.

  • My partner forbids me to talk to other people of opposite sex, even family members.
  • My partner demands access to my social network accounts.
  • We always go together to any events, I cannot go anywhere alone..
  • My partner calls me constantly when I am at work.
  • There are no secrets between us.
  • I know that my partner often checks my phone.
  • One day my partner threw a raging fit because I didn’t behave the way they wanted me, and even hit me.
  • My partner’s mood changes so often that I cannot even trace the causes for this.
  • I don’t remember when I was left alone last.
  • I cannot even talk on the phone in private, my partner doesn’t hide that they listen to my conversation.

If you agree with three or more statements, you should pay more attention to this issue. Remember that pathologic jealousy can lead to serious problems, up to physical violence.

Handling jealousy: psychologist’s advice

A comment from Olga Fufaeva, a psychologist of the Russian branch of the Institute of remote psychology:

“Modern psychology has been treating pathologic jealousy as a serious disorder for a long time. This is a behavior pattern adopted in childhood. Therefore, if you did not do your partner wrong, do not punish yourself for nothing.

If your partner’s jealousy is strong to the point of unbearable, causing you increased discomfort, yet you have decided to keep the relationship going, you should know how to handle your jealous partner. Here is a bit of advice:

1. Try to correct your behavior. Pay more attention to your partner, praise them, tell them how much you value them and your relationship. Surround them with care and comfort.

2. Never even try to compare your partner with other people, especially of their sex, do not present your friend’s partner, a co-worker or even a family member as an example.

3. Reply calmly to all the questions. If your partner pushes you to tell them where you have been and what you were doing during the day, be patient and do not show your irritation. Describe your day in detail, what experiences and emotions you had, because this knowledge will calm your partner.

4. If you are stuck in a traffic jam or something unexpected happened, take a minute of your time to inform your partner that you are going to be late. This way they won’t feel too worried about you.

5. Do not tell your partner the details of your past relationship. Do not tell them about your ex and definitely do not present them as an example.

6. If you have friends of the opposite sex and your partner forbids you to communicate with them out of jealousy, try introducing them to your surroundings. We always fear the unknown, and this simply gives your partner more reasons to imagine bad things, possible acts of infidelity. By knowing your friends they can feel safer and become closer to you as the result.

Follow this advice, and your relationship will become peaceful and full of trust. Do not forget though that your own emotional comfort and safety must be a priority. If your partner has long overstepped their boundaries due to their jealousy, if your health or even your life is in danger, take a moment to think: do you really need this suffering and trouble, or will you be much better off without this constant stress and fear?”

Solution to a problem

A jealous person who hasn’t yet reached the stage of delusions often suffers from their fears and trauma as much as their partner. Such person can listen to reason and agree to change their attitude.

You can go to a family counseling, where a psychologist will help you fix your relationship and figure out the ways to build it further. However, how can you get rid of jealousy for good? Your partner has to work on it themselves. 7Spsy behavior modification technique is a good way to do so.

We will teach you to develop relationships without jealousy

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The course is taken remotely and lasts a mere 2-6 weeks. Your partner will not have to share their intimate secrets with a psychologist, not tell you anything about the work on the course itself. Many people are afraid to doing exactly that, after all.

7Spsy method will help you partner discover a mindset that prompts their fits of jealousy and change it to a more positive one. Soon they will develop a new behavior pattern, treat you better and trust you completely. Peace will finally return to your family. Isn’t that great?

References:

  1. Fizicheskoe nasilie v pare: 5 faktov, o kotoryh my ne znaem (http://www.psychologies.ru/self-knowledge/behavior/fizicheskoe-nasilie-v-pare-5-faktov-o-kotoryih-myi-ne-znaem/).
  2. Lundy Bancroft, «Zachem on eto delaet».
  3. Patologicheskaya revnost (https://www.med39.ru/article/psichiatria/revnost.html).