How to turn jealousy into a positive for your relationship

By Liz Paul, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

Jealousy in a relationship often arises because one partner feels insecure, possibly because they have low self-esteem or a poor self-image.

After all, if you don’t feel attractive and confident, it can be difficult to believe your partner loves you and finds you attractive. Other times, jealousy can be caused by unrealistic expectations about the relationship.

The problem is that jealousy makes the sufferer feel even worse about themself, because they know their feelings of jealousy are probably unreasonable as well as destructive, and they hate the conflict it causes.

And it can make their partner feel frustrated or angry towards the sufferer, sometimes resulting in that partner becoming evasive or dismissive when their actions are questioned yet again by the sufferer.  This, in turn, makes the sufferer feel resentful, suspicious and angry.

This can lead to a vicious cycle of negativity in the relationship.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If both partners can understand that jealousy is driven by one partner’s vulnerabilities, and these vulnerabilities are recognised, discussed and embraced, then bouts of jealousy can be opportunities to connect and help each other… and can actually help strengthen a relationship.  Because the more you talk about each other’s vulnerabilities, the healthier your relationship will be.

Here’s some tips on how to do that:

  • When the sufferer starts to feel jealous, they should ask themselves if there really is a problem with their partner’s actions. If their answer is ‘no’, they should dismiss their negative thoughts.
  • If the answer is ‘yes’, they should let their partner know how they feel about their actions… BEFORE jealousy turns into resentment. They should explain how the specific situation makes them feel, and link it to their vulnerability e.g. “I feel anxious when you go out after work and I don’t know where you are or who you are with – because that’s how my last partner cheated on me.  All I need is for you to call me and let me know.”
  • Both partners should be transparent with each other about their work relationships and other friendships.
  • If you are in a social or work setting without your partner, make sure you don’t cross a line with your actions. Ask yourself ‘How would I feel if I saw my partner doing this with another person?’ If you don’t like the answer, don’t take that action.
  • Show each other you value them by putting your relationship first as often as you can. Put your partner before your work, your colleagues, and your friends. When you do this, you build trust.

What are the issues for which most people seek assistance?

  • Relationship break-ups
  • Constantly fighting with your partner
  • Loss of intimacy with your partner
  • Communication problems with your partner or child
  • Difficulty parenting toddlers or teens
  • Pre-marriage counselling
  • A child misbehaving
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Family counselling
  • Wanting to separate from their partner amicably
  • Helping the children cope after a relationship break-up
  • Trouble staying in relationships
  • HSC stress for students and their families
  • Relationship commitment issues
  • Problems at work
  • Couple counselling
  • Difficulties with step-children
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Problems with in-laws
  • Substance addiction
  • Facing major life changes
  • Making new life choices
  • Relationship counselling