What are signs of unhealthy jealousy?
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
H i, Carolyn:
I get extremely jealous and insecure. For instance, the other night, my boyfriend was getting work-related text messages from a female co-worker, which was fine and understandable. However, when she sent a text at 12:30 a.m., I got mad at my boyfriend for allowing her to text so late at night.
He told her to please stop texting, and she did. After reading a past column of yours, I feel like I am a controlling abuser. How can a person tell the difference between extreme jealousy and “normal” jealousy (if there is such a thing)?
For what it's worth, I have been cheated on before, by my ex-husband, and felt that I overlooked his seemingly innocent contact with female co-workers that led to his cheating.
“I got mad at my boyfriend for allowing her to text” — her actions are his fault? How does one “allow” someone to text at a given time?
There's nothing wrong with acting on an alarm that something isn't right — and that's what jealousy is in an emotionally healthy person, an alarm.
But when your alarm is so sensitive that benign things set it off; when you're forbidding partners from doing things you don't deny yourself; and when you're dictating how others live their lives, then you've got unhealthy jealousy.
Look at the language you used, saying you overlooked “contact with female co-workers that led to his cheating.” But that's not how it works. What led to his cheating was his decision to act on his impulses to cheat. A person who doesn't have those impulses won't cheat, nor will someone who has them but chooses not to act on them. And, these cheaters and non-cheaters have one thing in common: They have contact with temptation. You can't prevent cheating by keeping people on a leash.
Here's what you can do:
• Live with integrity yourself, and choose partners who do the same.
• Be realistic. No one does, or even can, behave perfectly; people who are more forgiving of human frailty seem to be the victims of it less than those who are rigid or intolerant.
• Be respectful of your internal alarms — and be pro-active in dealing with an alarm that's too touchy by getting into therapy. If you've been burned to the point of “trust issues,” it's your job to deal with that; it's not your partner's job to follow your rules to avoid upsetting you.
• Realize that if you don't trust your partner but stay in the relationship anyway, leveling accusations and imposing stricter limits on him, then, you are, in fact, abusive.
If that's you, then it takes guts to see and admit it. The next step is to admit it out loud to someone who is qualified to help you.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates expect high prices in trade market
- Steelers hope new faces breathe life into team
- Tuesday’s scouting report: Pirates at Giants
- Westmoreland women stole thousands to finance dog show appearances
- Latrobe man who admitted role in fatal crash allowed to continue driving
- Inside the ropes: Shazier shows off speed
- Belle Vernon woman named Mrs. Pennsylvania; targets child bullies
- Approval for Wal-Mart closer in McCandless
- Rutgers football coach says Scarlet Knights, Big Ten is ‘a tremendous marriage’
- Steelers notebook: Team hasn’t called on Keisel, Harrison yet
- 1 intruder killed, other shot and wounded in Carrick home invasion