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How to Deal with Jealousy …and How to Spot the Signs

Jamie and Jenny sat in my office. A young couple in love. But there was a problem.

‘I can’t stand it much longer’ Jenny said. ‘He watches me all of the time, checks my calls, and asks me questions about where I’ve been. Doesn’t he trust me? His jealousy is killing our relationship!’

Everything had started out okay. Those little caring gestures, a phone call to just check or a text to find out where she was. At first Jenny found that endearing. It showed he really cared, right?

But now Jamie was becoming too controlling. Hurt by a previous relationship, his attempts to get the constant reassurance he needed was suffocating Jenny. The relationship was in danger. How to deal with jealousy had become a major problem.

How do you know when care and concern turned into jealousy? How do you recognize the danger signs? Here are 12 key signs to look for. The more you can tick, the bigger the possible problem you have.


Does your partner check your phone? Have you found him scrolling through your contacts? Does he go on your e-mail or social network and open incoming mail before you’ve had a chance to get to it?

You have a right to a private space. No one should expect to check your messages without a very good reason.

Does he open your letters ‘by mistake?’

Have there been occasions when mail has arrived through the post and the envelope has been opened because he ‘mis-read the name’ or ‘thought it was for both of you?’

These are warning signs that he’s over curious about who is writing to you and what they’re saying

How many times does he call or text throughout the day?

At first you might find it comforting or endearing but perhaps he’s monitoring you.

Does he ask where you are or what you’re you doing too often?

If you’re feeling uncomfortable, perhaps he’s mapping your movements and keeping a check on where you’re going.

Does he keep turning up?

Does he ‘coincidently’ turn up at the same club or pub when you are on a night out with your friends? How often does that happen?

You might think once is a coincidence but if he regularly ends up at the same venue you might wonder what’s going on?

Does he want to drop you off or pick you up afterwards? Whether it’s a night out with friends or even when you’re going to work or out to lunch? Is he just being loving and helpful or is it something else?

“Insecure people put others down to raise themselves up.”
Habeeb Akande

Is he passive aggressive?

When you’ve planned an event or an evening out away from him, perhaps to see family or friends, does ‘something happen’ which prevents you going?

Perhaps he’s ill or the car has broken down or he’s booked tonight out and you’ve got to be there. Once is a coincidence. More than once is a worry. People who are passive aggressive have a way of controlling whilst avoiding obvious confrontation.

It’s a subtle manipulative technique. Sometimes it’s subconscious. More often than not, it’s deliberately controlling.

Does he need constant reassurance of your affection?

Do you need to keep massaging his ego; keep reassuring him he’s the only one and you’ve never loved anyone more than him?

There is a balance in any relationship. Everybody likes signs of affection but if it feels too demanding, too much or too often then maybe you’re hearing warning bells?

Does he put you down?

Does he criticise what you’re wearing, your figure, your personality, or your sense of humour?

Do you feel better when you are with him or end up feeling down and insecure? Is he trying to confine you by destroying your self-confidence?

Does he tell you what to wear?

It can be flattering if he wants to come shopping with you and has an opinion on what looks good, but if friends say your dress sense has changed; if you find you’re choosing clothes you know he’ll approve of and not because it’s what you want to wear, you need to ask yourself, ‘Am I losing my autonomy? Am I losing my identity?’

Has he fallen out with your friends or family?

Does he find fault with your best friend, mother, sister?

If family occasions or outings with your oldest friends have become uncomfortable, he might be trying to isolate you; another way of controlling and confining.

Does he watch you?

If you’re at a party and talking to somebody, especially someone of the opposite sex, do you notice his eyes are on you? Has he ever challenged anybody about talking to you or paying you a compliment?

Is he envious of others?

Does he seem generally envious of other people? Does he think they have a better car, job or life? If he seems a bit ‘green-eyed’ over what other people have, it may indicate a general lack of self-esteem. That envy could easily translate to jealousy within your relationship.

Is he angry?

Most worryingly does he have angry outbursts? Are their increasing numbers of arguments or fights?

It may be he has an angry internal dialogue and jealousy may be at the root of it. Perhaps he’s running a constant negative tape in his head of jealous thoughts that are turning to paranoia.

What can you do about it?

[Tweet “”War, hate, jealousy, racism – what are they but manifestations of fear?” Paul Wilson”]

At the end of the day, how to deal with jealousy in a relationship (whether male of female) can be huge problem. Jealousy is often born out of fear of being able to cope with the consequences of loss. (1)

For Jamie, having lost one relationship, he was now fearful of losing another. He didn’t want to be made a fool of again but his fear was making him insecure and his insecurity was translating into jealous, controlling behaviour.

Jamie and Jenny had to have what I call ‘a naked conversation.’

All the cards were put on the table. Jenny knew they couldn’t go on like this and Jamie had to learn to have faith in Jenny and learn to trust her.

Windy Dryden, in his book ‘Overcoming Jealousy’ divides the emotion into three types; ‘healthy, unhealthy and morbid.'(2)

It is healthy to have negative emotions about negative events. If your partner really is having another relationship in a covert way or is looking to form a relationship with someone else, then there are certainly issues that need to be discussed openly and honestly.

If, on the other hand, there is an atmosphere of distrust with a constant searching for evidence of infidelity which has become habitual, it probably says more about unhelpful belief systems or low self esteem combined with fear of loss and separation.

Morbid jealousy, however can be likened to a possible mental health issue and may need addressing through counselling or psychotherapy.
Whichever it is, good communication is the answer. How to deal with jealousy often starts with making a list of your concerns and find a way of bringing them into the open in a calm and rational way. The middle of an argument is never a good time to tackle big issues.

Make a time and a date when you can have the discussion. Give reassurance if that is needed but keep focused on how the jealous behaviour affects you and be clear also about what you want to change. Having a third person present can often be helpful.

If things do not change, then it might be time to take a step back and decide if this is the right relationship for you

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.