4 Steps for Overcoming Jealousy in Your Relationships
Are you struggling with jealousy and feel like it is taking a toll on your relationship? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and it’s possible to overcome it! Jealousy can be really overwhelming, and it can impact any relationship. It can be especially hard to navigate jealousy when you’re new to exploring ethical non-monogamy. Today I want to share 4 steps you can take to begin to overcome jealousy in your relationships. This is part two of a four-part series on ethical non-monogamy, so stay tuned for more tips for successful non-monogamous relationships. Let’s get started!
1. Identify deeper emotions
The first step for overcoming jealousy is to start to understand what deeper emotions you’re experiencing. Jealousy tends to be a reaction to other emotions. So, if you’re able to identify what your jealousy is reacting to, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to feel soothed and supported. For example, maybe your jealousy is rooted in a fear of abandonment. It can be really scary to feel like your partner may leave you, so it makes sense that jealousy is coming out. Having awareness of these deeper emotions can be really challenging, so do your best to have self-compassion as you navigate these feelings.
If you’re struggling with how to identify these deeper emotions, try answering the following questions:
- What am I feeling before the jealousy shows up?
- What am I feeling jealous about?
- What kinds of thoughts am I having when I’m jealous? Do these thoughts tend to revolve around a common concern?
- If my concerns came true (for example, if my partner chose to leave the relationship), what would that mean to me?
Another important part of exploring these deeper emotions is considering when they started showing up in your life. As we go through life, we bring our past experiences (and the feelings that come with them) with us. You may notice that this deeper emotion is one you’ve carried with you for a long time. It can be really helpful to unpack when it showed up for you and where it comes from, so that you can have more understanding for yourself and your needs.
If you are starting to come up with some deeper emotions, you’re already doing the work! A huge part of what soothes emotions is acknowledgement. Let your emotions know that you see them and that you care about them!
2. Identify what you need to feel safe
When jealousy pops up, it may feel like there’s a need to control your partner’s behavior or to isolate…but that usually doesn’t end up making us feel any better. If anything, it tends to make us feel worse because our deeper emotions aren’t being tended to.
Instead, try considering what you need to soothe the deeper emotion. For example, if your jealousy tends to be rooted in low self-esteem, consider what you and your partner(s) could do to help soothe your insecurity. Maybe you just need some reassurance from your partner(s) that they love you and want to be with you (if this is the case, what are some things that could help you feel reassured?). Maybe you need to do some work around your low self esteem, so that you can begin to recognize the incredible person that you are!
*Try making a list of what you think could help your deeper emotion feel soothed. Do your best to have a balance of things that your partner(s) could do to support you and things you can do for yourself too.
3. Create Self Care Rituals
You’ve probably heard about self care a lot lately, but it is for good reason! Self care is so important to our wellbeing. And taking your wellbeing into your own hands can feel really empowering. Jealousy tends to take control over us, and self care is a wonderful way to take back your power.
If you’re new to ethical non-monogamy and you’re struggling with jealousy, creating a self care ritual can be really impactful. If you tend to feel jealous when your partner is on dates or connecting with someone else, consider setting that time aside to dedicate to self care. For example, when your partner goes on a date you could engage in your favorite self care activities like meditating, reading, exercising, and so on. This can begin to shift time that jealousy takes over to time that is all about nurturing yourself.
Try making a list of self care activities. These activities can be anything that is nurturing, energizing, exciting, gentle, or supportive.
4. Considering the alternative to jealousy
There is an alternative to jealousy…and the good news is that it’s something you’ve experienced many times! Compersion.
Compersion is a term used in the non-monogamous community to explain a feeling that contrasts jealousy. Compersion is feeling happy for your partner to be connecting with others. It’s the joy of knowing that someone you love is experiencing something positive and fulfilling.
We all feel compersion! It can just be hard to access it when vulnerable feelings are in the way. Have you ever had a friend get a job that they desperately wanted and felt so happy for them? Or how about when a friend starts a new relationship and seeing them beaming with love and happiness makes you feel warmth and joy? Now thinking about your romantic relationships…have you ever had a partner accomplish a goal and felt really excited for them? Or maybe your partner found a new friend that they really connect with, and you felt happy because of their happiness?
We feel compersion all the time, and it is a really powerful feeling! And that’s the other good news…compersion is powerful enough to take on jealousy.
Try making a list of times that you’ve felt compersion (for friends or partners). How would you describe the feeling? What would it look like to feel compersion in the moments you feel jealousy? What would it be like to feel compersion instead of jealousy?
If you’re experiencing jealousy, know that you’re not alone and it’s understandable to be feeling this way! If you’re feeling ready to address it but feel like you need some support, consider reaching out to a therapist.
To review, here’s 4 steps for overcoming jealousy:
- Identify the deeper emotions jealousy is reacting to
- Identify what can help soothe your deeper emotions
- Create a self care ritual
- Consider the alternative to jealousy: compression
Are you ready to dive deeper into the world of ethical non-monogamy? Stay tuned for my next installment where we will explore safe sex and non-monogamy.