Jealousy: Healthy or Unhealthy?

Let’s face it- we all feel jealous from time to time. But when it comes to dating relationships, is jealousy healthy or unhealthy? Like most things, the answer is complex. Sometimes, a little jealousy can be okay in a relationship- some people even argue that a tiny bit of jealousy can be a good thing as it shows strong feelings for their partner and fear of losing their partner. This might be true for some relationships, but all too often, there is a fine line that is crossed in which feelings of jealousy lead to very unhealthy behaviors. In other words: most of the time, jealousy is not a good thing. Too often, people use their jealous feelings to justify controlling behaviors. For example, a jealous boyfriend might not allow his girlfriend to hang out with her male friends anymore. Or a jealous girlfriend may look through her girlfriend’s phone to see if she is talking to any other girls. Controlling who someone talks or hangs out with, spying, or hacking into accounts are all common behaviors that TAP hears about when someone in a relationship becomes jealous. It's important to remember that jealousy is never an excuse to control your partner.

What causes jealousy?

Jealousy may come from low self-esteem, feeling insecure, or a fear of losing a partner. Some jealousy comes from comparing oneself to others and feeling inadequate. However, other forms of jealousy stem from possessiveness and a desire to gain control of their partner. This is jealousy at its worse, and can lead to violence and abuse.

If someone’s jealousy ever gets to the point where their partner cannot talk to certain people or go certain places for fear of their partner’s jealousy, the relationship may be abusive.

But isn’t jealousy a sign of love?

Sometimes we might feel somewhat flattered when a partner shows pangs of jealousy- after all, it shows they care, right?

Unfortunately... no. Jealousy is not a sign of love. In fact, severe jealousy, the type of jealousy that leads someone to try to control their partner, is the exact opposite of love.

On the other hand, partners who truly trust each other do not feel jealous because they know that their partner is dating them for a reason. Boyfriends/girlfriends who trust each other do not fear that their partner will cheat and don't feel the constant need to text/check-in to find out what their partner is doing. Partners who trust each other do not demand to have each others passwords because they know that there is nothing their partner is trying to hide. In these kind of healthy relationships, jealousy is not an issue.

What do I do if I’m feeling jealous in my relationship?

Good question! It is ultimately up to the jealous person to deal with his or her feelings in a healthy manner. Learning how to communicate with your partner, trust your partner, and stop comparing yourself to others are some steps to take that can be helpful in dealing with jealous feelings.