Crushing the killer of gay relationships known as jealousy
You might feel it when that horny stud across the room at the gym gives your lover “the look.” You could experience it if your ex boyfriends ever cheated on you and then you project it onto your current man. Or you can experience it if you are in an “open relationship” and you know your partner is “cheating.” Whatever its form, jealousy can take on many different faces and can kill your relationship if not handled properly. If you are the one afflicted with jealousy, it can torment and consume you, robbing you of all security and satisfaction. If you are the partner of a jealous lover, your frustration at having to “walk on eggshells” and constantly reassure your guy of your commitment to him can be maddening.
Jealousy is not bad in and of itself. It is a feeling and all our feelings are fine; it’s what we do with them that can make the difference between relationship calm and relationship storm. Jealousy can benefit your partner in its slightest way. But if it’s a recurring and pervasive theme that seems to dominate the climate of your relationship, it can sabotage your future together and cause a lot of pain and pain. This article will address some of the dynamics involved in jealousy and offer some tips for you and your partner to overcome and defeat them.
Jealousy and its causes
Jealousy can be defined as a feeling that arises from a perceived threat to your relationship. It almost always involves fear: fear of losing abandonment or losing your partner, fear of being replaced by someone else, fear of ceasing to be important enough and being excluded, etc. This has a significant impact on self-esteem and leads to insecurity and the use of self-destructive behaviors to ward off these painful feelings and gain a sense of control (although it never achieves that and creates vicious cycles of the same dysfunctional behavior over and over again). Counterproductive behaviors can include spying on your partner, excessive attachment to him, constantly questioning his whereabouts and activities, among others.
What are the causes of jealousy? There are “internal” and “external” causes. Internal causes can include low self-esteem and confidence (believing that one is unattractive or unworthy of having a healthy relationship), a past history of experiences that created mistrust, and beliefs that one will be single forever if they lose their partner. External causes may include how the partner acts (expressing interest or flirting with another person) or the actual involvement of a third person in the relationship. “Factors that appear to affect susceptibility to jealousy include the duration and stability of the relationship, the maturity, dependency and level of self-esteem of individuals, their expectations of emotional gratification, and the perceived availability of alternatives to the primary relationship. (Neidig and Friedman, 1984).
Low levels of jealousy can be positive for your relationship. It can be a sign that something is “wrong” between the two of you. It can help partners feel cared for and be an indication that they are not taking each other for granted. It can also increase communication, engagement, and sexual intensity. “Jealousy becomes problematic when it is expressed indirectly, compulsively experienced, irrational, or leads to extreme levels of vigilance and control” (Neidig & Friedman, 1984).
The main consequence is that it also leads to a severe breakdown in the level of trust and intimacy between the two men, central ingredients that are necessary for a healthy relationship to last. And the other paradoxical effect of jealousy is that it can create the most feared and feared outcome: the end of the relationship.
Tips to beat the beast of jealousy
If you are the one who suffers from jealousy …
* Acknowledge your jealousy. Avoid minimizing or denying its existence. Recognize that you are not your jealousy, it is part of you, an aspect of you that you can learn to handle. Admitting its power over you is the first step to conquering it.
* Identify the cause of your jealousy. What feelings are behind your jealousy? Work on developing more effective ways to deal with these specific emotions.
* Keep a journal and write about your experience of jealousy and what it means to you. Ask yourself questions like:
Do I trust my partner and believe what he says?
Am I projecting my own problems and feelings onto him and blaming him? What is my jealousy really about?
What hurts? What is missing in my life?
· What are the consequences of my jealousy? What do I get from him that may be perpetuating it?
· Are my feelings of jealousy rational or irrational? Are they based more on real threats or insecurities?
* Identify jealousy triggers and avoid them or find ways to cope in a healthy way.
* Live in the present. Your partner is not your ex-boyfriend. Learn to control your anger and mourn past losses and hurts.
* Chorus for obsessing and compulsively questioning the behavior of your partner. Control your own thoughts and always compare your motives and feelings with reality.
* Realize that you are responsible for your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You create your own interpretations and perceptions of events and situations. Learn to identify and challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs and to develop affirmations or coping statements to write on index cards as a reference to help you through difficult times.
* Practice relaxation techniques to help you deal with your anxiety.
* Make sure you have a separate life from your partner to reduce dependency and bring more fresh air into the relationship. Communicate with your friends, develop your support system, and find social outings that inspire a sense of fun and purpose.
* Develop your self-esteem by taking safe risks that increase your confidence and allow you to see the strengths you have.
If you are the partner of a jealous lover …
* Be patient and endure during this difficult period. Understand how painful and difficult it is for your partner and feel empathy and validate their feelings. Provide guarantees of your love, but do not enable their behavior.
* Beware. Practice good stress management for emotional well-being.
* Identify the ways you could support your partner and show how much you value it. Explore your own behavior to determine if you are reinforcing your lover’s jealousy in any way.
And finally, together as a couple …
* Identify if jealousy is rooted in an underlying problem in your relationship. Missing? Are there any unmet needs that require your attention?
* Don’t make assumptions! Avoid mind reading and always check the feelings or thoughts that you may have between you.
* This is a great opportunity to open communication channels and see if it is necessary to renegotiate, create or eliminate new limits or “relationship rules”.
* Make your relationship a # 1 priority! Spend lots of quality time together and participate in activities that will reinvigorate your bond and restore some of that damaged trust and intimacy.
Jealousy doesn’t have to rule your life. Commit to aggressively minimizing their influence so that more energy is available for your own personal care and to enrich your relationship. These are the things that really matter. So smash that bastard before he has a chance to contaminate what you two have worked so hard to build. Turn that jealousy into passion for you and your partner and in no time you will no longer hear the evil whispers of Jealousy. You can do it!
* Reference: Neidig, Peter H. and Friedman, Dale H. (1984). Spousal Abuse: A Couples Treatment Program. Champaign, IL: Research Press Company.
© 2005 Brian L. Rzepczynski
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