Jealousy is an emotion that many of us have felt at one time or another. You may have felt it with a close friend, a person you are dating, or even with your current partner. Jealousy, whenever it decides to rear its head, needs to be resolved from within, or else it can quickly become the reason that your intimate friendships and relationships fail.
For the sake of confidentiality, I will refer to the experience of a woman named Joan who had been feeling the need to investigate her partner Ben’s emails, text messages and Facebook account. Her reasons were to find out how close Ben had become with a new co-worker of the opposite sex.
Joan had been told about common lunches and plans being made to meet as friends and was overcome with jealousy and the thought that Ben was getting along with some other woman. It was apparent that Joan felt threatened and thought the best solution was to go through all of Ben’s personal accounts to assess the relationship with the co-worker.
It is never a good idea to go through your partner’s personal or private accounts. If there is concern, it is better to be upfront about the concern rather than to forge ahead with your version of a private investigation. Just know that you are likely going to do yourself more harm than good by avoiding the real conversation with your partner.
You need to take a step back and examine what is really upsetting you. We all have doubts and insecurities, especially when it comes to our relationships, but taking the passive aggressive route will only lead to more damage in the long run.
The root cause of jealousy is mistrust. Without dealing with the root cause, mistrust almost always breeds more mistrust. I know it can be difficult to hold off and rethink whether you should or should not dive into your partner’s personal accounts, but my advice is to pause and think about why you are doing it.
Take Joan and Ben for example. Joan doesn’t have any real evidence or reason to believe there’s cause for concern, but is considering looking through Ben’s phone because she’s worried about him getting close to his female co-worker. Because the scenario could quite possibly be a fictional one, created by a growing mistrust, it is best for Joan to first trust Ben and be forthcoming with her concern.
It can take years to build a relationship with complete trust, and even that can be shattered in an instant if infidelity occurs. It’s easy to bring our baggage from past relationships to our current ones, but you need to remember that even if you have experienced disloyalty in the past, you owe your current partner the benefit of the doubt.
We’re all innocent until proven guilty, right?
Snooping around will only make you more paranoid. And, if your partner finds out (which, in my experience, they usually do), you will have created an even greater gulf between the two of you. Because, now, he really does have reason to mistrust you.
Next time you feel jealousy creeping in, ask yourself these questions:
1. Has my partner done anything I wouldn’t do in a similar situation?
Empathy can be a very useful way to deal with the ups and downs of relationships. Put yourself in a situation he has been in and ask yourself how you would have wanted him to deal with it.
2. What is the best case scenario that can result from snooping around?
Think for a moment, of the possible options:
a) You Don’t Find Anything Incriminating.
Nothing is solved. You’re still anxious and the jealousy has not gone away. You feel the need to continue invading his privacy until he finds out (which inevitably starts a bigger fight), or until you can no longer deal with the anxiety you feel as a result of snooping around.
b) You do Find Something. Anything.
And you latch onto it and twist it into something bigger than it is. In my experience, if you are looking for trouble, you will find it. And if you can’t find it, you will create it. When we are in an accusatory state of mind, we tend to warp the facts to fit with what we believe to be the truth. It’s called the confirmation bias. No one wants to be wrong, so we only look for the evidence that will prove our theory correct. This is a powerful perseverance mechanism of our subconscious, and if we’re not careful, it can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
c) You Hit the Jackpot.
You find the evidence you need to prove he’s been cheating. You confront him and have a blow-out fight. You accuse him of lying and cheating, and he accuses you of invading his privacy. Anger fuels your dialogue and you don’t actually get to the root of the problem; which is that something must have been off in your relationship to begin with for him to even consider pursuing a relationship with someone else.
Instead, try being up front and honest with your partner. Tell him why you are feeling jealous, and frame it in a way that is not accusatory but sincere.
Maybe your boyfriend truly has no idea that his new friendship is upsetting you at all. If you keep the lines of communication open, there will be less of an opportunity for your imagination to get the better of you.
And, when all else fails, remember this: Communication, communication, communication. Communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Before we attack, we need to understand. If you really want this relationship to work, you need to allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Jealousy is a human emotion that all of us must deal with at one time or another. We just need to remember not to let it get the best of us.