“Get this blondie off my jacket—we’re leaving.” My friend Alex looks at me quizzically. My eyebrows pop up schoolmarm-style as if to say, “Are you an idiot? Obey me!”
If I were a schoolmarm, I’d have a yardstick so I could just smack Blondie off this bar stool and get my jacket out from under her ugly bum. Alas, yardstick-less, I lean over her so she can hear me re-tell Alex, “Get. Her. Off.” I point for good passive-aggressive measure.
Luckily (for her), Alex gets it and politely requests that Blondie stand so I can exit with my outerwear clenched in my fist instead of a handful of blond hairs.
While doing a bi-coastal long-distance relationship for a few months, my girlfriend and I agreed to open our relationship to making out with other people. Blondie here was an unfortunate casualty of said agreement who couldn’t get the hint that The Girlfriend was back in town. I don’t usually despise light-haired lasses, but when they keep hitting on my girlfriend, my eyes get a little greener.
My loyal, saintly girlfriend tried to fend off such pesky trollops. But did I hold up my end of the deal by fending off the green-eyed monster? My snatching my girlfriend’s cell later that night to send hate-texts to Blondie tells me, “No.”
Whether you’re in an open relationship or a monogamous marriage or you can’t let go post-breakup, the big J is unavoidable. It’s the worst emotion; its connection to low self-esteem and control never feels good. Luckily, there are ways to make this green giant a little jollier.
As with any bad habit, acknowledgment is step #1. Often rooted in complicated self-perception issues or relationship patterns, jealously often arises in seemingly insignificant situations—he looks at the bartender wrong or her hand lingers on his arm. It may seem silly to tell your partner that his or her blinking incorrectly makes you feel so hurt, but communication is your best offense.
Instead of blaming your partner for your envy, simply tell her (him) you’re feeling jealous. Your jealousy isn’t your partner’s fault. He/she is allowed to smile at bartenders. Jealousy is rarely about a smile. It’s usually an indicator of a foundational personal or relationship issue.
Work toward repair by examining your jealousy’s roots. Are you jealous of the hot bartender’s looks? Is it even about her? Maybe you don’t see your boyfriend smile at you the way he just smiled at her. Going deeper, maybe you don’t trust that he’s happy with you. Most jealous feelings boil down to self-esteem or trust issues. Whether you’re comparing yourself to others or you don’t truly trust your partner, the antidote to jealousy can be as simple as feeling appreciated during a special date night or being honest with your partner about your insecurities.
Jealousy is actually a changeable behavior. As with any habit, we repeat jealous behaviors because there’s a payoff. What are you getting from your jealousy? Attention from your partner after you throw a fit? Control over her actions after you tell her you don’t like the way she smiles at bartenders? There are healthier ways to get these things.
The easiest one is to ask. Communicate about feeling unappreciated or neglected. Plan a romantic weekend. Stop disguising your control as love when it’s actually based on fear that your partner will leave or unlove you. You can’t make your partner smile at you the way she smiles at bartenders, but you can be a happy, lovable partner that she can’t help but smile at.
If I’d kept sending menacing texts to Blondies, my girlfriend wouldn’t be my wife now. When I told her instead that I felt unspecial at bars when these not-as-cute-as-me ladies competed with me for her attention, I was better appreciated during subsequent nights out.
When I realized that I had a loving, three-year relationship with my girlfriend when Blondie merely had a meaningless make-out session, I felt lucky. And when I further realized that my bum was (and is) much perkier than Blondie’s, I felt superior in the posterior. Did I mention that conquering jealousy is a gradual process?