Jealousy in the couple

Jealousy: a source of conflict.

Jealousy in relationships is one of the main reasons for conflict. They usually cause a lot of emotional suffering to both members of the couple. Jealousy is very frequent and that is why today we want to talk about it. We will try to solve different questions such as why some people feel so jealous and others not, what makes this difference and how they can affect the relationship.

Romantic or partner jealousy, according to Pines, is a “real or imagined suspicion of a threat to a relationship that is deemed valuable.” That is, when a person perceives that their partner shows greater interest or affection towards another person, they may feel a threat towards their relationship and that is when the feeling of jealousy arises.

When we speak of jealousy we can refer to pathological jealousy or “normal” jealousy. According to Pfeiffer and Wong (1989), pathological jealousy implies the evaluation of an imaginary threat or paranoid suspicions that generate behaviors aimed at controlling the partner or the “rival”. That is, they involve the distortion of reality, while jealousy defined as normal, is based on real evaluations. In addition, another difference is that pathological jealousy generates emotional distress of a very high intensity compared to normal jealousy.

Self-esteem and jealousy.

There are different personality traits that are associated with jealousy. Among them, self-esteem stands out. Stieger, Preyss and Voraceck (2012) report that when the person perceives a threat to their relationship, seeing that their partner may be interested in another person, this threatens their own self-esteem and generates the feeling of jealousy.

When a person has low self-esteem or a negative self-concept, they may have a greater tendency to think that other people are better and that they may therefore become more interesting or attractive to their partner. This is why those people who have low self-esteem may feel more insecure in their relationships and have a greater concern about losing it, than those people who have good self-esteem and confidence in themselves and in their relationship.

Jealousy usually appears in people with low self-esteem.

Is jealousy always negative or can it have some benefit in the couple?

Is jealousy always negative or can it have some benefit in the couple

In our society, jealousy is very frowned upon because it is considered negative and harmful to the couple’s relationship, but depending on its intensity and how it is managed in the couple, it does not have to always be negative.

One of the possible benefits is that the couple can learn to talk about it openly . Thus, they can establish rules that keep the couple together in the face of possible threats to the relationship. This dialogue allows you to set limits . In turn, it can help to understand that having a good relationship with third parties does not mean that there is a romantic or sexual interest behind it.

Jealousy can also be interpreted as a sign of affection, love and care . That is, there are people who think that if their partner is jealous it is because he really loves him and is afraid of losing her. This is why some people deliberately try to make their partners jealous to see if their partner really values ​​them.

When is jealousy negative?

On the other hand, jealousy is negative when it begins to appear too often or with an intensity that generates too high an emotional distress for those who suffer it, especially when it is irrational or unjustified. This can generate behaviors of control towards the partner on the part of the person who is jealous, such as checking the mobile phone or social networks, not accepting that his partner has friends or friends, controlling the clothes that his partner wears to go out, etc.

All this can trigger very big conflicts in the couple , even sometimes, reaching violence. In fact, there has been a high relationship between jealousy and violence in the partner, especially of men towards women, but this does not exclude that sometimes women are abusers (Montes-Bergues, 2008).

Jealousy can separate a couple

How to work jealousy?

How to work jealousy

One of the main problems in the issue of jealousy in couples is the lack of communication and honesty. It is very important that the couple learn to communicate in an empathic and open way so as not to give rise to misunderstandings or unjustified suspicions. When one of the members of the couple is constantly jealous, the other member of the couple may have the tendency to hide information, even if it is not relevant, for the simple fact of not arousing more jealousy in their partner. This can be a serious mistake, because the other person can become suspicious and become more jealous if they realize that their partner is hiding things from them, which generates greater distrust.

In order to manage jealousy, therefore, the couple must learn to communicate openly, see what are the factors that usually arouse the feeling of jealousy, and you can also do a job with a professional oriented to work on self-esteem and insecurity of the person who suffers from jealousy , or also the work in couples therapy to learn to relate to each other in a healthy way.

In short, jealousy is an emotion that can generate intense discomfort, but that all people feel to a greater or lesser extent, and that discomfort will depend on how each person manages and expresses it. In order to do it in a healthy and less harmful way, it is sometimes necessary to seek professional help.

The story of Elena and Mario.

Next, we are going to present a fictional clinical case of jealousy to better understand what usually happens in couples:

Mario and Elena go to couples therapy because they are having problems in their relationship due to a jealousy issue. Mario has always been a bit insecure. Sometimes it is difficult for him to believe that Elena wants to be with him. In addition, other partners of hers have been unfaithful before. Because of this, Mario has always had a tendency to control Elena a bit. He is very aware of who he goes out with when he is not going with him, with which boys he has friends and with whom he usually talks more on a daily basis, etc.

About a month ago, Mario began to feel a high level of jealousy for a co-worker of Elena with whom she gets along very well and they have become very good friends. In addition, a week ago she went out to dinner with her co-workers and since this colleague lives near her, he drove her home, which made Mario feel very jealous and began to think that Elena could be having an affair. with the.

They had a very big discussion for this reason. Elena can’t understand Mario , because she doesn’t like this coworker, they just get along very well. She loves Mario very much and has always been faithful to him, therefore, she feels very offended that Mario might think that of her. After this discussion, the relationship has not been the same. Mario has jealous behaviors such as controlling who Elena talks to on her mobile, seeing if she dresses attractive to go to work, etc. All of this makes her feel very burdened and uncomfortable . She gets very angry when she sees how Mario is not able to trust her, since he has no coherent reason to be suspicious and jealous.

On the other hand, Mario, feeling so much jealousy, has started talking more with a friend of his to make Elena jealous, with the aim of making her feel the way he feels. This has bothered Elena a lot and is making her distrust him. They have started to have very frequent arguments due to jealousy in which they do not reach any solution. This causes the relationship to gradually break down.

The therapy seeks to open a fluid and empathic communication.

Work communication and self-esteem.

If we analyze what has happened, we can see that all this could have been avoided if from the beginning they had spoken openly about Mario’s jealousy , trying to empathize with each other and talking about everything that makes Mario feel insecure. In addition, it would be good for Mario to work on his self-esteem with a professional, because this problem comes from a lack of confidence in himself, since Elena has never given him reasons to distrust.

In therapy, the work would be oriented to see what are those aspects that have made Mario suspicious and jealous. In turn, Elena should explain her point of view. So both can put themselves in each other’s place and understand each other. Mario’s self-esteem and his insecurities would also be worked on . It would try to strengthen the communication of the couple in a healthy and appropriate way , to avoid future discussions on this same topic.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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