Dealing with Jealousy: 11 Techniques for Understanding and Overcoming
Whatever relationship style you choose or how self-confident you are, you’ve probably wondered how to manage jealousy. None of us are perfect and, if you’re into someone, it’s normal for jealousy to rear its ugly head every now and then.
It’s useful, regardless of your relationship style or status, to learn how to manage jealousy in order to minimize negative emotions and have healthy intimate relationships of any kind.
This goes for people in any kind of relationship. However, dealing with jealousy is particularly crucial for people who practice ethical non-monogamy - any kind of consensual romantic or sexual relationship that is not exclusive between 2 people.
Jealousy is normal, but needs to be thoughtfully managed and communicated
We all feel jealousy. It doesn’t make you a monster to feel that sick or angry feeling in your stomach when your non-monogamous partner tells you about a recent encounter they had.
And feeling it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in an open relationship. It just means you need to work through some things alone and with your partner.
People can feel different levels of and deal with jealousy in varying ways, based on factors like insecurities, fears, past relationship experiences, and how comfortable they are with processing and expressing vulnerable emotions.
Jealousy isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship or that you have to suffer in silence.
11 Healthy Techniques to Help Manage Jealousy
1. Pay attention to your jealousy
Contrary to what many people say, jealousy isn’t a sign of love. It’s usually a sign that there is a deeper emotional need that isn’t being met.
Where is your jealousy coming from? A lack of self-esteem or self-love? Not feeling secure in your relationship? Anxiety surrounding attachment or abandonment?
Like anxiety, we tend to experience jealousy when we feel unheard, confused or scared we aren’t good enough. These can usually be resolved by receiving support and reassurance and being made to feel safe and loved by your partner.
2. Open, honest communication with your partner
This is probably the most important thing in any relationship, but especially an open relationship. The worst thing you can do is sit on bad feelings and let them dwell inside you. They won’t get solved this way and will only lead to resentment, passive aggression, anger, and distance between the two of you.
Even though it’s scary to be vulnerable, sharing difficult emotions in relationships brings partners closer, and you’ll feel a whole lot better when your partner responds to you with love, care, and understanding.
3. Talk it through with your friends and family
It’s obviously crucial to speak openly about dealing with jealousy with your partner, whether it’s open relationship jealousy or whether you’re in a monogamous relationship. But it’s also incredibly useful to share your feelings with friends and family.
Doing this, especially in moments of intense jealousy, can bring you out of your extreme state of mind and offer calming perspective.
4. Communicate your emotions after you’ve had time to process
It’s not always helpful to communicate bad feelings when you’re in the midst of feeling them, because you might say things you don’t mean or something unnecessarily accusatory.
It’s better to think about where your open relationship jealousy is coming from or tell your partner that you need a bit of time to process, and calmly speak with them once you understand your emotions better, so that they can too.
5. Make plans on evenings you think jealousy could pop up
If you know your non-monogamous partner has a date with someone and you think you might get squirmy, avoid the urge to hide away on your own feeling sad, or constantly checking your phone for them to message you.
By making a fun plan with friends, you’ll be distracted but you’ll also be more likely to feel good about yourself, and consequently more happy for your partner to be having a fun evening, too.
6. Remember that your partner probably feels jealousy too
Jealousy can be a lonely feeling, and it’s easy to blame your partner for “causing it”. But it’s good to remember that if you’re feeling twangs of jealousy, your partner probably is too.
All the more reason to talk about it!
7. Learn about your love language
Some theorists believe that each of us has a love language - AKA, a way of expressing and receiving affection that make us feel truly loved and seen. Your love language could be physical affection, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or something else entirely.
Figuring out your partner’s and your own love languages can be an enlightening way to understand how to show each other support and care, and figure out why someone might be feeling unloved.
8. Get your boundaries straight
If you’re new to open relationships and you’re wondering how to manage jealousy, it could be because your partner is doing something that is crossing your boundaries.
For example, texting a lover while they’re spending time with you, or spending more time on dates with other people than you’re comfortable with.
If they know it’s crossing your boundaries, then they need to seriously alter their behavior. But they might not know that something they’re doing is bugging you, because it hasn’t been discussed.
This is why being very clear on boundaries at the start of an open relationship is essential. Don’t forget that you can change your boundaries with a conversation at any time.
9. Your partner’s interest in someone else doesn’t take away from their love for you
Repeat: it doesn’t take away from their love for you! Most of us are programmed from a young age to think that if our romantic partner fancies someone else, they must fancy us less, or not at all.
This isn’t true! It’s possible to be attracted to, desire, and be in love with more than one person at once. Keep reminding yourself that your non-monogamous partner sleeping with someone else isn’t taking away from their affection for you.
In fact, it’s probably making them appreciate you more. Think about how it feels when you sleep with someone else. It’s totally separate from your love for your partner! Once you start to understand this, open relationship jealousy decreases and your partner’s love/sex life doesn’t have to be a cause of worry.
10. Practice self-care and anxiety management
As we’ve said, jealousy can stem from personal feelings of anxiety and low self-worth. Small regular practices can drastically improve the way you handle and process anxiety and other negative emotions.
What makes you feel calm, grounded, and like your best self? Calling a friend? Taking a walk, run, or bath? Getting your nails done? Meditation? Journaling?
Anyone can learn invaluable emotional tools which can help in dealing with jealous feelings that seem overwhelming.
11. Remember that compersion is possible
Compersion can be defined as the opposite of jealousy. Compersion means experiencing joy at the sight or knowledge of your partner having romantic or sexual relations with others. It’s about feeling happy because they’re happy.
Sounds great right? It is. And while it can take time, it’s more than possible to get there.
There’s no set formula for how to manage jealousy in a relationship, but there are tried and tested ways to work through it in a way that is beneficial to you and your relationship.
If you can throw yourself into vulnerability, honesty, and clear communication, jealousy doesn’t have to be a negative emotion. Instead, it can be a tool for self-growth and loving relationships.