Beat Jealousy By Resolving Compatibility Issues
I have never been jealous, but I was sad about being betrayed.
I was sad when the one I trusted didn’t live up to my expectations. I was sad when I saw that I wasn’t important enough to be the first choice. I was sad when my love wasn’t enough to keep our connection alive. But I wasn’t jealous.
According to the definition, romantic jealousy is being upset and angry because someone that you love seems interested in another person.
In my book, jealousy is a tell-tale sign of lacking compatibility within a relationship.
There are only two causes to jealousy:
- your partner shows interest in someone else (reality)
- or you think that they do (perception).
In either case, jealousy is a compatibility problem.
I have a friend, a very attractive woman, always surrounded by admirers wherever she goes. She is funny, charming and disarmingly beautiful. And she is fiercely loyal in general. I saw her losing relationships because her former partners couldn’t believe that she was never reciprocating the advances shown towards her. She used to be accused of being too friendly with other men, of enjoying the attraction too much, of looking at others too many times.
She didn’t commit anything yet she was always on a defensive side, trying to ease her partner’s insecurity. She told me that while she never wanted to flirt or cheat on him with anyone, her partner’s behaviour was pushing her, as she was already punished for it, so why not do it in reality. Needless to say, it didn’t last long between them.
It wasn’t about her behaviour or attitude, it was about the insecurity of her partner and the lack of clearly communicated expectations. He didn’t believe that she would choose him, so he constantly asked for confirmation of her loyalty. They weren’t compatible, because he made her always walk on eggshells and couldn’t trust her, even if he didn’t have any reason to question her.
Another couple I know suffers because the man in the relationship is a compulsive cheater. It is known by everyone around them, including the wife. Their relationship is bitter and full of arguments and accusations. The husband’s affairs are obvious for everyone and the wife is continuously confronting him, threatening to leave. Yet she stays, and he keeps on cheating.
She has every right to be jealous, for he is always interested in someone other than his wife. Without asking the moral question, whose fault is that, one thing is sure: They are incompatible, for the monogamous agreement they have doesn’t work out for the husband and makes the wife miserable too. It is possible that the husband would never be loyal to anyone else either, but he is surely unable to stay in a monogamous relationship with his wife to whom he promised monogamy.
She stays for a list of reasons, and with her jealousy, she makes their lives a living hell. They are the perfect example of a couple who shouldn’t be together.
A healthy relationship is based on respect, trust, communication and shared values. Constant jealousy signals that the main pillars are missing and unless the underlying issues are resolved, jealousy is nothing more than a manifestation of compatibility issues.
Jealousy signals a lack of trust
Getting jealous about your partner’s behaviour towards other people is about distrusting them. When you are jealous, you question their loyalty and their affection — assigning meaning to their actions. If you can’t raise the issue with your partner and you continue to doubt their intentions it means that your relationship is not built on solid values and honesty.
In some cases, not trusting someone is a reasonable reaction. In case they are showing interest towards someone else instead of you, it means that you didn’t communicate your expectations clearly enough. For some, flirting innocently with someone else is not a sign of infidelity, while others go ballistic if their partner smiles at a stranger.
If the expectations are clear and you still feel betrayed, it’s time to communicate it or leave. Not every problem has a solution. Trust issues are hard to resolve and they can signal deeper incompatibility.
We are glorifying jealousy and it is considered by lots as the ultimate sign of love and affection. It is not about love, it is about lack of respect, lack of trust, communication issues or possessiveness. It’s important to understand why you or your partner feel jealous, so you can do something about it, or admit your incompatibility.
Jealousy signals a lack of respect
In a relationship, respect is one of the main pillars. Not only respect towards each other but also respecting the unwritten rules of a relationship. If your partner doesn’t respect your feelings or they flexibly interpret the unwritten rules, you need to consider talking about what you expect from your relationship.
If despite your clear expectations (e.g.: not seeing anyone else, not having sex with anyone else, not flirting, kissing or texting with anyone else in a romantic way) your partner chooses to continue with their behaviour, it can mean that they don’t respect your values or your commitment.
Although, setting too strict expectations and punishing them for any social interaction is another problem. In this case, it’s you who don’t respect their autonomy and decisions — being afraid that any interaction can lead to infidelity speaks volumes about your insecurity rather than their cheating nature.
Jealousy means communication problems
In the early stages of the relationship, it is useful to discuss the basic principles and expectations towards the other. The meaning of exclusivity if left uncommunicated can cause major problems later on.
Based on upbringing, previous relationship experiences and personality, exclusivity can be interpreted on different levels. While for most couples sexual exclusivity is included in the word, having close relationships with opposite-sex friends can be understood differently.
For some, exclusivity means not to share anything emotional outside the relationship, for others, being in touch with their exes is normal.
If these questions are not discussed, it can cause trust issues that could have been solved by solely communication tools.
Jealousy can signal different relationship standards
In an established long-term relationship the relationship standards are usually communicated. But these days we can see lots of relationships where commitment is understood differently.
There can be lots of emotions involved even in a casual relationship, where the commitment is not defined and it gives a lot of room for interpretation. If the level of commitment towards each other is not even in a relationship, the question of exclusivity and cheating is not even raised.
When one feels more serious about the other, the other’s behaviour can cause jealousy issues. It is quite common to have jealousy problems in situationships, where the main relationship standards are unclear. The solution here is again communication and harmonising expectations before jealousy can poison everything.
Jealousy is about possessiveness
Jealousy can be a sign of toxic monogamy as well, which is about interpreting relationships in a conservative, patriarchal way. Toxic monogamy means that one partner in the relationship considers their partner as their possession. In this case, the relationship is not built on mutually agreed monogamy, but on the idea of possession.
When one partner believes that the other “belongs to them”, no matter how romantic it might sound, it is not about love but ownership. In a healthy relationship, the two parties are equal and both maintain their autonomy and right to make decisions. In a well-functioning relationship, trust, respect and communication assure that the mutually agreed rules are understood and accepted by both.
What to do when you feel jealous about your partner’s behaviour?
If you have a real reason to be jealous because your partner doesn’t abide by the mutually agreed relationship rules, you should ask yourself these questions:
- Did you agree on the rules that you now feel the other violates or is it based on non-discussed expectations?
- Did you communicate that their behaviour is not acceptable for you?
- Did you set reasonable expectations or do you try to assure that they don’t meet anyone else but you (not even friends)?
- Are you sure it’s not your insecurity and fears making you overreact their actions?
If answering these question, trying to communicate your issues and resolving your insecurities you are still unhappy and jealous, it might be time to admit that you are not compatible with each other. Maybe you need someone else whose relationship and exclusivity expectations are more matching yours.
If you are unreasonably jealous and your partner keeps reassuring you about their loyalty yet you still feel they are betraying you, you should ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have general trust issues with your partners that stem from you instead of them?
- Why are you insecure about their love and affection?
- What does their behaviour trigger in you? Is there something in your past relationships related to fear and betrayal that you are now projecting on them?
- Have you tried to resolve the issue by talking about it? Can it be a misunderstanding of expectations?
In many cases, jealousy is not related to the partner, but rather to the self. Think about your expectations of love and commitment. Think about why you expect them to act differently. Think about how your behaviour might trigger them to pull away.
In a healthy relationship, there is no place for jealousy. If it’s an irresolvable issue, it might mean major compatibility problems. And if so, it is best to reevaluate your relationship expectations or look for someone who is more fitting to your needs. Not everything can be solved within a relationship. Sometimes, if you tried everything, the best way is to move on and look for someone else. Be with someone you can trust respect, and from whom you can expect the same.