Coupling Connection - Dr. Jenn Oikle
Coupling Connection - Dr. Jenn Oikle

Is Jealousy Good
for Your Relationship?

Article by Jennifer Oikle, Ph.D.

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Cosmopolitan Magazine recently interviewed me on the topic of whether jealousy can be good for a relationship.

Jealousy is a hot topic. What do you think?

Well, like everything, jealousy is good in moderation. Here’s why.

Jealousy is a sign that something you care about could be in danger.

When you use that emotion positively- to protect your relationship- it can be a good thing. Of course when you take that too far- it can be damaging. But as with all emotions, what counts is what you do with it.

So what’s the best thing to do when you feel jealous?

Talk, without blame, about your feelings and perceptions with your partner so you can protect your relationship together.

As long as you know that being overly jealous isn’t usually an issue for you (if it is, you may need to work through the issue with a therapist), the pangs of jealousy could be your gut telling you that your partner is attracted to someone else.

There is nothing wrong with that by itself- we’re human, and it’s going to happen in even the best of relationships. But it is important that you don’t act inappropriately on that attraction, and that becomes especially important when you are around this new person on a regular basis. .

That’s where jealousy can help protect your relationship. By going to your partner and sharing your feelings, together you can explore if there is any need for concern. Sometimes the partner who has a growing attraction never really realized that it was becoming something that could threaten your bond. You can do that by exploring some questions together:

- Are you sexually attracted to her/him?
- Do you find yourself fantasizing about her/him?
- Do you feel yourself drawn to her/him emotionally?
- Have you opened up and shared really personal info with her/him?
- Has anything happened between you two that you would feel uncomfortable telling your partner about?

You need to be honest with yourself and your partner as you explore these questions.

And if there are any yes answers here- the couple can work together to come up with a plan to deal with it. Typically that involves moving away from the attractive person. For example, by agreeing to minimize contact, by telling your partner when there is contact, and by sharing less personal information.

However, if you find a developing attraction, you may also have to take back control of your mind by consciously directing your attention to your partner whenever you have thoughts of the new person. In essence, you simply refuse to go down the road that was starting to look attractive.

The bottom line is this: We’re all going to have attractions to other people and sometimes our partners pick up on our emotions and feel jealous.

That’s ok because you want to use your instincts- in this case, your jealousy- to notice when you might need to protect your relationship.

When you are in a long term committed relationship, you need to be on the lookout for attraction to others so you can something about it- not just slide toward it. That’s how too many affairs start.

But when you listen to your gut and take active measures to protect your love, it can last a lifetime.

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