Jealousy is a normal human emotion, and there's nothing wrong with feeling a twinge of it when scrolling through your favorite influencer's vacation pictures. Nevertheless, jealousy also has an ugly side, and it has the potential to impact any area of your life, from your career, to your friendships, to your love life. If jealousy is affecting your relationship, opening the lines of communication and getting to the root of the problem is crucial. I spoke with Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, to further understand how to do just that.
If you find yourself feeling jealous about your partner hanging out with other people, you might want to reflect on where that jealousy is really coming from. This is especially true if you're worried your partner might see something in someone else that they might not see in you. "It is more intense when the[ir] bond with others highlights challenges in your relationship," Klapow tells Elite Daily. "If the outside bond has what your relationship is lacking, you will see more jealousy."
That's to say, if your partner has a close friend with whom they're able to bond over something that you're not super into, sure, you might feel a little jealous. But if you don't feel threatened by that bond, then you probably don't feel the need to question their friendship. On the other hand, if you feel replaced, insecure, or unhappy with their new relationship, you might want to bring it up to them ASAP. Jealousy can grow into a much bigger problem over time if left unaddressed. This also goes for situations where your partner feels uncomfortable or jealous of a close bond you might have with someone else.
"It's a toxic situation that's often not discussed, or masked as other problems in a relationship," says Dr. Klapow. "Your partner may never say a word about jealousy, but act or speak in a way that signals problems. When there are more arguments and problems because your partner is showing jealousy, and it is not discussed, your relationship will suffer."
Since some people may be embarrassed to admit they're jealous of someone else, it's common for that jealousy to manifest itself in other, more toxic ways. The jealous partner "may withdraw, question your priorities, criticize the friendship, question your dedication to them, pout, act disengaged, and even become mean when it comes to anything regarding your outside friendship," warns Dr. Klapow. This type of behavior can lead to loads of unnecessary drama, and if you suspect the core of the problem is jealousy, starting an honest dialogue is the first step. "If your partner is jealous of your friendship, but instead questions your dedication, then the root of the problem is not addressed," explains Dr. Klapow.
He suggests starting the conversation gently and lovingly. "Let your partner know you're noticing certain behaviors [from them] as they relate to your friendship [with the other person or people]," he says. "Tell them you care about them and that you're trying to figure out what is going on." However, it may be a good idea to avoid directly using the word "jealous," as some people might be offended or triggered by it. "Let them describe their feelings about your friendship and your friend," explains Klapow. "Then, ask if they have concerns about the friendship, and if so, what those concerns are. Get them talking in a way that feels safe for them." Although this might not make their insecurities go away immediately, it allows you to understand the concerns that are fueling the jealousy.
Dr. Klapow also emphasizes the importance of understanding that jealousy often stems from hurt. So, if you suspect your partner's jealousy is stemming from a past experience or a deeper situation you don't know about, try not to get defensive. Instead, give them the chance to articulate their feelings. Hopefully, the core issue will no longer be masked by jealousy, and you and your partner can start developing another key relationship pillar: Trust.