Do you get the urge to sneak a peek at the screen when your boyfriend’s phone goes off? Do you call your girlfriend every hour, just to check where she is? Do you scroll through your SO’s Facebook page in your spare time to check out his latest tagged photos?
Alert! You might be that jealous girlfriend. Although devoting your undivided attention (and then some) to your significant other may seem like a sure way to establish a great relationship, this overbearing behavior can send a happy couple on the fast track to heartbreak. It may be hard to kick the habit, but getting over your jealousy and learning to trust your boyfriend or girlfriend is the key to a strong, healthy relationship. Her Campus talked with Dr. Jane Greer, relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship ,to figure out how to avoid being the jealous girlfriend and how to use all that anger to spice up your relationship instead!
1. Let your SO go out with his or her friends.
If you’re jealous, you may start to feel possessive. You may not want your SO to spend time with others because you’re afraid he may be lying about where he’s going, or you worry he may run into another girl.
According to Dr. Greer, some signs of jealousy include starting to check your SO’s phone for text messages, drilling your partner with questions about where he or she is going even if he or she already told you all the details and getting upset and feeling rejected if he or she doesn’t want to spend time with you. You may accuse your SO of seeing other women when he claims to be “out with the guys,” feel offended that he would rather spend time with his friends than with you or claim that his friends are a bad influence on him. In turn, you more or less start to hold him hostage, coming up with excuses to be around him all the time, or calling him and claiming to have an “emergency” that requires him to come to you right away.
Real Live College Guy Dale says his ex was guilty of this.
“To start, according to her, I wasn't ‘allowed’ to have friends,” he says. “I was more than supportive of her going out with her friends (guys included), but the second I wanted to hang out with my guy friends for a night, she was certain that I was up to something,” which lead to their breakup.
Give your man some time to let off some steam, play video games, drink beers, go golfing, play poker or do whatever it is that guys do in their free time. Rather than thinking of all the things your boyfriend could possibly be doing while he’s out without your supervision, take this new free time to go and hang out with your girlfriends as well. Couples quickly forget that they don’t have to spend 24/7 with each other, and a breather to just go and relax with your BFFs makes for a great (and long) night when you come back home and realize how much you missed each other while you were apart (wink, wink).
2. Check your boundaries.
There’s a time and place for GPS tracking. Save the mad-scientist locating devices for sci-fi movies and automobiles – not your SO. Following him to work? Hacking her Facebook and e-mail? Showing up unexpectedly a little too often? While you may think tracking your SO’s every move will keep him or her close, it’ll actually push him or her farther away. “Do not keep checking up on or react to his actions and behaviors,” Dr. Greer says. “Instead of being negative and critical about what he’s doing with other people, focus instead in a positive way on what you want more of with him!”
Find a way to plan time together that won’t make him or her feel smothered. Dr. Greer recommends a simple approach, such as saying, “I understand you want to go out tonight, but it would be great if we could spend more time together. Let’s set aside a day to spend together this weekend.”
Tell you SO how you feel about him spending time with other people, but also acknowledge that you understand that he needs his space and that you only feel this way because you’re so into him. However, don’t forget that mystery is always sexy, and not knowing every little detail of what your significant other is doing can actually add to your chemistry.
3. Focus on yourself.
So what if the girl who just walked by has platinum-blond hair, big boobs and mile-long legs? You have a boyfriend, and no matter how much he looks at her, he’s coming home to you. If you can’t contain the jealousy, Dr. Greer advises to use the envy in a positive way. “Don’t let it heighten your insecurity,” she says. “Let it heighten your confidence.”
Take some alone time to indulge in yourself. Work out at the gym, get a mani/pedi, cut your hair – shake things up! Rather than looking at everything you lack, do things that make you happy, give you a nice boost of self-assurance and challenge you to stop thinking about everything you’re unhappy about.
“Focus your energy not only on yourself, but also on having a fun relationship!” Dr. Greer says. “Then, you won’t worry about him having to stray.” If you’re happy and comfortable with yourself, you can be happy and comfortable with your boyfriend (who, sadly, probably won’t notice the haircut or freshly painted nails, but will be totally turned on by your newfound confidence).
4. Know how to communicate.
Get on the same page! Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and people can’t read our minds. Although it’s not a good idea to complain about every little thing your SO does, it is important to let him or her know if something he or she is doing makes you upset.
“I think the best way to avoid being the ‘jealous girlfriend’ is to communicate with your partner,” Dale says. “No one talks anymore; they resort to passive-aggressive status updates and situations like, ‘What's wrong? 'Nothing.' If you have concerns or if you're jealous, then you need to speak up. Otherwise, your partner isn't going to understand what went wrong in the first place, and assumptions/misunderstandings frequently lead to breakups.”
Relationships take work! If you want more PDA or a simple, “Hey, you look fabulous” every once in a while, say so. If you want to save it for the bedroom, let him know. “Keep focused on what you want more from your significant other, and convey it in a playful and positive way,” Dr. Greer says.
“Hey, babe, I really enjoyed that dinner date we had last week. I would love to get dressed up and go out with you more often,” works a lot better than “You only take me out like once a week. Why are you acting so cheap and who are you spending your money on?!” Remind your SO that you’re happy in the relationship, and you just want to take care of a problem before it gets out of hand and causes the relationship to fall apart.
Also keep in mind that communication works two ways, meaning that you need to sit down and talk (not yell) things out and hear your SO’s concerns and needs, too! There’s a difference between sorting out a problem and simply criticizing every little thing that’s not going your way. Don’t lay everything out on the table at once; concentrate on one thing at a time, and then tie it back to the bigger picture. In the end, it should always be about the two of you and how you are going to get through things together.
5. Embrace the “T” word.
Say you’re out grabbing a bite to eat. Do you get angry if he gets chatty with the waitress when you’re ordering dinner? When he gets up to go to the bathroom and takes more than five minutes, do you start questioning him about where he was and what took so long? Do you accuse him of eyeing the girl at the table next to yours and storm off, leaving him staring after you with a blank and confused look on his face because he just wanted to ask the waitress about her day, the line at the bathroom was super long and the girl at the table next to yours distracted him because she had accidentally dropped something?
It’s time to embrace the “T” word: trust. Trusting your partner is just as important as communicating with him or her. As soon as you realize that his or her intentions are always in your favor, the green monster will be banished and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier relationship!
Harvard undergrad Danai Kadzere says it best: “Ultimately, he's with you and no one else because he wants to be with you over being with anyone else. If he no longer feels that way, he'll end it (if he's mature), and you deserve to be with someone who really wants you!”
YOU are in control of your jealousy. While it’s a hard beast to tame, letting go is definitely doable, and it’s the key to being a happy couple. Rather than letting envy consume you and control the relationship, allow it to show you how invested you are in the relationship and turn your jealousy into love and affection. “Always focus on the positives!” Dr. Greer says.
Just don’t forget to listen to each other, give space when needed and take the time to work on yourselves individually as well as a couple!