Where do you draw the line between healthy jealousy and let’s say… Spencer Pratt? A little jealousy never hurt anyone, but when guys let that green monster get the best of them, relationships can suffer. You’ve heard countless tips on how to make him jealous, but what if you want to do just the opposite? If you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with a partner who is super jealous, check out what our surveyed guys have to say about the situation and how the experts can help you deal.
In her book Secrets of Happy Couples, Kim Olver – coach, speaker, author and love expert – calls jealousy the relationship killer. “Jealousy will eat at the foundation of a relationship until there is no love left.” So what can you do if you’re dealing with a guy that’s a little overly green? Olver suggests understanding the roots of jealousy to help you identify the problem, but also recognizing that it’s not yours to “fix.” With a little insight into the mind of the man and some expert advice, Her Campus has put together some advice that will lead you in the direction of a healthier relationship.
Olver identifies insecurity as one of the roots of jealousy. If your guy is constantly putting you on a pedestal and bringing himself down, he may be suffering from low self-esteem. According to Dan Lier of Ask Dan and Mike, a relationship expert duo featured on NBC, CNN and Inside Edition, “the lower your man’s self esteem, the more jealousy he experiences. Don’t let looks and achievement fool you into thinking he has high self-esteem. Some of the most attractive men are the most jealous, as they lead the way in regards to insecurities.” He might think you’re too good for him, having thoughts like, “Why would she ever date someone like me?” or “I bet all the guys at the bar are all over her.” While these may sound like great compliments to you, there may be an underlying issue in what he is saying. Andrew, a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign says, “I get jealous when she’s out and doesn’t respond to my texts all night. It makes me think that whatever she’s doing is more fun than talking to me and it makes me wonder why we’re dating if she’s not thinking about me when we’re not together.”
One of the best ways to deal with an insecure boyfriend is to build him up… he may just need some reassurance that you’ve only got eyes for him. Lier believes that communication is the key to overcoming his insecurity. He suggests asking your guy, “What has to happen for you to know that I am with you, and loyal to you?” According to Ask Dan and Mike, the more healthy conversations you have together, the more trust you and your partner will build and the more connected you will become. A text here and there or a phone call at the end of the night lets him know you’re having fun but thinking about him, and that should ease his mind. Just remember, you shouldn’t be glued to your phone when you’re out, constantly updating him with your every move; it’s important to remain independent while also respecting his feelings. If his nagging is obsessive and he constantly needs to know what you’re doing, you need to reevaluate the relationship; these are signs that it could be an unhealthy one.
You Play Games
We’re all guilty of a little game-playing sometimes. The whole upper hand/lower hand dynamic in the relationship can get us a little crazy. You’re craving attention and you know exactly how to get a rise out of him, but that might be your problem. Carole Lieberman, media psychiatrist and best selling author of Bad Girls, Why Men Love Them and How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets, believes that a little touch of jealousy isn’t bad; “it keeps your guy on his toes.” Lieberman identifies the problem as women provoking men into becoming jealous. Girls see jealousy as an easy read that a guy is still interested in them, so they’ll do whatever they know will make their own man envious. Playing games like flirting with other boys in his presence, ignoring his calls and texts and toying with his emotions is dangerous because guys may take it too seriously and their jealousy could escalate. Keep your games in moderation; nobody wants their emotions and feelings disrespected. He won’t know when you’re being authentic and when you’re looking for a rise if you’re not truthful in your actions. Take it from Franic, a student at Loyola University of New Orleans. “I hate when she flirts with other guys or gives other guys more attention than me,” he says. ‘If she’s doing that when I’m around, what is she doing when I’m not there?” Don’t give off the impression that you want someone else when all you really want is the guy you already have; your game-playing could backfire, so keep things honest.
He Was Cheated On
Another root of jealousy, according to Olver, is past experience. It’s not just your past that can make your guy jealous, but maybe something in his past as well. If he was with someone who was unfaithful, you should ask yourself if you’re okay with putting up with his insecurities. Eric from the University of Iowa says, “I don’t think I’m a jealous person, but my last girlfriend cheated on me, so sometimes the girl I’m with feels like I bring the weight of that into our relationship.”
He may be unusually inquisitive about your plans or need extra reassurance of your feelings for him. Olver suggests giving him a realistic time frame to show improvement if you believe the past cheating incident was recent. She says if he doesn’t show improvement, you may have to consider accepting his ways, or leaving.
You Lost His Trust
In her book, The Secrets of Happy Couples, Olver also talks about how to rebuild trust in a relationship if you’re the one that cheated. She writes, “You have some work to do. You must open yourself up for him to trust you again. You must end contact with the other person and allow your partner access to every area of your life until he can begin to trust you again. If you cannot rebuild the trust, you need to accept how your relationship has changed, or leave. If you lost his trust somewhere down the road, chances are his jealousy is just a defensive instinct.
He Feels Threatened
If your boyfriend feels threatened in your relationship, he may get extra jealous when other guys are in the picture. When you tell stories about your guy friends or talk about how funny his pals are, chances are he may get a little jealous. Richard from the University of Wisconsin-Madison gets jealous “when she lets other guys buy her drinks at the bar, because [he wants to] be the one to do that.” This is a perfectly normal response to your behavior. Be sure he understands your feelings for him. Lieberman believes that when your boyfriend interrogates you about a certain guy, it’s your job to prove that you are just friends. She believes that if he starts making this a habit, however, then you should start looking for other signs that he is too controlling… and to start thinking of making your exit before his jealousy escalates into abuse.
He Doesn’t Want Things To Change
Many guys get controlling when they feel the situation is slipping out of their hands. Olver believes he may be using jealousy as his best attempt to keep you connected to him out of guilt or obligation. If he feels you pulling away, trying to force you to act the way he wants you to act is his last attempt to keep things the way they once were. Mac from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign recalls a recent break-up that taught him a lesson in relationships. “My ex-girlfriend and I broke up last year because she wanted to start seeing other people. Looking back, my attempt to keep her from breaking up with me was pretty pathetic. I used to get really mad when she would bail on plans, but I should have seen that she just wasn’t interested anymore.” If he wants a forever relationship and you feel differently, Olver suggests the kindest thing to do is to end your relationship and allow him to find someone who will love him the way you used to or in the way that he desires.
If you can identify what it is that is making your guy so jealous, hopefully you two can work it out. If you think his jealousy is more than a little unhealthy, seriously consider getting out of the relationship before things escalate. If you’re unsure if his jealous behavior is considered abuse, the National Domestic Violence Hotline compiled a list of questions to ask yourself:
Does your partner:
- Embarrass you with put-downs?
- Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
- Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
- Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
- Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?
- Make all of the decisions?
- Prevent you from working or attending school?
- Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?
- Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?
- Threaten to commit suicide?
VIsit here for more information on abuse.
Jealousy ranges from pesky and annoying to life-threatening. If you think you’re in an abusive relationship don’t hesitate before calling 1.800.799.SAFE.
If you find yourself encountering garden-variety jealousy, use these tips to salvage the situation. Remember to keep open communication with your guy so you can recognize when your own behavior is inspiring jealousy. Decide to what degree you’re willing to alter your behavior to prevent or lessen his jealousy so there is no confusion on either side. Jealousy will always be a part of your life, but it doesn’t have to control your relationship (and it shouldn’t!). In the words of Dan Lier, co-author of 10 Secrets Every Woman Should Know from Two Guys That Do, “there are a lot of good guys out there who don't have jealousy issues... so if he doesn’t accept that he has a problem or isn’t willing to fix it, save yourself the drama and cut him loose.”