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How to cope with jealousy in a relationship

Julia Faulks / 21 April 2016 ( 06 September 2019 )

Read our tips for coping with jealousy in a relationship, including what you can do to try and make things better.

Jealous partner
Jealousy can eat away at a relationship

At first your partner’s jealousy might have been endearing, but now it’s getting out of hand and you feel like you are constantly in the doghouse. How can you reassure your partner that they can trust you and what should you do if things start to get out of hand?

Whether or not jealousy gets easier as we get older has been the question of recent studies. One recent paper published in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology revealed that eight out of 10 people under 30 said they had felt jealous in the past year, compared to seven out of 10 over-50s.

How to rebuild trust in a relationship

So what is jealousy?

Jealousy is a natural emotion – in small amounts it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in some cases it can be difficult to control. It can happen in any sort of relationship, whether it’s romantic or not and could seriously affect your health, making you feel very stressed, paranoid and anxious.

When jealousy gets out of hand

There may be many signs that your partner’s jealousy is getting out of hand. For example, they may be experiencing any or all of the following:

• Anger

• Anxiety

• Paranoia

• Oversensitivity

• Possessiveness

These reactions can leave you feeling exhausted, angry and hurt. Jealousy is also extremely draining. Having to constantly reassure your partner that there is nothing for them to worry about can put a big strain on your relationship.

“It’s important that the person who is approaching their partner feels safe. If you are frightened or afraid that your partner may overreact then it may be better to get some individual help first to help you learn how to deal with it,” says Paul Leake, counsellor with Relate.

“The earlier you can raise the problem the better, because this way it has less of a chance to become a regular pattern of behaviour. Writing a letter is usually a last resort as it this implies that you can’t say what you need to say face-to-face,” he adds.

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What you can do to make things better

Talk to your partner

Broaching the subject of jealousy will more often than not lead to an argument, so it’s important that you find the right time to do this and set any ground rules. You also need to be honest with yourself about whether your behaviour has given your partner cause to be jealous, or whether the insecurity really does lie with them.

Encourage them to seek help

If you can urge your partner to seek help by speaking to their GP, they may be referred to a counsellor or therapist. However often getting someone to admit they have a problem is the hardest part. “The partner who is jealous needs to recognise that this is their problem and they need to try and deal with it,” says Paul.

Accept the relationship for what it is

Ultimately you can’t control the way someone feels, nor can you change who you love. It’s up to you to decide if you can accept them for who they are. “It’s about personal safety and respect in a relationship – if this is a real issue, then it may be safer to get out before things turn serious,” adds Paul.

How to handle envy

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.