Your Call: How Do You Deal with Jealousy?

Dear Em & Lo,

Jealously is the most perplexing emotion that I have ever felt! My boyfriend and I have been dating seriously for six months. He is the one who brought up the idea of moving in together and marriage and kids. All ideas that caught me off guard, but it tells me that he is really committed to me and cares about me. And it makes me smile. However, even in our secure relationship, I get so jealous when he hangs out with one of our mutual girl friends! I KNOW he will not cheat on me, and I KNOW he is not going to do anything hokey with her, so why do I get jealous when we hang out and he talks to her more? Ack! Is there something wrong with me?!?

— Green Eyed Monster

How should G.E.M. deal with her jealousy issues? Let her know in the comments below.


  1. I think this comment section is starting to bear some similarity to the “can married people have opposite sex friends?” question, which addressed issues of jealousy. While I think it’s possible to work on extreme jealous reactions, which, as Johnny describes, really only hurt you, and aren’t productive or based in fact in any way (being angry with someone you’ve never met, like a new BF), sometimes, let’s admit, your significant other is simply being insensitive/ a dick. I’m not saying that’s the case here, but it does happen, and once you are part of a committed couple, I think it’s important to not do things that will cause your S.O. a lot of pain, and that may mean not spending one-on-one time with an opposite sex friend. To me, it really boils down to what’s respectful to your partner, and also getting to know them well enough that you are familiar with their behaviour (like in ML’s case, where she knows her husband likes to chat with attractive women, but it’s not done to play mind games with ML, nor is it done repeatedly with one woman in particular). So, while it would be unreasonable to say GEM’s BF should never talk to his female friends, at some point I think he needs to address the fact that a person’s behaviour does need to change in certain ways once they are in a committed relationship. (This opinion was met with a fair amount of disagreement in the “married people” comment section, though!)

  2. @Dave W
    Oh, I don’t actually freak out at people (I more get too passive!) so that wasn’t what I meant. I meant use the jealousy as a sign to examine your relationship and feelings and see if it’s indicative of something more.

  3. Really good points, JenParis! Totally agree about never using her as a confidant…I did that once, was whining about a problem, and the response was an eager “Really?!” Ugh…

  4. I’d recommend attempting to hang around with the female friend a bit more. Ask her to do stuff, invite her to go to the movies, have a spa day, etc. Face what is threatening you.

    If she spends all of the time you are together asking about your partner, bringing him up constantly, etc…then you will know that you have every reason to be on guard. Does she mention a guy she likes? Well, when, she may just want his male perspective on how she should read the cute guy’s signals or actions.

    When you are all ou together, does she try to outdo you or criticize you in a passive aggressive way? Does she try to start arguments or take his side when she sees you aren’t getting along? Or does she, instead, try to get both of you to just smooth things over and be happy?

    The answers to those questions should calm your fears. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend is ever bringing your relationship problems up with her, seeing as she hangs out with him alone.

    That could be disastrous as he may not know if this means you are looking to ‘steal her away’ or get her on your side or if you are hinting on leaving. Which, unfortunately, could cause him to BEGIN to look towards her as the runner up if things between the two of you do not work out.

    Now,if either of them hedges whenever you invite her to hang out with you alone, then that might also raise a few red flags.

    Good luck!

  5. Jen,

    I disagree that jealousy serves a purpose. People who have purged jealousy from their emotional repertoire can still sense that something is not right. They just choose to address the situation with an appropriate remedy and not open up a can of whup-ass. Unless, of course, it’s called for.

  6. I think it’s true that there’s an element of age/wisdom where jealousy is concerned. I used to get insanely jealous early in my marriage (my husband taught, and was around a lot of female students/colleagues), I can’t believe now what used to turn my crank back then, but I know I’ve gotten to a very different place now. I do get vibes now and then from other women, and feel that they act inappropriately at times (too much attention), but I guess now I realize that he isn’t leading them on, and if anything, it’s just a bit of an ego boost for him (not all that different from when we aging mummies get the once-over in the Costco line-up, I suppose…yes, my life is just that exciting ๐Ÿ™ ) I have, recently, pointed out instances to my husband where I’ve said “I bet if I did that with your guy friend, you wouldn’t like it,” that’s about as vocal as I get these days, and the response is usually, “yeah, you’re right.” So, for the letter writer, it depends on what kind of guy your BF is: is he a naturally charming, flirtatious guy? Does he flirt with 65 year old women in the grocery check-out? If so, it’s probably harmless, he’s in his element, so to speak. Or is he seeking out a couple of specific people and giving them a lot of attention while you’re there? Perhaps he simply enjoys the slightly sexual banter they have, but doesn’t realize he’s hurting your feelings, or maybe he’s loving the attention from them. Some guys will do that (subconsciously) to prove to you that they are desirable to other people (if they are feeling neglected by you.) Just a thought, but if you’re now living together, you’re dealing with the stresses of that (who cleans what, cooks, etc.) and I know for me, early on, I hadn’t quite figured out that nothing short of a brain transplant would get my husband to clean stuff up (now I don’t stress about it, and just mow the grass that grows on the pile of clothes on his side of the bed…) Anyway, maybe I’m off base, but sometimes guys like hanging out with women who are all about them, who laugh at their jokes, and think they walk on water (who wouldn’t?), and never ask them to clean the toilet. I’m NOT saying it’s right, but it happens. So, this could be part of the reason. But, if you feel like he’s getting plenty of positive attention from you at home, and a minimum of nagging (lots of sex goes without saying), the next time you’re out, if he chats up his female friends, I’d drift off and find some cute guys to talk to, just chit chatting, not making a big deal of it. He might find he’s spending more time watching you than chatting with his chick friends, which might be the wake-up call he needs.

  7. Jealousy can a) be negative and from a place of insecurity (basically I believe what everyone else said) or b) your instinct telling you SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.

    Now if it’s (a) then yes, work on yourself, figure out why you don’t feel comfortable etc.

    But it can be (b). That doesn’t mean he is cheating on you, just your gut telling you that something is weird with this set up. Maybe she likes him and you wonder why he likes that attention. Maybe anything.

    My point is that jealousy is natural because it serves a purpose. People do lie. People you love lie. People who love you can lie. It sucks, but our subconscious is there to help us weed through everything. Don’t discount it before you figure out where it’s coming from.

  8. Communication is key. It is perfectly okay to tell your boyfriend “I’ve been feeling jealous and insecure lately; can I have a special cuddle session?” Unfortunately jealousy is a normal emotion in our culture of possession, and my opinion is the only way to deal with it is together, if both parts of a couple are serious about making the relationship work. Just because jealously has become normalized doesn’t mean it is something you have to experience for the rest of your life. You and your boyfriend can learn to make it go away.

    I was really able to work on my jealousy issues after reading “The Ethical Slut,” a book I highly recommend to a lot of people. Some of the themes are not for everybody, but it contains a lot of amazing discussions about how to communicate in relationships and how to recognize and accept your feelings, whatever they may be.

  9. Aw, Johnny, I feel bad you suffered like that. You puked, you were so upset? Here’s a cyberhug. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad you got it sorted out.

    As for me, I don’t get too jealous. I used to, when I was about 17 or 18. I trust My Man, and even though he’s a huge flirt. (Go to party or out in public, Find Hottest Women in Room, Where will you find My Man, if he leaves my side? My Man will be next to said Hot Woman trying to make her laugh, she is usually laughing.) Women LIKE him, it’s innocent. Men like me (most of the time, if their egos aren’t too big, I’m kinda scary to some guys) it’s innocent.

    HE gets jealous, sometimes, (much less than he used to) but I have it in hand.

    We both know the other isn’t going anywhere, so it’s not really an issue.

    GEM, if you KNOW he loves you and has no intention of leaving, try to leave that Monster alone. It can make you do and think horrible things. It can drive you crazy. It can doom an otherwise good relationship. Maybe someone gave you a good reason not to trust them in the past, I understand, but not all men are like that. There’s a lot of Good Guys out there. If you know you have one of them, just let the thoughts leave your mind.

    As for Johnny’s suggestion (and I often agree with Johnny) DON’T imagine your dude with this girl. I KNOW this works for men, many men like to imagine watching their lady with an other guy, but many younger women can’t handle that image. Just let it go……if you really think about jealousy it in detail, it’s all you CAN do. Let It Go..the rest of what Johnny said was the best info.

    There are NO good actions that Jealousy causes you to do. THINK about the trouble, that would have occurred, if you acted on your jealousy. Just let it go, sweetie.

    I’ll tell you a story, when I was about 17 The Man and I went to a wedding. The chick he was standing up with was flirting with him like crazy the entire evening, despite My Man being with me, her knowing that. He claimed he “had no idea” the chick was hitting on him. I was burning up with rage (I was young.) A few days later I was at the Mall, and this girl was standing RIGHT in front of my CAR as I was looking for a parking place.

    A little evil place inside me said, “If you hit the bitch, it will look like an accident!” OMG, what a wake up call. I parked the car and sat myself down and said, “No more of this shit, L. You are out of hand. This jealousy is making you think EVIL things. STOP IT!” I had only one more episode of jealousy, and it was deserved, I studied it, realized it was stupid, and then I let it go.

    Jealousy will bring you nothing but pain. Let it go.

  10. I tend to disagree, I think if she knows it unfounded, and would like to stop, talking to her BF makes a lot of sense.
    At the very least if she’s been making unconscious remarks or anything of that matter towards either her significant other, or her friends it’ll be explained.
    Heck, who knows, maybe he’ll even be able to help her.

    Also, I don’t really see how it’s worth thinking about him with another women in an erotic way would be helpful. If she doesn’t see it as a turn on, forcing herself to think of it probably will do more harm than good I’d think.

  11. Jealousy is a normal emotion. Unfortunately. It comes from our basest impulses to posess, control, own, win, etc. It is all about ego. It’s childish. And it’s POWERFUL. I’m not generally a very emotional guy, but man, jealousy has pushed me right up to the edge.

    I dealt with jealousy by expunging it from my psyche. It has reduced me to a raving fucking lunatic at times. It has threatened my mental and physical health, OTHER peoples’ mental and physical health, and therefor, my freedom. There just isn’t room in my head for jealousy. It’d be my undoing.

    Specifically: Johnny goes through breakup. Ex starts seeing new guy. Normal feelings ouf jealousy ensue. But that’s not good enough for mean Ex, who makes absolutely sure she rubs it ALL in long-suffering Johnny’s face. Johnny can’t sleep, pukes up anything he eats, raves about it to anyone who will listen. Johnny soon goes to shrink and starts taking meds to supress fantasies of assaulting New Guy.

    But wtf did New Guy ever do to me? NOTHING. Did I actually WANT to be with mean ex anymore? NO. So why the meltdown? Pure dick-swinging contest, that’s why. RIDICULOUS. And I knew it, thankfully, and had the good sense to seek treatment. Some guys – and girls – actually act on those horrible impulses.

    It’s been a years-long journey, but after much work on myself (which I’m not gonna go into unless someone really wants to know) I basically don’t feel it anymore.

    OP, your jealousy is clearly unwarranted. You’re self-aware enough to know it. Suffer in silence, first of all – your BF isn’t doing anything wrong and shouldn’t have to deal with your basest, unfounded emotions.

    Then second… it doesn’t turn you on to think of your BF with another woman? Not even a little, purely on a fantasy level? Go down that road. Fantasize about your dude with someone else. See where that takes you.

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