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Jealousy: Lessons To Learn

By: Erin Rybski

What is jealousy?

Jealousy is a defensive reaction to a perceived threat in a valued relationship. It arises from a situation where one partner's involvement with an activity and/or another person goes against what the jealous person's definition of their relationship (Psychology Today, 2021). It can also be defined as the thoughts, feelings, or actions that occur in response to self-esteem or relationship threats concerning a real or imaginary romantic attraction between one’s romantic partner and a potential rival. Jealousy may be driven by low self-esteem or a poor self-image. If you don’t feel attractive and confident, it can feel difficult to believe that your partner loves and values you. Other times, jealousy can be caused by unrealistic expectations about the relationship (Gottman Institute, 2021).

What are the warning signs?

  • They want you alone and isolated, mistrustful of your friends and family

  • They are too emotionally dependent

  • They are always around or always need to be in touch

  • Monitor you on social media

  • Checking your phone or email without permission

  • Insulting you

  • Assuming that you are not attracted to them/ accusing you

  • Grilling you about your whereabouts

  • Accuse of lying without evidence

Why is it important to talk about in context to Domestic Violence?

Jealousy can lead to relationship conflict and aggression. The more often there is conflict and aggression in the relationship, the more likely it is to escalade to violence. These feelings, thoughts and beliefs of jealousy can cause the person to act aggressive, and sometimes violently, towards their partners. Over half of survivors in our community have reported that jealousy was a factor in their abusive relationship.

In our society, jealousy has been made to be a common and normal symptom of relationships. Research found in the average romantic comedy there are 5 instances of jealousy, which helps us to believe it is a normal part of a “healthy relationship” (Frampton & Linvill, 2017). A 2018 survey of 3100 adolescents found at in the last year at least 61% of them had used motional violence against their partners, and 12.9% had used physical violence against their partners (Daspe et al., 2018). We want to stop the cycle of violence. It is already effecting our youth population.

Common Myths we have been told about Jealousy

If they are jealous is means they really love me.

This is not true! Someone who loves you, cares about and values you. Jealousy brings up emotions like anger, frustration, revenge, distrust, and violence. These do not coincide with Love. People who love you respect you, trust you, and make you feel safe. .

If my partner is jealous of other people talking to me, they are just trying to protect me

This is also false! Healthy relationships include having healthy friendships. If your partner is telling you who are and are not allowed to speak to, they are telling you that they do not trust you. They are trying to assert power and control over you, which could lead to abuse and...

It’s a mistake to tell my partner about my jealous feelings.

Also false! Loving relationships are based on trust, honesty, vulnerability and authentic. Feeling jealousy could be a sign that the trust has been broken in some way and that you are not feeling safe. Don’t try and navigate these emotions by yourself and try to bring your partner into the conversation. This could be a great time to discuss what makes you feel uncomfortable and create boundaries within your relationship.

The best way to help combat jealousy

The best way to combat jealousy is understanding the differences between Unhealthy and Healthy love, Unhealthy boundaries, and Healthy boundaries.

Healthy love is-

Caring, honesty, trust, respect, openness, communication, friendship, compassion, and compromise. It allows your you to be an individual. You are able to experience true intimacy without trying to control or change your partner. The relationship allows closeness and openness. Most importantly if the relationship is no longer working there is an acceptance of it ending.

Unhealthy love is-

Fear, jealousy, violence, manipulation, intimidation, selfishness, name calling, mean jokes and pushing yourself to the side. There might be mind game and you might feel consumed by the relationship. There is little individual growth

Unhealthy Boundaries-

Unable to trust others, falling in love with a new acquaintance, lettings others define you, touching a person without asking, expecting others to fill your needs, letting other direct your life. Expecting people to be mind readers and being unwilling to accept people telling you no.

Healthy Boundaries-

Appropriate trust, staying focused on your own growth and recovery, maintaining personal values despite what others want from you, being able to say no when you feel uncomfortable, asking a person before touching them, respecting others as well as having self-respect. You are able to clearly communicate your needs and accept that you may be rejected or told no.

How can we help?

Our Services:

We offer Case management, emotional support, access to resources, and referrals to other supportive programs in the community!

Love Notes: Is a program we offer designed specifically for teens and young adults (14-24) on how to build healthy romantic relationships, prevent dating violence, and improve impulse control.

Take time to examine your relationship:

Do you feel safe? Do you feel it a healthy relationship? Do you feel loved and supported? Are you able to have honest conversations about your concerns about your partner’s jealous behaviors? If not, please reach to one of our survivor advocates, as we can help you discuss your concerns and help you decide what your next step is.

Are you struggling with jealous feelings?

Take some time to notice what triggers these feelings of jealousy? If you feel it is a problem, please seek out professional help. Cognitive behavioral therapy could be very helpful. CBT focuses on helping you to identify your “automatic thoughts”. These are the thoughts that may be popping up without you noticing. A therapist can help you to identify and challenge these thoughts and beliefs that are causing you distress. Reach out and we can help you with a referral to counseling services.


Call us: 608.364.1083 *free, confidential, and 24hrs/7 days/365yr

24/7 Text line: 608-473-1225 *free, confidential, and 24hrs/7 days/365yr


Frampton, J. R., & Linvill, D. L. (2017). Green on the Screen: Types of Jealousy and Communicative Responses to Jealousy in Romantic Comedies. Southern Communication Journal, 82(5), 298–311.

What Is the Difference Between Envy and Jealousy? | Psychology Today". Retrieved 3 July 2021.

Daspe, M.-È., Vaillancourt-Morel, M.-P., Lussier, Y., & Sabourin, S. (2018). Facebook Use, Facebook Jealousy, and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration.

CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 21(9), 549–555.


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