Yasmine Ross
Written & Posted by Yasmine RossRelationship Coach, Writer

Confronting Envy: Strategies for Addressing the Green-Eyed Monster

13 Jul, 2022
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As its veins began to pulsate and its face flushed with rage we were warned to “beware of jealousy; for it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” Shakespear wasn’t wrong when visualizing the emotion of jealousy, it's an unwanted and uncomfortable emotion, and often makes us lose our sense of self. Therefore we chose to hide it, suppress it, or even deny all together that we ever even feel the slightest tint of green.

I remember the days when I’d try to convince myself that I’m the type of partner that never gets jealous: I’m easy-breezy, I go with the flow, you wanna go out with your friends till 3am sure no problem! But behind my nonchalant attitude was the reluctance to admit that feeling jealous created a power imbalance in my relationship. David Buss, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, says that feeling jealous can be “a signal that your partner is higher in mate value or that you are generally threatened or fearful that your partner might leave, so people intentionally try to suppress the expression of jealousy.” After all, no one wants to sip on a cocktail that consists of anger, anxiety, and insecurity. “This is a culture that does not tolerate that emotion,” says therapist Esther Perel, “The majority of people don’t have a conversation about jealousy, because the feeling itself is too taboo.” But let’s face it, whether you’re possessive, have trust issues, or are perfectly secure in your relationship, it is completely healthy to admit that we all get a little jealous from time to time. While jealousy can be dangerous in its extreme forms, feeling jealous is “a universal human emotion, one of many that is part of the multilayered experience of love” (Perel). In fact, addressing the green eyed monster, learning to listen to it, and understanding how to manage it, can actually help improve the relationship and even bring couples closer together.

It’s quite obvious that jealousy is seen as an unwanted and uncomfortable emotion, so why experience it at all? Michele Scheinkman, a couples therapist in New York, suggests that long-term couples can begin sleepwalking through a relationship— having a routine or feel stuck in a rut— almost as if they’re on autopilot. One outcome of such behaviors is that jealousy tends to die down over time, so when it does arise it can serve as a wake-up call to help couples come out of hibernation and ignite the spark. “It’s very interesting how many people pay no attention to their partner until someone else comes along,” Perel says. Catching someone flirting with your partner shows you that other people find your partner desirable and reminds you that you better start showing them that you desire them too!

Jealousy can also shed light on our deeper emotions, and may bring awareness to how we feel towards someone. No matter what stage your relationship is in, recognizing that you feel jealous can be a good indicator that you may care more about that person than you think.

The problem with jealousy is not the feeling but how we choose to handle it.

Productive jealousy requires both partners to shed blame and shame around the emotion so they can move from defensiveness to vulnerability. It starts with admitting to feeling jealous, realizing the emotions behind your jealousy, then communicating to your partner that you love them and just fear losing them “when you can speak from a position of vulnerability, you have a much better chance of working through it” (Scheinkman).

The green eyed monster only grows if you keep feeding it and engaging with it in a negative way. The best response is to first accept and acknowledge it, which in turn deflates its power and opens the conversation to more vulnerability where you and your partner can work through it together. Feeling jealous isn’t pathological, it’s just human.

At the end of the day, jealousy is a very vulnerable emotion. Especially if we’re doubting ourselves and already feel hurt, the last thing we want is to be vulnerable. But Perel says that giving yourself permission to really feel jealousy, and move through it, will save you months of pain. "To acknowledge jealousy is to admit love, competition, and comparison - all of which expose vulnerability." Vulnerability is how you get trust, love, and connection to grow. Processing your own jealousy and analyzing your reasons behind it is necessary to moving forward in a healthy and secure relationship.

Blog post written by Yasmine Ross, Certified Relationship Coach and Content Writer at An Elegant Mind Counselling in Vancouver

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