*Actual results may vary depending on initial level of coolness and or presence of a beard.
I was feeling insecure/You might not love me any more/I was shivering inside/I was shivering inside….
John Lennon’s brutally honest lyrics evoke an image of a vulnerable and insecure man. It’s a beautiful song and you can’t help but admire him for wearing his heart on his sleeve and admitting his faults. I’d even go so far as to say it’s strangely adorable. It’s always nice to have someone who you know is a little jealous because of you. When you’re dating someone initially, it’s often funny to see the other person attempt to contain their jealousy. ‘Oh, you were with Mike? And, um, who’s Mike exactly?’ Everyone feels a little envy now and again. It’s healthy. It’s normal. But what happens when that jealousy becomes an issue and drives a wedge between you both?
I would know better than anyone how to deal with jealousy. Not because Jack is the jealous type, but because I am. Of course, this isn’t easy to admit but I promised to be honest and I take unenforcible promises to strangers over the internet very seriously. I can admit it. I have to admit it because it’s blatantly true. But before you start removing all boil-able bunnies from my reach, hear (or read) me out.
When I first began my relationship, I was sixteen years old. I also lived 150 miles away from Jack. Our relationship consisted of meeting up once every few months, copious amounts of text messages and protracted phone-calls. Trust, in this instance, was obviously a huge issue. Being 16, I don’t think I was mature enough to fully grasp the concept of trust. I never really knew what Jack was up to, who he was with or where he was. The text message might have read ‘In bed watching re-runs of Matlock.’ In reality, he could have been rolling cigars on the thighs of a Parisian hooker. As you can see, I can let my imagination run away with me.
Coupled with this, I’m also innately jealous. It’s not something I’m proud of but I’ve always had it in me. I remember when I started school, I hated the idea of sharing my best friend with the remainder of the class.Okay, so this is making me sound slightly Norman Bates-y but rest assured, I’m nothing like him (taxidermy freaks me out). I suppose when it comes to human nature, I’m kind of a cynic. That’s probably not a very popular thing to say, but I’ve observed a lot of deceit in my life. My parent’s marriage fell apart. (The amateur Freud’s among you are stroking your moustaches and nodding at this ‘so zis is vere ze problem starts.) I witnessed a lot of lies and hurt. Two of my best friends were guys who didn’t exactly excel at monogamy. My favourite TV shows were series like ‘The Wire’ and ‘The Sopranos’ where adultery. was more commonplace than strawberries at Wimbledon. I surrounded myself with cheating. I became such a cynic that I assumed it was inevitable that Jack would cheat? Why would he not? What made him any different to my friends,who also appeared to love their girlfriends. He was living so far away that I never would have known. I found it impossible to trust him.
So, what did I do? Well, I was very honest about it. I told him my concerns and he assured me that he loved me and that he wouldn’t dream of doing anything to jeopardise what we had. This is where it gets complicated. Even though I believed him, I still doubted it. I was wildly insecure in my looks and always felt that I wasn’t good enough for him. I think that’s basically at the bottom of most people’s jealousy: feelings of total inadequacy.
As you can imagine, I was no picnic. He was constantly badgered with: ‘Where are you going?’ ‘Who’s she?’ ‘Why is this girl’s number in your phone?’ ‘I want you to call me when you get home.’ Honestly, I was intolerable. The worst part is is that Jack actually accepted it with comments like: ‘You’re right. Guys are a**holes. I wouldn’t trust one either.’ That makes him pretty amazing, but he put up with far too much. The worst part is is that if the situation were reversed, some girls would probably be calling the behaviour ‘abusive.’ While I definitely wasn’t the worst culprit of this kind of controlling behaviour, I was still bad.
So why am I admitting this? In public? To strangers who will inevitably judge me?Because it is my flaw. I am not perfect and it is realising this intrinsic flaw that has enabled me to work on it. It’s taken a long time, a lot of patience but I’m much MUCH more relaxed now. I can honestly say I don’t remember the last time it was a problem for us. In part, it’s because I’m more mature. It’s also because I realised that I am a very lucky girl and that he has done absolutely nothing to merit my wrath.
So the whole reason for writing this was to give you, the casual reader/jealous psychopath (welcome to the club, we meet Thursdays, bring cake) some tips for dealing with (and overcoming) your intense jealousy. Remember, a little dose, fine. Stalking, not fine. And also illegal.
1. Sit down and have a really long think about why your jealous/paranoid. Has your partner really given you a good reason to be? What do you think constitutes a good reason? Or maybe, the problem begins with you and your insecurities. If you can’t come up with a legitimate reason to feel envious then that’s because there isn’t a good reason.
2. Talk to your partner. I really cannot stress the importance of this enough. I’m always surprised at the amount of times friends come to me for advice on a situation before talking to their partner. If you foresee a future with this person, you’re going to have to communicate with them. If you have a quibble to bring up, it’s best to go about it in a tactful manner. Spot the difference between these two approaches.
‘You know your friend Emma? Would you bring her around some night so I can meet her? It’d be cool if I could be friends with her, too.’
‘IF YOU EVER TALK TO THAT B**CH AGAIN, I’LL TAKE A CHAINSAW TO YOUR FACE.’
So the difference is subtle, but important. The way you approach the situation is so important.
3. Realise the damage jealousy can do. You remember that cool girl your boyfriend/girlfriend fell in love with? The one with the soft eyes and cute laugh? No? Well, neither does he. He’s left with the crazy-eyed b**ch who cackles, not giggles, CACKLES. Sometimes, jealously can actually drive someone away. So just be aware that he may not have been entertaining thoughts of greasing up his work colleague with vegetable oil (just me?) but you may just drive him to. Now, I know that this could be construed as me saying some men are driven to cheat and that justifies it. I’m not. It’s repulsive. But so is overbearing and suffocating behaviour. Luckily, I realised it in time to save my relationship.
4. Admit some home truths. You’re partner is going to look at other people. We’re hard-wired to do this. It’s Science and stuff. It doesn’t mean that we will actually act on sexual attraction. Think about the last time you were out in a busy place. Think about the amount of people you looked at and judged: ‘Hot, not, fat, tall, skinny, looks like Mr. Belding…’ We do this all the time, even subconsciously. Does it mean we want to have their babies? No. And even if you’re in a bar and a handsome/pretty stranger approaches you, does it automatically mean you’ll end up in bed with them? No. The same goes for your partner.
5. People are all different. What? Yes, really. But Zooey Deschanel is Katy Perry right? RIGHT? No, they are actually two very different people. One is talented and the other is Katy Perry. My point? Of course, some people cheat. You might be reading this and saying ‘that’s all well and good with your flowers and unicorns and total security in your relationship but my husband has just admitted to a ten woman orgy.’ I’m not saying ‘put your total trust in everyone, all the time, for the rest of your life.’ That would be stupid. You’d probably get mugged, a lot. What I am saying is: If you have been hurt, remember that everyone is different. Every relationship is also different. It’s really not fair to inflict the pain caused by someone else on someone completely undeserving of it. Some people will cheat, some will not. When someone does, it’s a decision that they make. What I mean is, there’s nothing you can do to stop that. It’s also futile to blame yourself. You’ll spend the rest of your life analysing minute details. If the relationship ends because you have been hurt, try and ensure that you are really ready for any future relationship. This means: not bringing bitterness and anger into your new relationship and remembering that this new partner wasn’t the person who hurt you.
6. Finally, remember there’s a fine line between what I think is acceptable jealousy and what I deem to be Fatal Attraction level jealousy. Every single person feels envy every now and then. Yes, even that smug friend you have who swears that they never get jealous. It’s normal. In fact, it’s healthy. It ensure we make an effort in life. Competition drives us. But, if you’re reading this while another tab is open logged into your partner’s Facebook, that’s probably what million other people are doing…but that doesn’t make it okay. So just be aware of the very fine line between cute, implied envy and Glenn Close.
So, there you go. Some free advice. And also, look at you. Look how HOT you are. now, go strut.