A little jealousy is normal, isn’t it? It’s normal and right to want some quality, full-attention, come-hither stares from your boo, especially when you’re all dolled up or feeling unusually low or haven’t seen your sweetie in a long time. Attention paid to a friend of yours or some random woman on the street at sensitive times like those can burn when they wouldn’t normally. But then what to do with the burn?
It’s easier than pie to give into the feeling and jump down his throat. We all have a little crazy in us: some of us get snippy, some of us throw plates. It’s easy to guess that neither passive aggressive sarcasm nor violent blowouts make for a happy ending. We all know the crazy happens, and so we all know the damage it does and the days, weeks, sometimes months of repair it takes to make it right and regain trust of each other.
Maybe you’ve already blown a few relationships this way or maybe you happen to be one of the lucky ones who can think before you say or do anything you regret. In either case, you’re probably in a place where that initial jealousy burn leads you to a whole lot of questions (instead of broken porcelain). Those questions are important: Is the reaction based on something else in our relationship or just a random moment of weakness? Should I keep quiet and take a moment to put things in perspective or should we talk it out? Does he need to know how I feel? How much can he really help if he does know?
The tricky part about jealousy is figuring out how much of it is just you and how much of it is his insensitivity or untrustworthiness. It’s complicated whichever way you look at it, and it can be very difficult to suss out, especially if you’re in a long term relationship and the two of you care about each other. It usually only does further damage to sum up circumstances like this with truisms and stereotypes: Men will be men. This doesn’t help you get to know your man, yourself, or your relationship, and all three are really complex.
So let’s say it’s just a bad day. Then there are a whole other slew of questions worth asking: Are you taking out bad feelings on him? Are you taking care of yourself and your basic needs—eating well, getting rest, exercising, etc.? What can you do for yourself to feel beautiful and special for the day, regardless of where his eyes inexplicably fall?
But what if it’s a little more complicated on your end. Ask yourself these questions: Is past baggage (cheaters, daddy issues, whatever) coloring the way you see his behavior? Are you angry because you don’t get what you need from him when life gets a little grating? Are you still into him, or has interest petered out and left the relationship neglected, passing it off with excuses like busy schedules or being tired or whatever?
Already, if it’s just you, there are so many legit needs and desires to tend to, and it’s totally up to you how you decide to do it. Whatever way you decide though, will take thought, attention, and time.
A glitch in the relationship is a whole other bag of tricks. Is he the one who’s lost interest or gotten lazy in the relationship? Are you in a weak spot and he’s doing a shit job of supporting you through it? Are you both going through transitions—job changes, family stuff, personal growing pains—that are causing you to seek out quick relief—pints of ice cream, pretty men/women, a few extra beers a week? In this case, it’s worth talking about and how you talk about it can often make the difference between staying together or not.
Such a conversation can be messy because you’re both caught in potentially embarrassing positions—him because maybe he couldn’t control himself the way he’d like or because he might feel pigeonholed in those offensive and dated Married-With-Children-esque ways of thinking about male behavior, and you because jealous girlfriend isn’t the most flattering role. It can reek of insecurity and Melrose-Place-ish melodrama. Praise be to Hollywood for muddling complex relationships further! But I digress.
It’s most important that everyone knows what their needs are, which of them can be fulfilled independently, and which are things needed from the other person. If you start by asking yourself the hard, honest, direct questions, the conversation with your partner can be really productive and bring the two of you even closer.