How do I stop feeling jealous?Jul 16, 2022
~ 3 minute read ~
Don’t try to push it away or ignore it.
Jealousy is a universal emotion. Jealousy can come up any time you are worried about the mere possibility of your partner connecting with someone else. There doesn’t even need to be an actual threat for jealousy to occur, making it quite common and prevalent in our relationships.
Jealousy taps into your fear of abandonment. But acknowledging this fear and the uncomfortable feelings surrounding it doesn’t have to feel like so terrifying.
Breathe. Your jealousy has a purpose and it can ease.
Even though jealousy is a universal emotion, we are taught to feel shame when we feel it. I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t feel shame around jealousy! It’s what you do with your jealousy that matters.
Ignoring jealousy won’t make it magically disappear; we have to nurture it. In fact, my experience shows that nurturing jealousy and using it as a valuable teacher can help us improve our relationships all around.
Learn to recognize jealousy
It’s no wonder we have so much cultural baggage and fear around jealousy! All throughout the media, we see symbols of people showing rage around jealousy and burning their ex’s photos or comparing themselves to someone their partner spoke with.
Don’t worry, you still have the power to write your own story and reframe jealousy into something helpful.
You may be thinking: Why can’t I just ignore jealousy?
Because jealousy was hard-wired into the human blueprint to keep us connecting to our primary caregiver as an infant. It was protective. And then you grew up–and it needs to grow up with you, but it doesn’t need to disappear and you don’t need to feel bad about it.
If you’ve tied jealousy to shame, you might not even recognize it when you feel it. So start recognizing when you feel jealous and take note of how it manifests in your body. Do you feel a pit in your stomach? Do you feel your heart rate increase?
Recognizing jealousy is a crucial first step toward actually feeling your emotions and reframing the story you tell yourself about jealousy. Then, we can get to the even more fun part: improving your relationship!
What is jealousy good for?
Jealousy’s most positive attribute (out of many, believe it or not) is that it can be seen as a warning light. Jealousy is an opportunity for deeper intimacy!
So, next time you find yourself feeling jealous, take a deep breath and pause before you lash out. Seeing jealousy as a warning light will allow you to stop where you are and evaluate your emotions before moving forward.
Jealousy is there to tell you you care about someone. That’s all.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a real threat to your relationship—but it’s important to remember that we can imagine a threat too. So, even if there is no objective person who might interupt your love, you can treat it as a valuable teacher and educator.
The shift from avoiding jealousy to embracing it is usually a process and often takes plenty of effort. One great asset in this quest is easier-to-enjoy emotions- like compersion.
Flip the script on jealousy
Coined by polyamorists in the 1990s, compersion is a term that describes feeling joy for another person’s joy. Just like jealousy, compersion is a universal emotion!
You’ve probably felt compersion if you feel happy for another person’s accomplishment or if you see someone post photos from a fun vacation and you live vicariously through them. Even though compersion often appears in more subtle ways than jealousy, it’s still helpful to know how it manifests in your body.
Even though the two emotions are opposites, you can actually feel compersion and jealousy simultaneously! However, just because these emotions can co-exist doesn’t mean you can magically transform your jealousy into compersion.
This is important- jealousy doesn’t turn into compersion because jealousy isn’t the raw material of compersion. Joy is the raw material of compersion… but you can make space for compersion to sit right along side jealousy!
Instead of trying to force jealousy away by ignoring it or beating yourself up, sit patiently with the discomfort of jealousy while nurturing the happiness that you feel for another. Not only is it totally normal to feel uncomfortable with this, but if you do, that’s a good sign that internal growth is happening!
Foster compersion without pressure
Although jealousy typically inspires us to turn away from each other, compersion will inspire you to turn toward others and connect.
Research shows that when polyamorous couples feel jealousy, they like to rely on a practice of compersion (Hamilton, 2019; Thouin, 2021). This practice includes consistently feeling joy for their partner’s joy but not at their own expense. Including room for your own happiness is crucial!
Yes, feel joy for their joy, even if that excludes you. But remember that compersion doesn’t have to come without boundaries. Set boundaries with your partner and ask for what you want! You can work together to design a completely personalized, fulfilling relationship. Always remember that compersion is waiting for you on the other side of jealousy.
Embracing jealousy and inviting compersion into your relationship is never a simple, easy shift- we aren’t taught the skills we need to do this well.
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