My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year. I know he really cares about me, but I’ve been cheated on twice before and still get really jealous. Sometimes I read his text messages, and double-check his story when he goes out without me. I haven’t found anything suspicious, but I just can't help snooping around. Please help me fix this before I lose him.
Annie Roseman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
It sounds like your exes’ infidelities has affected you deeply, but you can’t carry that baggage around forever because, as you’ve seen, it will make you a little loopy! But, seriously, there's a quote I love that reads, “You will find that it is necessary to let some things go, simply for the reason that they are too heavy.” So, before I go any further, I want to stress that if your trust issues are left unresolved, this will damage every current or future relationship you’ll have. So, as painful as it might be, you need to tend to the wounds of your past relationships before they start to infect this one.
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Amanda Rausch, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Jealousy is a natural emotion that even animals experience. But, since your boyfriend hasn’t actually done anything to warrant your suspicions, the root of the issue here is definitely trust. Trust is a major component of a healthy relationship and yours won’t last long without it. It’s good that you’re aware of this bad habit, because now you can kick it before it’s too late. One good way to change course is to reframe the situation: Even though you see yourself as the victim because of your past, your boyfriend is the one who’s suffering when you violate his privacy. He deserves better, and — if you want this relationship to last — you need to be able to give that to him.
Exactly. So, that means it’s time for a sit down with your man. Even if you haven’t been caught snooping yet, it’s your responsibility to come clean if you want an honest relationship going forward. You need to take accountability for your actions and explain the Inspector Clouseau behavior. Jealousy gives a false sense of power and control, so apologize and tell him that your behavior has nothing to do with him and everything to do with you wanting this relationship to work out. Admit your fears, identify the triggers that cause your jealous moods, and tell him what you need from him in those moments to help break the cycle. This could be a great opportunity to find out his needs and be a better partner to him too. Remember that the strongest couples are those that communicate effectively and offer support. This will help you feel safer and reduce the need to sneak around.
Amanda Rausch, LMFT
I agree that you two need to talk, but to fix this itch permanently, the real work will need to be done by you alone. It’s important for you to really evaluate your feelings to see where this obsession is coming from. Jealous behavior tends to be a sign of low self-esteem and poor feelings of self worth, so you need to go back to where these feelings started and take a good look at your past relationships. Know that a man who wants to cheat will cheat regardless of who he’s with, so realize that their bad behavior was not because of anything lacking in you, but a lack of loyalty in them. You’re better off without them and wouldn’t have met the amazing guy you’re with now if it wasn’t for their dirtbag tendencies so keep looking to the light and the shadows will fall behind you.
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