By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Sometimes relationship jealousy becomes pathological.
Jealousy in relationships can go from mild to off the scale, stalker type, pathological
jealousy. A little bit of jealousy seems to strengthen relationships. It’s nice to know that your partner wouldn’t want to lose you to a rival.
The level of jealousy in a relationship is affected by the level of trust. If one person in the relationship is untrustworthy, has cheated in the past, trust will be one of the casualties.
Excessive jealousy can become dangerous, even abusive. In some relationships, partners are jealous even when the facts give them no reason for the extreme level of jealousy they experience. A pathologically jealous partner may spy on their mate, going through their email, checking their phone messages and even following their partner around town. Excessively jealous partners are known to become violent and abusive.
Excessive jealousy is often reported among men in troubled relationships where it may lead to domestic violence. Pathological jealousy is often coupled with serious impairments. Drug use, alcoholism, and past histories of troubled relationships increase the risks. Unreasonable jealousy is also commonly reported among older adults with cognitive impairments. In Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the impaired person may believe their partner, who was also their caregiver, is cheating on them even when that partner is present all day long.
Intense love does not cause jealousy.
Jealous people often alibi their behaviors by saying they love the other person. Excessive pathological jealousy is not about the one who is loved. Jealous people’s behavior harms their partner and their relationship.
The sort of mild relational jealousy seen in loving couple’s results in increased attention and efforts to strengthen the relationship. Pathological jealousy results in harming your partner and efforts to control them.
Jealousy is caused by the fear of loss.
Sometimes feelings of jealousy can be functional. Jealousy’s role is to warn you when a close relationship is in jeopardy. If your partner is spending a lot of time with someone else, this may pose a threat to your relationship. Jealousy is not restricted to relationships that may turn sexual. If your partner or someone close to you become emotionally close to another person and shares with them things about you and your relationship, this can damage your intimate relationships
Jealousy is the result of insecurities.
People who are high in jealousy are insecure. They commonly believe that their partner would have many more opportunities to find a new mate then they would. That may not want their partner to leave the house and become easily upset if their partner looks too attractive. They become angry potentially violent if their partner communicates with other potential mates.
Jealousy may stem from unmet childhood needs.
Some people are chronically high in the trait of jealousy. Their high trait jealousy may be the result of adverse childhood experience which leads to mental health issues we call “attachment disorders.” If your close relationships in childhood did not meet your needs, you may feel insecure and doubt your close relationships as an adult. People who have experienced high levels of jealousy and past relationships need to work on themselves and their feelings of insecurity.
Jealousy jumps to conclusions.
The more jealousy-prone you are, the more likely you are to interpret normal events as posing a threat to your relationship. If your partner gets an occasional email or text from another person that shouldn’t trigger automatic jealous thoughts. If when your partner’s late getting home from work you assume their meeting someone else your mind may be taking you in a very bad direction.
Jealousy assumes the worst.
Jealous people are constantly looking for evidence to confirm their preconceived bias. If your partner talks to someone on the phone you assume they’re trying to make a hook up rather than assuming this is work-related or concerns financial transactions? When “Sarah” from the insurance company calls for your husband you assume it’s because she’s flirting or you think it is about an insurance policy?
Low self-esteem fuels jealousy.
People who are low in self-esteem are often high in jealousy. Their underlying assumptions is that if they lose this partner, they would have trouble finding another, while they believed that their partner has lots of choices of desirable mates. If you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s more difficult to believe that your partner wants to continue this relationship.
Stay tuned in for more posts about jealousy; it’s causes and its treatment, which is coming up soon. More information about Jealousy and its treatment is or will be at Jealousy.
David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.) Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.
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