On Dealing With Jealousy In Your Relationship

Virtually everyone has felt jealousy at some point in their lives, and typically the most extreme types of jealousy can be found in our intimate relationships. This usually takes the form of constant watching/spying on your partner (i.e. looking through texts, e-mails, facebook messages), intrusive and/or obsessive thoughts leading to feelings of anxiety, frequent arguments, and feelings of inadequacy.

Jealousy can be treated using an REBT approach. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy focuses on the irrational, often distorted, “stories” that we tell ourselves - the automatic thoughts that our minds quickly jump to, which then leave us feeling distressed. Typically, there is little to no evidence that these beliefs are actually true - rather, they are deeply rooted fears and insecurities about ourselves, that repeatedly manifest in our everyday lives. We also call them “core beliefs”, and many of those about relationships are instilled in us from an early age by our society. With help from an REBT therapist, you can work through jealousy and navigate your relationships successfully.

Step 1: Identify your irrational beliefs. We sometimes refer to this as the “bullshit” that we tell ourselves - all of the negative that crowds our head on a daily basis, bringing us down and confusing us even further about a situation. Perhaps, when you observe your partner looking at someone else who is attractive, your mind immediately jumps to “I must not be [pretty, smart, sexy, etc] enough for them”; “They’re just going to find someone else and leave me anyway”, or “They should desire ME and ME ONLY”.

Step 2: Understand how your thoughts are connected to your emotions and behaviors. Notice what feelings arise when your automatic thoughts start generating - chances are, they are distressing and often lead to interpersonal difficulties with your partners as well. Understanding how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all connected helps you realize that you have the power to change the way you feel.

Step 3: Dispute and debate your distortions. With the help of an REBT therapist, you can “check the facts” - devise thought experiments to challenge your thoughts and generate new, more accurate and helpful cognitions.

Contact an REBT therapist today to start working towards meaningful, long-lasting change.


Dana is a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York.