How to Deal With a Jealous Partner (Without Breaking Up)

February 7, 2019 Relationships
jealous partner

It was the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, who originally referred to jealousy as “the green-eyed monster.” Shakespeare knew a thing or two about human emotions. Even if you are struggling to deal with jealousy in a romantic relationship, it’s important to remember that we all get jealous once in a while.

However, if your partner’s jealousy is taking a serious toll on your mental health, or the health of the relationship, it’s time to make a change. You might think the only course of action is to go your separate ways, but there are a few tactics to try first. Read on to learn how to deal with a jealous partner without making the situation worse — and without breaking up!

First, Figure Out Why Your Partner Is Jealous

There are plenty of valid reasons why someone might feel jealous. It’s quite possible that your partner has been cheated on in the past. If that’s the case, he might simply be gun shy about trusting someone he loves and is scared to lose.

Another common explanation for jealousy is that your partner is insecure or suffers from low self-esteem. Somewhere deep down, he might find it hard to believe that a catch like you would want to be with a loser like him.

Remember that these probably aren’t conscious thoughts, so it might not occur to your guy that he’s even harboring such feelings. If your sig-o can’t handle the thought of you talking to another guy, ask yourself why. Or better yet, ask him. 

You’re On the Same Team

Are you in an adversarial relationship? Sure, every partnership can seem like a battle of the wills at times. But if you constantly feel as though the two of you are going head to head, well, that’s not the most healthy way to be.

Sometimes a solution is as simple as remembering that the two of you want the same thing: a healthy, happy partnership. Of course, if you differ about the fundamentals — say he wants kids and you don’t, or you are looking for a commitment that he’s not yet ready to make — then you’re going to have to face that fact sooner or later.

If you are both on the same page, but still lock horns over small issues, it’s worth a reminder to act like teammates with the same goal.

It’s Healthy to Set Boundaries

Just because you share a bed doesn’t mean that all bets are off when it comes to personal boundaries. It is absolutely OK to set some guidelines and to get firm about what kind of behavior you will permit in a relationship.

Of course, you are also going to have to abide by any boundaries that your partner may set. This could require some negotiations. It’s almost certainly going to require compromise. 

Before entering into a discussion around boundaries, it’s a smart idea to take stock and decide what you are willing to give up for the sake of the relationship. If your partner asks you to stop attending social events without him, for example, will you be willing to do that? What about discontinuing certain friendships? 

All relationships require give and take — within the confines of healthy boundaries.

When Your Partner Accuses You

A jealous partner is likely to accuse you of betrayal. He might believe that you are attracted to other men. He could level accusations that you are sneaking around or lying to him about your whereabouts or activities. Or he might think that you are planning to leave him.

Going on the defensive is bound to make matters worse. Resist the urge to deny everything loudly or to respond in anger. Take a deep breath — or several deep breaths, if necessary. Then talk to him calmly and truthfully.

If it’s true that you’re considering ending the relationship, now is the time to be honest. Tell your partner that his jealousy is driving a wedge between you, and offer him the chance to steer a different course. If he continues to argue, accuse, and fly off the handle, it might be best for both of you to take a time-out.

How long that time-out lasts is ultimately up to you.

Communication Is Key

This is true of all relationships, whether there is jealousy present or not. Neither of you are mind readers, and expecting another person to know how you are feeling is unrealistic. So talk to each other. A lot.

Before you sit down to talk about serious matters, agree on some ground rules. Again, remember that you and your partner are working toward the same goal; this isn’t a battle or a winner-take-all situation. 

If it’s extremely difficult to have a productive conversation, or if either one of you shuts down and simply can’t do it, consider going to couples counseling. This is not a sign of failure. It’s just another tool in your relationship toolkit, and it can really help.

Change Takes Time

Overcoming jealousy is going to take your partner some time. It will require patience on your part. In the coming months, it may feel like you are taking one step forward and then two (or even three!) steps back. 

It’s also probable that you will need to revisit the issue and reiterate your concerns. Encourage your partner to keep talking about his feelings — to you, to his friends, or to a professional counselor. When it comes to working through difficult emotions or the problems in a relationship, there’s no such thing as too much communication.

Final Thoughts on Having a Jealous Partner

Jealousy can be a minor hurdle or a dealbreaker. Sometimes, it is difficult to know which! Figure it out with lots of open, honest communication, some soul-searching on both your parts, healthy boundaries within the relationship, and plenty of kindness.

After a difficult conversation with a jealous partner, you might need to reconnect. Check out our list of romantic date night ideas to help you rekindle that old spark!