How to Deal with Jealousy in your Relationship

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Is jealousy an issue in your relationship? What do you do when the green eyed monster rears its ugly head?

The Sugar Doctor and Kia Handley discuss how to deal with jealousy in intimate relationships.

[Full Transcript Below]

You can listen to the show fortnightly live on Monday mornings from 9:30 am on ABC Newcastle at 1233AM or stream live here.

[Original recording on ABC website here.]

Kia Handley is: Not a car! Presenter ABC Newcastle. Loves vintage, Eurovision & great stories.

You can also find the incredibly talented Kia Handley on ABC  Newcastle Mornings here, Twitter @kiahandley  Facebook kiahandleyjourno and on her podcasts: This Retro Life & Let’s Talk-  Rural Mental Health, PLUS even more amazing gems here.

Episode Transcript:

Kia Handley: 

Time to delve into your mind, your love, your relationships in a completely non-personal and totally professional way, I promise!

ara Whitewood is a Relationship Coach from The Sugar Doctor, our regular guest, here to talk this morning about how to deal with jealousy and toxic relationships.

Good morning.

Tara Whitewood: Good morning!

Kia Handley: This is a big one. I feel like this is a big issue. No matter how old you are and, and, and is beyond just.... like love, right? They can be jealousy in friendship, in work colleague circles.... in everything!

Tara Whitewood: I see it a lot. And it's a, it's a sign of something else happening, I think. Yeah. I mean, we can unpack that a little bit as we go. Right. It's I think a lot of people see jealousy as being a problem. Yeah. Where I see it as maybe just being... a flag.

Is Jealousy a Compliment or a Red Flag?

Kia Handley:

So, cause, cause I've heard people say, well, jealousy is nice. It means they care about you. It means that they care what you're doing. And I feel like that's a bit problematic. Yeah.

Tara Whitewood: 

I think that's a bit problematic as well. You know to me, jealousy is a sign that there's something else going on that needs to be addressed. That you need to deal with and deal with jealousy.

I don't think it's problematic in itself.

It's a feeling that you know, from time to time, we probably all feel a little bit of, you know, "Oh, I wish I could have some of that too"

Kia Handley: 

Which is normal. Right. That, that feeling is normal. It's when it gets to a different level. Like when does that feeling become problematic? Right.

Tara Whitewood: 

Then it's how you, I mean, it's how you manage it as well when you're having that feeling; "Oh, I wish I could have a bit more of that."

Oh, okay. I'm noticing that "I wish I could have a bit more of that." How am I going to get a bit more of whatever that is? Whether it's, you know, a job or money or friends or whatever the thing is, that's flagging that for you.

It becomes problematic for you when.... when it becomes a problem. [both laugh]

What Can Jealousy Be a Symptom Of?

Kia Handley:

Wow. Super specific [both laugh]

Yeah. All right. So let's, let's drill into that a little bit deeper.

What are some of, you know, you're saying that jealousy is almost like a symptom of other things. What are the other things that might lead to that becoming a problem?

Tara Whitewood: 

I think it's more about the behavior and the actions.

  • It might indicate a lack of respect.
  • It might mean that there's some self-esteem things going on.
  • It could mean that there's trust issues happening in the relationship because, you know, sometimes that sense of jealousy is really being quite deliberately triggered by someone's partner who is, you know, behaving in a way that isn't particularly trustworthy or consistent with, with being trustworthy. So that, that can be a manipulative behavior that people employ to keep their partner on their toes. Right. So that's quite a toxic thing to do.
  • Unpredictability of people and, and all of those things can play into that toxic environment.

How Do You Know When Jealousy is Becoming a Problem?

Kia Handley: 

When do we know that jealousy is, has reached a point, especially when it's for our relationship that that needs to be addressed because it can be hard when you're inside it. Right?

Tara Whitewood:

I guess it's something that you need to be able to measure for yourself. So we all have this internal compass that tells us whether we're okay or not, you know and whether the thoughts are repeating enough and whether they're making us feel unwell.

I guess when it gets to the point where you're not trusting your partner, then then there's a problem and you need to address that. And if it's at the point where you're really finding, you know, look, this is happening on a daily or a weekly or a really regular basis, I'm having this jealousy and envy is kind of overshadowing my relationships with people. Then I think that that's something that that's worthy of being addressed. It's really time for you to deal with jealousy.

And it might just be having a conversation with a friend or a mentor or a therapist and saying, Hey, look, this is really getting in my way of feeling like I can truly connect with people.

What Does Jealousy Look Like?

Kia Handley:

Mm. Because how does jealousy show itself? Is it through fighting? Is it through, you know, when there's an issue there, is it through disagreements and arguments and yelling matches or is it easy to, in a different way

Tara Whitewood:

It can be on a whole spectrum. It can be people, some people just go completely internal and shut down, become passive aggressive. Some people quite screamy and shouty about that. Some people will make it some people punish their partners.

So that's something that you often see in a really toxic or abusive relationship is that the jealousy plays out not through being articulate or verbal about it, but that partner is punished with the silent treatment or some kind of action that lets, you know, "I'm not happy about what you just did."

I don't, I don't feel comfortable with that.

How Does Jealousy Create a Toxic Drama Cycle?

Kia Handley:

It's such a cycle, right. It's such a, an awful cycle to get stuck in because it doesn't, it doesn't go anywhere. It just loops.

Tara Whitewood: 

I call that the drama cycle.

[Read: How to Recognise a Toxic Drama Cycle]

So the drama cycle is this cycle where you have someone who's the victim, (which is often the person who's feeling jealous) someone, who's the aggressor, (who's the person who's doing the thing to them). And then someone who plays the role of the rescuer who comes in and it might be, you know it could be a friend, it could be a family member and it could also be one of those other people.

So you change roles, you know? So I might be jealous of you Kia....  But then, you know, we might have this sort of conversation where I'm jealous of you, but then I say, Oh, but it's okay. You know, I'm, so I'm rescuing that situation in that sense. And that drama cycle is really a toxic relationship cycle where no one has any real or autonomy or any agency in, in that cycle.

When Can You Bring Jealousy to Your Partner?

Kia Handley:

Is it about owning it?

Is it about, you know, saying, you know, "Tara, I felt a little bit jealous when you were talking to that person. I'm not quite sure what's going on, but can we try to nut this out together? Like I don't want to feel that way. I don't want it to lead to tensions. That's why I got a bit cranky in the car on the way home" you know, is that the best way to try to hit it on the head early?

Tara Whitewood: 

Yeah, absolutely. I think so.

And it depends on the environment in relationship. If you have an environment where you feel fear or shame, or like your, your, your input is not welcomed, then that's an abusive relationship. And that's a difficult conversation to have.

If you're in a relationship where you're just like, you, you are able to like bring that to your partner and say, Hey, that felt kind of weird. Can we work this out? Can we talk through this? Then that's a really, really valuable thing to do.

I mean, it really depends on the context. So I can think of a former phenomenally toxic relationship I was in, well, I was super jealous of this one particular friend that my partner had, but he would go and stay with her. And I had never met her. So for years he would go and stay with her and they'd go out and do things.

And I had never met her. And every time I said, "Hey, I'd feel heaps more comfortable about this. If I was part of a friendship, or even if we could all go out for dinner and I could meet her and then I'd know who this person was."

I didn't think... I still don't think that that's a great situation to put your partner in.

But then also on the sort of other end of the scale, I had a friend who was telling me recently that he wanted to spend time with some female friends -some female friends that he'd met through business and through other sort of contexts. And that his partner felt quite uncomfortable about that.

And I think there's a time where you just need to say, you know what, like we're adults. And if, if we don't have that trust, fundamental trust that you can be with someone else having coffee or food or going out or whatever it is, then, then that's in itself a big issue in our relationship

Kia Handley: (07:22):

Because relationships outside of a relationship friendships outside of like away from your partner that are, you know, maybe yours or that are a little bit closer or that, you know, that's important. Yeah. Hugely important.

Tara Whitewood: (07:34):

It takes a village to raise a child, but I always think it takes a village to, to be a human. And if we don't have those networks of support and friendship then we're, you know, we're in a position where we're alone in the world. And if something happens, if something would have happened, you don't have the support network. And it's just, it's so important.

Kia Handley: (07:53):

You are listening to ABC Newcastle on this Monday morning. Good morning to you. It's nine minutes to 10 here on on mornings. My name is Kira Hanley. My guest is Tara Wychwood relationship coach from the sugar doctor, we're talking jealousy and toxic relationships. What makes it hard to sometimes walk away from this? When, you know, you've, you've reached that point you've maybe tried, or you can do your friends and family are saying, you know, you've got to go, what are the really hard challenges to overcome to actually make that physical decision to leave?

Tara Whitewood: (08:24):

I think one of the biggest challenges is that very rarely is someone, a bad person. So we kind of need to hold these two ideas simultaneously that, that we, we extend the most generous interpretation to that person. You know, that they're doing their very best, but many people have had poor role models. They have poor skills, they don't know how to manage emotion. They don't know how to manage relationships. And the result of that is that their behavior can be really toxic and really triggering. And simultaneously, you know, that doesn't mean that they're a bad person. And also the other idea that I want you to hold is that my wellness, that all of everyone's personal wellness is paramount. So when it comes to the point where, you know, you love this person, but their behavior and their actions is toxic and it's leading to your wellness or it's detrimental to your wellness, then that's the point when you really need to be thinking either we need to go and get help now, as individuals is a really good way to start, I think

Kia Handley: (09:22):

To work on yourself. Yeah. And before you attempt to try to work on it,

Tara Whitewood: (09:26):

Go and, and, and go to some kind of therapist or some have come to some kind of conversation where you can really get not only a different perspective on maybe what's happening, because sometimes it's hard to kind of really see when you're in it. But also to develop your own tools and skills to navigate that better. The other thing that I really like about starting with separate therapy is particularly for people who are in an abusive relationship and may not realize the extent of it, that that's a much safer way to navigate that. Sometimes being in a, you know, being in a therapy session together can be can make things a lot worse. So to begin in leave, yeah, yeah. To, you know, it can really escalate the manipulation and the violence and the abuse. So if you think that you might be in that category, then a suggestion of, Hey, you know, I don't think that we're doing this as well as we could. Maybe we could both go and see someone and see if we can navigate that in that way would be, would be really helpful.

Kia Handley: (10:21):

What else do we need to remember in this, this space?

Tara Whitewood: (10:25):

I think to get really clear on what your own personal triggers are to notice, you know I, I like to go back to physiology, so notice what's happening in your body. So notice when you see that thing happening, how are you feeling? Are you feeling, you know, is your chest tight? Is your throat tight? Is your heart rate increasing? Is your stomach dropping down here? Is your stomach drop, like notice that physiology and then go, huh? Okay. That thing's happening. What what's behind that? I think talking to a really good friend is a great way to kind of bounce that off as well, to be able to say, Hey, am I overreacting here?

Kia Handley: (10:56):

Someone who's who loves you, but he's honest. Right, right.

Tara Whitewood: (11:00):

I often would call my bestie and say, Hey, am I a bit out of line here? Am I overreacting? She'll be like, yes, totally back down on the farm, you know, sit back, approach it in a different way. But I think when it, when it's something that's happening consistently and with a great deal of intensity and perhaps that escalates, you know, it's not being resolved, it's continually being escalated. Then, you know, you might just need to go and do something about that. Yeah.

Kia Handley: (11:27):

Yeah. It's a really big jealousy is such a little word, but it encompasses such a huge fear when it comes to our relationships. I really appreciate you are delving into it today. My pleasure that is Terra white woods, our regular guests here on a Monday and relationship coach at the sugar doctor.