Fact: "Jealousy is never part of a healthy relationship," says Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint For A Lasting Marriage. So, could jealously be ruining your relationship? Look for these five signs to see.
1. You're snooping through your partner's phone.
You also can't keep your sneaky hands off his computer, pockets, and car. In fact, "whenever you have access to these items you compulsively search through them," describes Doares. "You may even force yourself to stay up and check after they are asleep." Unfortunately, you're not just being vigilant. "Relationships are built on trust, and there is no trust here," she says. "Eventually you will find something that proves you were right, or they will catch you snooping and the relationship ends."
2. You read double meanings into your partner's messages from others.
Every time his phone dings with a new text from his female friend, you make a point to know what it says, and find a reason that two-sentence text proves he's cheating. "Because you already believe the worst, nothing your partner will say will matter," Doares says, "and as a result, you will force them to choose between you and this person. If they choose the other person, then you will be validated that there was something going on. And if they choose you, the process continues until they have finally had enough or actually do meet someone else who doesn't question them all the time."
3. You try to isolate your partner and try to control their every move.
Why? Because as Doares explains, "if you can just watch them 24-hours a day, you can keep them from any wrong behavior. Neither of you will ever have a moment's peace, but that won't matter because you will be together." What's worse, she says, "you use your love for them as an excuse for limiting their life and convince both of you that no one will ever love them like you do. But this isn't love, it's manipulation. Short of locking them up, you won't be able to continue, and they will eventually talk with someone who will help them see how unhealthy this is and they will leave."
4. You freak out if they don't immediately call or text you back.
You sent a text — two minutes ago — and you still don't have a response. "When you don't know what is happening, you create the worst scenario possible," describes Doares. Of course, when your partner finally does respond, you blast him or her for being rude and inconsiderate. "They get defensive," continues Doares, "which is taken as proof you were right to be upset. And they can't prove they weren't doing anything inappropriate, so the cycle continues. You spend your energy being upset and they spend theirs fighting off attacks — and there is none left for love and connection."
5. You constantly seek reassurance.
Yet when your partner reassures you he loves and wants to be with you, you don't believe him. "You ask if they love you, if they really love you," says Doares. "You ask if they like other people more than you. You want to know if they find other people more interesting. You make denigrating comments about yourself and hope they will say you're wrong. And they keep trying to fill a hole that can't be filled." After time, your partner may stop trying to give you compliments at all. "It's a no win situation for you both and an unhealthy pattern that will make a happy relationship impossible," she says.
If you spot any of these signs in your own relationship, it's time to delve deeper to see why you (or your partner) might be behaving this way. "Feelings of jealousy should serve as warnings," says Doares. "Sometimes your intuition is correct and something is going on. But if you have been jealous in all your relationships, then it is probably more about you than whoever you are with. Your fear-based behavior can eventually create the result — the end of the relationship — you are most trying to avoid. Healthy relationships are based on the two people wanting to be together, not one needing to be."