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Unhealthy Jealousy

Unhealthy jealousy differs from healthy jealousy because the person is actively seeking proof of their partner being unfaithful even when there are no actions to suggest it. In contrast, healthy jealousy is a realistic response to actions that our partner has taken to deliberately/or not evoke feelings of jealousy (e.g. being emotionally or intimately unfaithful with another). In this situation it is natural to feel jealous for a time, express it – moving on and making healthy choices about whether or not to stay in the relationship.

However, unhealthy jealousy is marked by a deep insecurity at the root of the behaviour. Although it is mostly present in intimate relationships, unhealthy jealousy can also be present between siblings and between friends or work colleagues. Intense jealousy is usually very damaging to the relationship and can also lead to anxiety and depression.

Common Symptoms of Unhealthy Jealousy include:

  • A feeling that there is a threat to the relationship from another person. This perceived threat is usually exaggerated and usually does not exist
  • Misinterprets the partner’s conversations with the opposite sex as having romantic intentions
  • Monitors the person’s actions vigilantly and performs ‘safety’ checks e.g. social media, mobile phone checking etc
  • Believes that the relationship will end soon
  • Has a visual image of this ending and the infidelity
  • Ruminating and worrying thoughts about the partner, where they are, who they are talking to
  • If partner agrees or suggest someone is attractive, this is seen as meaning they want a relationship with them and want to leave the person for them
  • Constantly seeking reassurance that they’re loved
  • Setting tests so that the partner proves their love
  • May retaliate for perceived infidelity in aggressive or passive aggressive (sulking) ways

Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy & Mindfulness Stress Reduction supports the individual to:

  • Challenge unhelpful thinking styles leading to feelings of jealousy
  • Establish healthier behavioural patterns within the relationship (includes mindfulness to observe rather than react to strong feelings of jealousy)
  • Facilitate agreed boundaries and freedoms within the relationship
  • Exploring self-esteem issues and how they may have developed – most importantly how to build self-worth
  • Changing unhelpful beliefs about the relationship and its function
  • Establishing ways to make wise decisions balancing the emotional and thinking self in decision making
  • Develop confidence around expressing feelings, wants and needs within the relationship.
  • Exploring the nature of the relationship and how to establish healthy, non-confrontational communication patterns
  • Let go of the constant need for reassurance
  • Understand that thoughts and visual thinking images are not facts. How to let go of internal unfaithful scripts/stories

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that looks at:

  • The way you think about yourself/others
  • What you think about the situation or problem you are experiencing and
  • How what you do and feel is influenced by what you think and believe. It includes a solution-focused approach to problems and supports positive change with CBT worksheets

Mindfulness Therapy is beneficial because Mindfulness supports the body and the mind.

  • Integrating Mindfulness improves mental and physical health
  • It helps to relieve stress and improves clarity of mind
  • Mindfulness is supportive in the treatment of depression, low mood, anxiety, couples conflict and stress reduction
  • Mindfulness also helps people to manage painful emotions
(Harvard Medical School)