How to Stop Being Jealous

How to Stop Being Jealous
José Padilla

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist José Padilla.

Written by Yamila Papa

Last update: 07 June, 2023

It’s difficult to recognize your own jealousy. However, it’s the first step to stop being a jealous person. Jealousy is a destructive feeling for those who experience it. It’s also detrimental to their relationships.

If you’re a naturally jealous person, you probably won’t accept that you’re suffering from this problem. However, the external signs are easy to spot. For example, messages from your partner, a culture that fuels jealousy, warnings from your friends and family, and so on. In fact, freeing yourself from jealousy doesn’t only involve a fight against yourself.

Much of the problem lies in a lack of confidence, either in yourself or in others. Consequently, in order to conquer jealousy, you must review your values in depth and work on certain personal aspects so you can overcome it. In this article, we’ll give you some guidelines.

“Jealousy sees things always with magnifying glasses which make little things large, of dwarfs giants, of suspicions truths.” 

-Miguel de Cervantes-

The purpose of jealousy

Jealousy, like any other emotion, has a reason for being. Indeed, it makes perfect sense within human ethology. After all, we’re a gregarious species and we form strong bonds among our equals. Jealousy appears when you feel threatened that someone you love is going to abandon you, almost always with the intention of forming a new relationship.

When we feel jealous, our instincts push us to keep our loved ones close. Consequently, our genes are perpetuated, and the chance of the survival of our social group increases.

The problem with this is that jealousy has a component of possessiveness. And, when this feeling that the other person belongs to you becomes the central axis of your relationship, jealousy becomes harmful. Although it’s a natural emotion, this doesn’t justify behavior that harms another person.

The psychological profile of a jealous person

What does it mean to be a jealous person? Where’s the line between natural emotion and harmful jealousy? If you’re a jealous person, you’ll exhibit the following behaviors:

  • You frequently feel that your loved one is being unfaithful (in any form).
  • Despite evidence to the contrary, your feelings of jealousy persist. Moreover, you find details to perpetuate them.
  • You exhibit controlling behavior. For example, checking your cell phone, criticizing mutual friends, etc.
  • You experience fear and anguish about losing your loved one.
  • You feel insecure about your own worth. You project this by your jealousy.
  • You experience distorted thoughts and cognitive biases that promote the idea that you’re being betrayed.

Jealousy: pathological jealousy

Knowing how to measure how far these behaviors go is essential if you want to stop being a jealous person. You may simply need to reflect and change some of your habits. On the other hand, you might require professional help. If this is the case, your jealousy has become pathological. It’s identified as follows:

  • At the cognitive level. Your irrational thoughts become delusional. You make constant comparisons and experience intense emotions of anguish, anger, fear, and nervousness. Furthermore, you’re on permanent alert. You also have an excessive fear of losing your partner and a tendency to impulsive behavior.
  • At the physiological level. You suffer insomnia, palpitations, gastric discomfort, and other physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.
  • At the behavioral level. You demonstrate controlling behavior. For instance, you might never leave your partner alone or forbid them to interact with others. You may even resort to physical violence.

You may also like to read Jealousy Among Friends

How to stop being jealous

We can probably say that there’s no 100 percent effective cure for jealousy. Indeed, as we mentioned earlier, it’s a natural emotion. Therefore, you need to do some work on your behavior and ideas. Remember that social support is really important if you want to stop being a jealous person. There are also more actions you can carry out:

1. Accept your emotions

This is the first step, although it isn’t easy. It doesn’t only mean accepting your own emotions but taking responsibility for the harmful actions that you’ve carried out because of your jealousy. So, take some time to reflect and process what you’re feeling.

2. Lean on others

This doesn’t mean that those who’ve suffered due to your jealousy should pity you. It means opening up to your loved ones, showing yourself to be vulnerable, and making it clear that you want to change and repair your actions. This is also a difficult step, as it isn’t easy to show your weaknesses in the middle of an open conflict.

Try to find the right moment and use the right words.

3. Listen

Listening is the next step to cease being a jealous person. Others have the right to express themselves and that information will be really useful for you to change. Accept their words and their emotions and initiate a constructive and positive dialogue.

Building healthy relationships is everyone’s business. If your jealousy takes over, no one is behind the wheel, not even you.

4. Work on your self-esteem

Remember that part of your jealousy comes from your insecurity and lack of self-esteem. Therefore, one of your tasks should be to strengthen that part of your identity. You’re a valid person, sufficient and worthy of love. If someone abandons you, it doesn’t mean you’re worth any less, it’s just that, sometimes, people aren’t compatible.

5. Check your belief system

When jealousy takes control of your relationships, it may be linked to your upbringing and the culture in which you live. After all, we live in a society where relationships are conceived as belongings. Therefore, on a psychological level, it’s possible that you might feel that you’ve been ‘robbed’.

However, a healthy relationship doesn’t involve possessions, but boundaries and agreements. If you’re a monogamous person and want a close relationship, it’s best that you find someone who works in the same way. Then, there’ll be no infidelity and breaking of agreements that lead to the end of the relationship, due to you trying to keep them by your side.

You might be interested to read Narcissistic Jealousy in Couples

To stop being jealous, visit a psychologist

Finally, it’s worth noting the usefulness of visiting a psychology professional to help you eliminate jealousy from your relationships. In these safe spaces, work is done at all levels, from cognitive to behavioral, to deal with excessive and harmful feelings of jealousy.

Whe it comes to jealousy, disorders such as depression or anxiety may also appear. Or, jealousy may be the result of clinical conditions such as personality disorders or addictions.

If you’ve made the decision to change, you may already be immersed in conflicts with your loved ones. Therefore, consider going to couples or family therapy to rebuild your happiness. In fact, it’s possible to feel everything you have inside without losing the happiness of being by the side of the person you love the most.

Episodes of pathological jealousy are those that require the most attention. A study published in Psychiatry warns that, in the long term, these pose dangerous risks for the individual, the partner, and the real or imagined rival. In certain contexts, the use of antipsychotic medications and interventions aimed at improving the self-esteem of both partners may be considered.

Overcoming jealousy

Jealousy is a normal emotional reaction, at least it is when you have some control over it and when it hasn’t crossed the border into the irrational. Otherwise, it becomes pathological, delusional, and irrational jealousy. Seeking support is always the best course of action, especially if you find this emotion is hindering aspects of your daily life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.