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Jealousy is a deeply human emotion that can be overwhelming and difficult to deal with. But what exactly is jealousy? And how can we deal with it in a healthy way?

What is jealousy?

In its basic form, jealousy is a fear of losing something valuable, often a person, to another. It can be a partner, a friend, or even a colleague’s success. Jealousy is often triggered by feelings of insecurity or an inferiority complex.

Signs of jealousy

Jealousy can manifest itself in many ways, including:

  • Excessive need for control
  • Envy
  • Unfounded suspicions of infidelity
  • Increased irritability

These signs can differ depending on the individual and the situation.

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Different types

Jealousy is not a constant emotion and can come in different forms:

  • Sexual jealousy: Fear of a partner’s sexual attraction to someone else.
  • Emotional jealousy: Concern about a partner’s emotional bond with another person.
  • Professional jealousy: Jealousy of someone’s professional success.
  • Exclusionary jealousy: A fear of being left out, not prioritized or deprived of time of attention from the partner.

These types of jealousy can overlap and create complex emotional patterns.

Managing jealousy

Dealing with jealousy is a process that requires self-awareness and sometimes professional help, such as from our psychologists or therapists. Here are some steps to deal with the feeling:

  • Acknowledge the feeling: The first step is to recognize that you are feeling jealous.
  • Reflect on the reasons: Try to understand why you feel this way.
  • Communication: Talk about your feelings with someone you trust.
  • Seek professional help: Sometimes it may be appropriate to seek help from a psychologist.

When jealousy becomes dangerous

In some cases, jealousy can develop into morbid or even pathological jealousy. This can lead to destructive behaviors and serious relationship problems. In these cases, it is important to seek professional help. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between normal feelings of jealousy and those that are morbid or pathological. The pathological variant is characterized by extreme behaviour and may require more intensive therapeutic intervention, sometimes even medication.

Jealousy in relationships

Jealousy can be particularly challenging in romantic relationships. It is important to remember that this behavior is not a sign of love, but rather a signal of insecurity and fear. Working through these feelings, either by yourself or with a partner, is essential for a healthy relationship.

Build self-esteem

A strong self-esteem is an important factor in reducing this feeling. Working on self-love and self-acceptance can be an important part of the process of dealing with jealousy.

The perspective of psychology

From a psychological perspective, jealousy is a complex emotion that is often rooted in deeper emotional issues such as insecurity, low self-esteem or past experiences of loss or betrayal. It is important to understand that this is not just an external problem but often a reflection of our own internal conflicts and fears.


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Retroactive jealousy

An interesting phenomenon in this area is retroactive jealousy. This means that a person feels jealous of their partner’s past relationships or experiences. As this relates to situations that have already taken place and cannot be changed, it can be particularly challenging. Even when this occurs in the relationship, outside help may be needed to understand the origins of this feeling. Knowing and deeply understanding the origins of the feeling allows it to be managed in a healthier way. Although jealousy may not disappear completely, with the help of a therapist, it is possible to learn how to deal with these feelings in a healthier way. Then relationships will work so much better.

Jealousy in different relationships

This feeling is not limited to romantic relationships. It can also occur in friendships, between siblings, or in work environments.

  • In friendships: can arise when a friend spends more time with another person or achieves something we want for ourselves.
  • Between siblings: competition for parental attention can lead to envy and jealousy among siblings.
  • At work: can arise over the success of colleagues or relationships with superiors.

Techniques for dealing with feelings of jealousy

There are several techniques that can be useful in dealing with feelings of jealousy:

  • Write down your feelings: Writing down what you feel can help you understand and process your feelings.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you stay in the present moment and reduce the focus on negative thoughts.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT can be effective in changing negative thought patterns that contribute to the problem.
  • Couples therapy is good, but it is often recommended that individuals go to individual therapy to work on their fears on their own.

Jealousy and social media

In today’s digital era, social media plays a major role in the creation and development of jealousy. Excessive use of social media and monitoring of partners’ online activities can exacerbate feelings and experiences.

First step towards harmony

Dealing with jealousy is a journey towards self-awareness and emotional maturity. It takes courage to confront and work through these feelings. Remember that professional help can be an important resource on this journey.

We make the hard things easier. If you are struggling with this feeling in any way, do not hesitate to contact us. Our psychologists and therapists have expertise in the field and can offer support and guidance.


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12 common questions and answers about jealousy

What does it mean to be jealous?

Jealousy is an emotion that often occurs when a person experiences the threat of loss or competition for something or someone valuable. It can include fear, worry, and often a sense of insecurity or inadequacy.

Where is the limit for jealousy?

The line is drawn when jealousy starts to negatively affect one’s personal well-being or relationships. It is important to be able to distinguish between the healthy and unhealthy variety.

What is normal jealousy?

Normal jealousy is a natural emotion that occurs sporadically and does not control your actions or relationships. It becomes problematic when it is constant and causes changes in behavior.

How do you know if someone is jealous?

Signs can include frequent questions about your activities, need for control, and negative comments about people you associate with.

How do you manage your own jealousy?

Managing jealousy involves understanding its causes, communicating openly about your feelings, and working on self-confidence and trust.

Can jealousy affect a relationship?

Yes, jealousy can affect relationships, often negatively, by creating suspicion, conflict and lack of trust.

Is jealousy linked to love?

Jealousy can sometimes be mistaken for love, but it is important to distinguish between loving care and controlling behaviors.

Why do some people feel more jealous than others?

It may be due to personal experiences, insecurity, past relationship trauma or low self-esteem. If you have experienced betrayal or sudden endings/breakups, this can leave a negative mark that may contribute to jealousy.

Can therapy help with jealousy?

Therapy can be very effective in dealing with feelings of jealousy, especially in exploring its root causes and developing healthier ways of thinking and behaving.

How does social media affect jealousy?

Social media can amplify feelings of jealousy through constant exposure to the lives and relationships of others, which can create unreasonable comparisons and expectations.

Is jealousy more common in romantic relationships?

Although jealousy is most common in romantic relationships, it can also occur in friendships, family and even work environments.

How can you support a partner who is jealous?

Supporting a jealous partner means being open to communication, showing understanding, and creating an environment of trust and safety together. You can also contact one of Lavendla’s couple therapists or psychologists and get help together.

Steps for coping

Dealing with jealousy can be a challenge, but with the right support and techniques, navigating these feelings can become easier. Here is a step-by-step guide to managing jealousy feelings in consultation with a psychologist or therapist:

Recognizing and accepting emotions:

Before you can work on your jealousy feeling, it is important to acknowledge that you are feeling it. It is a normal human emotion, but it needs to be managed in a healthy way.

Identify the causes:

Together with your therapist, explore the causes. Is the jealous feeling related to a lack of self-esteem, past experiences, or fear of loss?

Communication:

Learn to express your feelings in a constructive way. Communicating with your partner, friend, or the person evoking the feelings can help resolve misunderstandings.

Self-reflection and personal development:

Work with your therapist to improve your self-esteem and confidence. This can include exercises to strengthen your self-image and self-esteem.

Emotional regulation strategies:

Learn techniques to manage strong emotions. This could be breathing techniques, mindfulness or other relaxation methods.

Understand and work with the triggers of jealousy:

Identify specific situations or behaviors that trigger your feelings of jealousy and work on strategies to deal with them.

Building trust:

Focus on building trust in your relationships. This may involve practicing giving and receiving trust.

Create an action plan:

Together with your therapist, create a concrete plan for dealing with jealousy outbursts in the future.

Regular follow-up:

Have regular sessions with your therapist to evaluate your progress and adjust your action plan if necessary.

Support from loved ones:

Engage your friends and family in the process. Their support can be crucial to your success.

Remember, it is important to seek professional help if you feel that feelings of jealousy are affecting your well-being or your relationships. We at Lavendla are here to make the hard part easier when you are ready to talk to a psychologist or therapist.

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Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.