What Causes Insecurity and Jealousy in a Relationship?
There can be many causes of insecurity and jealousy in relationships, but they are all rooted in one basic problem – not feeling good about yourself.
Sure, there are the exceptions where you might have great self-esteem and you just happened to pick a loser who cheats on you. Well, it could happen. But typically, people with a high sense of self-worth don’t choose romantic partners who will treat them badly.
One of the leading causes of low self-esteem (and the resulting insecurity and jealousy) is having a problematic or traumatic childhood.
When a baby is born, its brain is like a blank computer. Nothing has been programmed into it yet. However, as the years go by, everything that is said – and done – to the person gets ingrained into their psyche and creates who they are.
I always say that a parent’s “voice” becomes their child’s “voice” later in life. In other words, if your parents told you that you are a loser, lazy, and no-good, then you will end up believing that too. But if they told you how much they love you, are proud of you, and that you can do anything in life, then you’ll believe that.
As you can see, if you grow up in a household with parents who weren’t loving and didn’t give you positive messages about yourself, well, then you will subconsciously choose romantic partners to match that self-fulfilling image of yourself.
How to Deal with Insecurity and Jealousy in Relationships
Just because you have a track record of being jealous in relationships doesn’t mean that you are doomed to feel that way your entire life.
There are things you can do to try to overcome these insecure feelings so you can have a healthy relationship. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Observe Your Jealous Thoughts and Behaviors
First of all, you can’t change what you don’t recognize. You might think that being jealous and insecure are obvious feelings. While they typically are, just knowing you have them won’t automatically change them.
What you need to do is try to look at your thoughts as objectively as you can. And from there, temporarily accept them.
Pretend like you are a friend of yours giving you advice. It’s much easier to give other people advice than it is to ourselves, right? If you can re-frame your thoughts from a logical point of view, that is the first step to changing them.
2. Examine Your Past and Try to Figure out Where These Insecurities Come From
These feelings come from somewhere. They don’t just magically appear in your mind for no reason.
For example, they could be rooted in your childhood. Perhaps your dad had a string of affairs on your mom, and so that’s what you saw growing up. If this is the case, then it’s natural that you would think that “all men cheat.”
Or maybe the insecure feelings come from your own experiences. You might have been burned by your first love, and because of that, you find it difficult to trust people.
It doesn’t matter where these thoughts come from, but it will help you if you can pinpoint the underlying cause.
3. Just Because You Have These Thoughts Doesn’t Make Them True
One main problem people have in life is believing every thought that goes through their mind.
Just because you think something, that doesn’t make it true! For example, you might believe that the government is spying on you, but that doesn’t mean it really is. (Perhaps, but maybe not.)
So, you need to acknowledge that these thoughts of insecurity and jealousy might, in fact, be false.
Try to examine them and see if you can eliminate any of them based on that theory
4. Don’t Act on Your Feelings All the Time
Many people don’t have a “filter.” In other words, if they have a thought, it immediately comes out of their mouth. Or if they have a negative emotion, they will act upon it without giving it any rational thought.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term, “think before you speak.” Well, that’s brilliant advice!
Think before you speak – and act. Try to have enough self-control to not say or do anything you will regret because you might make the situation worse if you do.
5. Remember That Uncertainty in Relationships Is Normal
Hey, we are all human. We all have insecurities, and because of that, they will inevitably creep their way into our relationships from time to time. That’s normal.
Uncertainty is just a way of life because we can’t control everything. The only thing we can control is ourselves.
However, there is a continuum of uncertainty. Some is normal and healthy, but other kinds can be toxic to a relationship.
So, make sure that your level of uncertainty is at a lower level if at all possible.
6. Examine Your Assumptions About the Relationship and About Human Nature in General
If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, you might have learned some very negative patterns for being in relationships. For better or for worse, we learn how to behave in relationships from observing how our parents did it. They are our role models.
Therefore, if you had parents who did not have a happy marriage and they were constantly suspicious and jealous of the other person, then you will probably grow up with the assumption that most people are untrustworthy. Of course, this is far from the truth. However, it may have accidentally become your truth.
7. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
There is no shame in admitting that you are feeling insecure or jealous to your partner. As I said before, we’re all human and will feel this way from time to time.
But maybe your partner doesn’t know you’re feeling that way… they are not mind readers! So, it’s important to share your feelings.
You need to do it in a calm, rational, and peaceful way. You can’t yell, scream, and name-call because it will have the opposite effect.
When you talk about things in a positive manner, you both can take steps in the relationship to try to alleviate your insecurities.
8. Watch His/Her Behaviors and Body Language
Sometimes all of our insecurities and jealous feelings are in our heads. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you really do have a valid reason for feeling the way you do.
It’s important to keep your eye out for any suspicious behaviors your partner might have. For example, do they keep their phone away from you and or hide it when you walk in the room? Are they acting weird?
If so, then you might have a rational reason to feel insecure. But if not, maybe you’re just making it all up in your head.
9. Don’t Keep a Tight Rope on Him/Her
It’s almost instinctual to try to limit your partner’s actions when you feel jealous or insecure. You want to know where they are, when they are coming home, and who they are talking to.
But this will only drive them away from you. No one wants to feel like they are controlled and not trusted.
Even though you are jealous, let them live their life freely. Don’t be a micromanager of their life.
10. Take Action If Something Is Really Fishy
Even though you shouldn’t treat your partner like a caged animal and should give them their freedom, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior. You can be observant without being obvious.
If you see strange behaviors, or experience anything that makes you uncomfortable, bring it up for conversation. People who have nothing to hide…hide nothing.
If you talk to your partner about their “suspicious” behavior, they should be able to come clean very easily if they’re not doing anything wrong. And if they don’t, then you probably have your answer.
11. Talk to a Therapist
Many people think that going to a therapist makes them weak. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Acknowledging that you need to work on yourself, your self-esteem, and insecurities is a brave and noble thing to do.
If you can afford it, seek help. A good therapist can help you identify the reasons you are jealous, how to overcome them, and can put you on the path to healing – and a healthy relationship.
12. Write down Your Positive and Negative Qualities (And His/Hers)
Our insecurities come from thinking we are not “good enough” for the other person. But everyone has good qualities, you just need to take the time to recognize them.
Write down everything about yourself that you consider to be good. That will help you realize all the reasons that you don’t have to be insecure or jealous.
Do the same with your partner. When we are jealous, we tend to focus on negative thoughts – not only about ourselves, but about them too. So, write down all the good qualities they possess. That way, your mind won’t wander into unwanted territory.
13. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Another huge way that we arrive at our insecurities is comparing ourselves to other people. We look at other people and think how much more attractive they are, or that their personality is better, or they make more money than us.
You have to stop comparing yourself to others because you are uniquely YOU. Embrace yourself!
If you absolutely have to compare yourself to others, then compare yourself to people who you perceive to be worse off than you. Not to judge them, but to put your thoughts into perspective. If you do this, you will be able to appreciate yourself and your life a lot more.
14. Love Yourself Enough to Be Brave Enough to Lose Them
One last thing at the core of our jealousy and insecurities is not loving ourselves, and that leads to the fear of being alone.
In fact, many people would rather stay in toxic relationships than be alone. Why? Why would you want to be treated like crap from someone else just so you can be in a relationship?
You shouldn’t do that.
Love yourself enough to have higher standards. Once you are comfortable in your own skin and won’t settle for anything less than you deserve, that’s when you will become more confident. And then your fears and insecurities will slowly disappear altogether.
As you might suspect by now, getting rid of insecurities and jealousy in a relationship has very little to do with the other person, and everything to do with you.
You need to love and value yourself. If you do, then you will most likely attract higher quality people who are naturally trustworthy.
And even if you don’t, you won’t hesitate to walk away from anyone who isn’t treating you with the respect you deserve.