How jealousy can negatively affect a relationship

Understanding what is causing the emotion will help you deal with jealous behavior.

No one wants to admit that they are jealous, but we’ve all felt it at one time or another. We all know that miserly realization that something or someone we love is in danger of being lost or taken from us.

Jealousy can be a reflection of our innermost thoughts. Then we project the emotion onto our reality and relationships.

Jealousy can create useless patterns of behavior and intrusive thoughts that can make relationships falter.

While jealousy can be problematic in relationships, the emotion can be diverted and transformed into productive, meaningful avenues for growth and acceptance.

Has your partner become more controlling by questioning your behavior and motives? Do you feel insecure and create scenarios in your head and project them destructively onto your relationship? If so, jealousy could be the culprit.

Jealousy is the emotion we can experience when something of value — such as our romantic relationships or positions at work — is threatened and potentially taken from us.

Also, jealousy can arise spontaneously and potentially sabotage our otherwise healthy and harmonious relationships.

Yet the emotion occurs naturally in humans and can invite us to focus our attention on the core of the feelings we experience.

Some might argue that jealousy in relationships is not “bad” and can be quite constructive. But there’s a fine line between jealousy as a healthy motivator and jealousy as the destructive antagonist.

Jealousy is based on assumptions and can make you imagine circumstances that are not there. It can be helpful to understand how signs of jealousy can show up within a relationship.

Because every relationship is unique, jealousy can appear in different ways and look different for everyone. The following are common symptoms that indicate that your partner may be jealous:

  • possessive or controlling behavior
  • insulation
  • constant reassurance
  • monitoring your whereabouts and communication
  • distrust or suspicion
  • lack of boundaries
  • increased volatility

Becoming aware of toxic behaviors in your relationship can help you explore how your actions may affect your partner.

Behavior you may notice may include, but is not limited to:

  • limiting your ability to communicate with others
  • browse your phone when you’re not there
  • checking your text messages and emails without permission
  • threats or acts of physical violence

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can:

Fear and its trademark “what if” can create something out of thin air and leave the door open for jealousy to take root in your relationship.

According to a small study from 2021, people who follow their partners on social media or distrust online communication experience higher levels of jealousy and attachment anxiety.

The same study also reported that jealousy responses in relationships tend to increase if a person lives with attachment anxiety.

Behavioral patterns in previous relationships can also make you more likely to become jealous or experience jealousy in your relationship.

Jealousy is often a cover for underlying problems, such as:

These issues can fuel jealousy and manipulate one’s behavior. They can also cause damage that is difficult to repair.

If jealous behavior and feelings are affecting your relationship, implementing strategies and techniques can help you return to a more peaceful place. The following are some to consider.

Discover the root of jealousy

Try to determine why jealousy has become a problem and communicate openly with your partner about their point of view.

You might also consider asking a trusted friend for their opinion. You may be surprised how a different perspective can help you see more clearly.

Focus on the present moment

The presence of jealousy can be an opportunity to discuss the reality of your relationship versus the perception of what it should be.

Mindfulness and gratitude exercises can also be helpful in overcoming jealousy. Being grateful for the relationship you have, perfect or not, can help you identify all the things that work.


Couples therapy can also be helpful.

It can be hard to find a space where we feel comfortable expressing our true feelings, especially on a sensitive topic like jealousy.

A therapist can help you in your discussions so that you and your partner can identify the root causes of jealousy. They can also help you reframe useless behavior or intrusive thoughts.

Jealousy is a natural emotion, but it can be quite challenging for even the strongest of relationships.

Whether you notice jealousy in your partner or in yourself, understanding why jealousy is present is crucial to the survival of the relationship.

Try to observe how jealousy affects your relationship and investigate the cause without judgment.

It may take time, but you can overcome jealousy with an openness to communicate and the ability to express gratitude for your partner and relationship.