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Managing Jealousy

Photo by Dainis Graveris

What is Jealousy?

Jealousy can show up as a range of emotions and can be complex and often challenging to deal with. It can stem from a variety of sources, including romantic relationships, friendships, and even professional rivalries.

It is often an emotional response to a perceived threat or loss of something that we value, such as a romantic partner, a friendship, or a career opportunity. To some extent, jealousy is natural. Studies have shown that all primates experience forms of jealousy. To some extent we also feel jealous as a result of the social and relational expectations we were taught by our culture.

Case study: The Mosuo People

Mosuo Zhuanshan Festival at Lugu Lake

The Mosuo people, in China, live a lifestyle where they practice 'walking marriages' instead of monogamy. People may have many sexual or romantic partners at a time, but everyone lives with their own blood relatives, parents, brothers and sisters. As a result the Mosuo people have no word for jealousy in their language, as their culture has been built around concepts of open love and sexuality. In our culture, some people might get jealous when they see their lover taking a sip of someone else's drink on a night out. But others in the ENM community might have no problem with their lover going away with another lover for a week long vacation. Socially constructed jealousy is often on a sliding scale and is different for everyone.

Six Ways to Better Cope with Jealousy

When jealousy is left unchecked, it can become a powerful and destructive force in our lives. It can lead to feelings of anger, resentment, and insecurity, and can cause us to act in ways that are harmful to ourselves and others.

  1. Notice, Name and Accept Your Emotions The first step in coping with jealousy is to acknowledge and accept your emotions. Name the jealousy. It doesn’t mean you are emotionally immature or ‘not right for ENM’. You can say out loud to yourself or a partner “A part of me is feeling jealous”. It is normal to feel jealous from time to time, and it is important to recognise that these feelings are a natural response to certain situations. Rather than suppressing your emotions or pretending they don't exist, try to acknowledge and accept them as a part of your experience.

  2. Identify the Source of Your Jealousy Once you have acknowledged your emotions, it is important to identify the source of your jealousy. What is it that you feel threatened by or have lost? Is it a romantic partner, a friend, or a career opportunity? By identifying the source of your jealousy, you can begin to address the underlying issues that are fuelling your emotions. NOTE: When we do this, we must try not to blame our partner for 'making' us feel this way. We can simply talk about what has been brought up emotionally within us.

  3. Communicate Your Feelings Communicating your feelings is an important step in coping with jealousy. If you are feeling jealous in a romantic relationship, for example, it is important to talk to your partner about your feelings in a calm and respectful way. By expressing your emotions, you can work together to address any underlying issues and build a stronger, more secure relationship.

  4. Practice Gratitude One way to cope with jealousy is to practice gratitude. Take some time each day to reflect on the things in your life that you are grateful for, such as your health, your family, or your career. By focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you can help to shift your perspective and reduce feelings of jealousy and insecurity.

  5. Practice Mindfulness Finally, practising mindfulness can be an effective way to cope with jealousy. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment and non-judgmentally observing your thoughts and emotions. Using this skill in everyday life can help to pull you out of negative thought spirals that can affect your ability to function day to day. By practising mindfulness, you can better understand your emotions and develop greater awareness and control over your reactions.

  6. Seek Professional Help If your feelings of jealousy are particularly intense or are interfering with your daily life, it may be helpful to seek professional help. At ENM Australia we can help you to better understand your emotions, identify coping strategies, and work through any underlying issues that may be fuelling your jealousy. We offer this support for anyone experiencing jealousy, whether they are in an ENM relationship or not.


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