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Making Someone Jealous

Jealousy in an intimate relationship is a painful thing to feel.  It arises from a sense of threat and insecurity.  But from the perspective of your partner, jealousy may be interpreted as a sign that you are invested in the relationship, that you care. Because of this your partner may feel a sense of reassurance by seeing you get jealous. They may even attempt to trigger jealousy to meet a need for reassurance.  You might call this a tragic strategy for reassurance because the need for reassurance is met at the cost of your need for security.


The most helpful thing is asking for and offering this reassurance directly. This is hard because it requires vulnerability and you have likely experienced some shame around vulnerability.  Beyond that you have also likely encountered some pressure to be tough, calm, and confident. The difficulty of asking for reassurance becomes compounded when your partner attempts to give you reassurance in a way that doesn't really meet the need. When this happens and you go to ask for reassurance your partner is likely to react with exasperation and impatience thinking they have already offered it and what more could they possibly do.


The reality is that as human beings we are hardwired to create a secure bond with each other and to maintain that bond through verbal and non-verbal forms of reassurance. It's up to you to let your partner know exactly what that looks like for you; how you most easily have a sense of security and bonding. When your partner shares this with you as well, they will no longer need to engage tragic strategies like "making you jealous" in order to have a sense of reassurance.


The important thing is to make space for differences. What offers you the most reassurance may be very different from what offers your partner the most reassurance.  Take a look at this list of common forms of reassurance and notice what resonates the most for you and make a guess at what resonates the most for your partner.

  • Eye contact

  • Smiling

  • Physical affection

  • Verbal expressions of love and appreciation

  • Sharing intimately about your experience

  • Collaboration on a shared project or vision

  • Public signs of partnership

  • Sex

  • Gifts

  • Showing up 4 significant events in each other's lives

  • Expressing delight and celebration about the unique qualities of your partner

  • Anticipating and considering your partner's needs when they are not present to speak for them

  • Offering and receiving empathy


With consistency around reassurance, care, and consideration both of you may feel more secure over time.   As this security grows, behaviors and words that promote a secure bond become more, not less frequent. With a greater sense of security comes a greater ease in giving and receiving love and care.


Practice

Take a moment to reflect on how your partner might most easily receive reassurance and offer that today.

 

Next Gem
When Compassionate Communication ISN’T Compassionate
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Emotional Volatility: Calm Down or Shut Down?


2 Responses

  1. Jun 14, 2016
    Monica

    That's a sweet article. As someone who suffers from jealousy I never saw it as a reassurance issue, but after reading your article I recall many many occasions when I had a jealous outlash and in the end all that I needed to feel better was him denying any attractions to other women and professing his undying love for me (reassurance?). And then everything would be just peachy. It's funny. We have gotten through the worst of the jealousy, (I hope) and have a really comfortable and communicative relationship now, but once in a blue moon I find myself overreacting in a jealous way and inside i AM NOT EVEN JEALOUS, I am just on autopilot, which I guess in a way is me seeking reassurance. Hm. Very, very interesting.

    I'm having fun reading your site! Great advice.

    -Monica

  2. Jun 15, 2016

    Thanks Monica, glad to hear you thinking hear and so happy to know my articles are a support.

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