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Two Kinds of Jealousy

Two Kinds of Jealousy

Two Different Kinds of Jealousy


The most common question I get (as a therapist who works with open relationships and non-monogamous marriages) is how I help people work through jealousy.  And while jealousy takes many forms in these diverse relationships, there are two sources driving most of our conversations on the topic.

Most of the time, jealousy is based in fear.  It is an incredibly common emotion, and is important to acknowledge as a natural and healthy occurrence- when handled with integrity. However, when jealousy gets out of hand, it can be incredibly destructive to the foundation of any marriage or partnership.

All too often jealousy results in worried and mistrustful — even neurotic — behaviors (like snooping, spying, and interrogating).  It seems to impact relationships regardless of demographic- everyone experiences some bitter envy from time to time.

The first kind of jealousy worth noting is reactive.  Reactive jealousy happens when you are experiencing an actual threat to your relationship.   Reactive jealousy is painful, but due to it's specific focus, it can appear easier to problem solve (by addressing the threat openly, and lovingly).

On the other hand, suspicious jealousy can be very difficult to resolve.  Suspicious jealousy is not based in fact or evidence, no commitments have been broken and the relationship isn't at risk.  Instead of being driven by a real threat, suspicious jealousy originates in one partner's insecurities.

Insecurity can come from any number of life experiences or current situations in a partner's life and in the course of a relationship it is only natural either partner will feel some insecurity rise from time to time.  Regardless of it's cause, insecurity, it is important the couple work together to prevent damage that can be caused by this kind of jealousy.

Here are a couple simple but effective strategies you can work on when the green-eyed monster attacks your relationship.  

How to Work on Jealousy

Authentic Relationships and Disagreement

authentic relationships

Giving and receiving feedback is shaky ground for a lot of us: moments when our work, our ideas, and our actions are open are places of immense vulnerability. But they are also the places we are the most open and receptive. If nurtured, this is where ideas evolve and innovation emerges.

Disagreement — saying this could be different and how — is an essential part of the learning process. We evolve through disagreement. Ideas are enriched through challenge.  Connections are deepened through authentic communication.

Yet giving and receiving feedback or differentiated viewpoints is one of the greatest sources of fear in our culture.  Our capacity to courageously hear and speak honestly with one another is the key to wholehearted living.

Graceful disagreement creates incredible opportunity in relationships.  Brené Brown articulates the following guidelines for engaged feedback as a way to set the stage for graceful disagreement:

I know I am ready to give feedback when:

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