Jealousy is one of the toughest hurdles you can face in a romantic relationship, especially if the jealousy is strong and persistent. If your man struggles with jealousy and the insecurity that causes it, you may feel that you constantly have to be on the defensive and that common sense will not get through to him. If your man is worth the fight, though, you can battle jealousy by finding the right balance between compassion for your man and an assertive defense of your own boundaries.
His Issues Are His
It's common for jealous partners to disown personal responsibility for their jealousy. He may tell you that he wouldn't be jealous if you would or wouldn't do certain things and that, therefore, his jealousy is your fault. Make no mistake, though; if your partner is persistently jealous in spite of the fact that you are faithful to him, his jealousy issues are his own and not caused by you. Begin your struggle against his jealousy and insecurity by refusing to take the blame for it. Inform your partner that you are willing to do what you can to help him feel secure in the relationship, but you will not accept his assessment that your behavior is the cause of the problem.
Skeletons in the Closet
If your partner has a history of cheating, his jealousy toward you probably stems from his own mindset. If fighting against the urge to cheat is a struggle he faces in every relationship, he likely does not understand a person who doesn't struggle in the same way. If he feels guilty about times when he has cheated or wanted to cheat, he may carry a sense of unworthiness and feel that he deserves to be cheated on. If you know he has a history of cheating, consider discussing his past with him from this angle so that you can teach him that your own mindset is different.
Once you've established firm ground rules and boundaries regarding his responsibility for his jealousy, balance this with compassion for the root causes of his insecurity. Psychologist Steven Stosny notes that complex jealousy comes from a core belief that a person isn't worthy of love or that others won't believe he's worthy of love. Help your man examine his past and life experiences to look for emotional deficits and injuries that may have led him to believe this about himself. Look for ways to address his jealousy by reassuring him about the root causes of his insecurity. Understand that it will take time for him to feel secure.
Jealousy may push him to be obsessive or even paranoid. Behaviors that he once would have said were acceptable may start to anger him if he is fueled by strong feelings of hurt and insecurity. If this happens, firmly point out to him why his worries are illogical and remind him that fear can distort his view of things. Do not let him put you on the defensive with irrational accusations. Close the discussion if need be.
Set Limits and Indulge
Don't allow him to make rules for what you can and can't do, but negotiate limits and rules together. He may try to appeal to universal standards for what is and isn't appropriate behavior for you; remind him that couples come up with their own rules about what constitutes cheating and what constitutes appropriate, faithful behavior. This will put you in a position of creating rules that you are both comfortable with and remind him that fidelity in your relationship is a two-way contract. Tell him that it is a requirement for you that he spell out what he sees as appropriate or not appropriate in clear, well-defined rules. It is not acceptable for him to use his emotions alone as a guide.