Relationship Advice

Do Unto Others

jealous woman looking at clock

Please could you advise me how to deal with my own jealousy?  I have been in one of the most nightmarish abuse relationships, and now have problems controlling jealousy as I have huge trust issues.  I read your reply to another stating the man must be harsh with regards to jealousy, even though his girlfriend had been hurt.

What about turning it around and giving some advice for the other side in how to control these emotions.  Some of us know we are doing it, but don’t like the behavior.

Sue


Sue, people who have been abused have three paths open to them.  They can become a perpetrator, or a victim, or they can heal.  Two of the paths lead to bad ends.  We don’t want you to be a victim or a victimizer.  We want you to heal.

Our stance on jealousy is that it must be stopped.  As Shakespeare wrote, "Trifles light as air are to the jealous confirmations." Other people cannot be punished for nothing.  When jealousy rears its head, the person on the receiving end must put their foot down.  If they don’t, the jealous one will feel justified because the victim acceded to their wishes.

Going along with jealousy doesn’t halt jealousy, it moves it forward.  The proper stance of the victim of jealousy needs to be, "I’m not going to wear this ankle bracelet.  I haven’t committed a crime.  I am not allowing you to call me every 15 minutes because you think you are going to catch me doing something."

We understand your previous relationship was nightmarish, but there is nothing in your letter showing that your new person is doing anything to justify your jealousy.  Someone was a monster to you, and now you are going to unleash a monster on someone else—the green-eyed monster jealousy.

Take a lesson from the United States during the Cold War.  The US needed to quickly determine if a blob on radar was a flock of geese or a Soviet missile.  Call missiles geese, and the country would be defenseless.  Call geese missiles, and the country would start World War III.

The US developed techniques to distinguish real threats from imaginary ones.  That’s what you need to do.  When irrational fear arises, stop, question what’s going on, label it correctly, then act.  Relaxation techniques and a good cognitive-behavioral therapist can show you how this is done.

Wayne & Tamara

Solutions

I love your column! I've never heard anybody give such straight, to the point, right-on advice. While others try to help people manage their situation, you point people toward seeing what is really going on, so they can manage themselves.

Paula


Paula, thank you for your note.

The most important thing we can do is live in reality.  If you have a broken arm, you don’t need to learn how to live with a broken arm.  You need someone who sets broken arms.  When your bone is repositioned, it will hurt, but in a little while you will be past the hurt.

We don’t believe people need anyone who says to them, "Let’s talk about your broken arm.  How do you feel about your broken arm?  Can you take your part in this?"  People need to act based on the reality of their situation rather than trying to "manage" chronically bad situations.

Every day adults are trained to be dishonest.  Every day kids are trained not to say what they think.  Every day employees are forced to say what they don’t feel or mean.  Every day good people are told to stay in a situation because it is the "moral" thing to do, when it is not the right thing to do.  We don’t need to be trained to make excuses for bad people.

There are basic behavioral laws, and when those laws aren’t followed, our lives are chaos.  Our real needs will keep reasserting themselves until they are met.

Wayne & Tamara