The Causes of Jealousy in Relationships

It’s a horrible sensation, the squeezing gut punch that is jealousy. The resulting pain and uncertainty can feel all-consuming, making it really difficult to see things clearly.

Maybe it feels as though jealousy is the result of external forces—My partner is paying more attention to my metamour and it’s making me feel awful—when in fact jealousy mostly comes from within, driven by the influences of a poor self-image. As a poly lover, this is an important idea to embrace.

No matter how emotionally evolved you might think you are, there will be times when jealousy strikes, and when it does, it’s way less overwhelming if you can claim some stake in your own misery. When you can see how your beliefs about yourself influence your emotions, you can take control and start to feel better.

So what are some of the psychological underpinnings of jealousy?

The Causes of Jealousy in Relationships


When you feel insecure it can be especially difficult to believe that you’re loved. You might feel deep down that your partner(s) are staying with you out of a sense of loyalty or pity, not because they really want to be with you. Your concerns will make you hyper vigilant and tuned into any sign that you might be abandoned, which quite often leads to feelings of jealousy.

Jealousy drives you to hold on tighter to your partner(s), something that you feel will lead to security. The trouble is that no one likes to be the focus of a lover’s jealous attention and you’ll probably drive people away. It’s better to confront your issues head on, either with the help of friends or a therapist.

Low Self-Esteem

It’s easy to feel jealous of the people you consider to be vying for your partner’s affections if you think that you could never win out over them. Low self-esteem has a horrible way of making you feel inferior to every other person out there, creating deep-rooted resentments and a compulsive need to compete.

If you can start to see yourself as equal to everybody else, it will help you feel less anxious about your relationships and you’ll become less sensitive to the jealousy-fueling belief that you’re missing out.

Lack of Confidence

If you feel confident about your ability to maintain a healthy relationship, you’re less likely to feel concerned and jealous when your partner focuses on people and things that don’t involve you. Even outside of the relationship, if you’re feeling good about your abilities and are confident that you have what it takes to create the life you want, you’ll probably put less pressure on your partner(s) to make you happy and as a result, you’ll be less controlling.

Something to keep in mind is that even if you’re a happy, secure, confident person, jealousy is bound to sneak up on you every once in a while. It’s just part of the human experience. Rather than get really anxious about it, try to figure out how you can learn from it.

Feelings of jealousy may telling you something about the way you see yourself in relationships, or maybe you’re just feeling burnt out and sensitive. Either way, try to treat yourself with kindness, and allow the feelings to pass because they usually do.

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