All emotions are normal. An emotion in and of itself is not irrational. However, what we decide based upon our emotions can be irrational and
lead to destructive behavior. Although certain behaviors related to an emotion can create problems, the emotion itself may have some validity.
The purpose of emotions is to provide us with information. Once we have the information, we may then choose appropriate action. However, as with
any information, emotions may be misunderstood. How we make sense of an emotion may not always lead to the accurate meaning of the emotion.
Therefore, our chosen actions may not resolve the problem the emotion brought to our attention, or make even create additional difficulties.
For example, let's look at the emotion of anger. Let's imagine a situation where a person is excluded from some event such as not being invited
to a wedding. In that situation, it may be normal for the person to be hurt and angry. "How could she not invite me? I've always been there for
her." Thus, the information the anger provides is that the friend feels rejected and left out of an important event. If the person recognizes
this information, he may decide to respond by contacting his friend and communicating how he feels: "I don't understand why I wasn't included."
In which case it is possible he might find out that the slight was unintentional, or there was a reasonable explanation, or maybe his friend has
a problem with him that she hasn't addressed. No matter what the situation, it gives him an opportunity to confront the situation and try to
resolve the problem. However, what if he misinterprets the anger: "She's always leaving me out. She doesn't really care about me" and convinces
himself to reject her in turn. What if he decides to go as far as writing a scathing letter about how ungrateful and inconsiderate she is and
sends it to her right before her wedding?
The first reaction to anger was based on rationally interpreting the anger and responding reasonably. However, the second response was
an irrational interpretation which may lead to damaging the relationship beyond repair. In this article, we will examine the emotion of jealousy
similarly and identify when it is irrational. In addition, we will look at other meanings of the emotion of jealousy and how to determine what
the feeling is indicating. Finally, we will examine the causes of irrational jealousy and focus on methods of learning how to handle jealousy
when it is irrational.
Frequently, I am asked how to handle
irrational jealous feelings. Usually, the individual recognizes that her
feelings are unreasonable with no valid evidence but feels incapable of
controlling the jealousy. In addition, the person usually recognizes the
destructive nature of indulging in the feelings and the resultingbehavior. Such behavior typically involves excessive questioning of her
spouse, suspiciousness, and accusations. Many spouses become extremely
frustrated with this behavior because they have no way of proving their
faithfulness. This leads to an escalating cycle of anger which is used as
further evidence by the jealous spouse that
her suspicions are correct.
jealous spouse often desperately wants to stop the behavior but finds that he
can't control the thoughts which makes him feel miserable. He believes
that if he can just prove his suspicions one way or
another, he will feel
better. The unfortunate fallacy in this thinking, is that trust can never
be proven; it can only be disproved. The definition of trust is the belief
that something is true. Therefore, without evidence to the contrary, if we
want a satisfying relationship, we have to choose
to trust the person we
As a child Cynthia's hyperactive behavior often annoyed others. Her teachers frequently reprimanded her in school. The other students called her "stupid" and refused to let her join them in activities. At home, her father criticized her and beat her with a belt whenever her parents received a negative report from school. Due to depression, her mother tended to ignore Cynthia's needs for emotional support and attention. As a result, she grew up expecting rejection from others. It seemed that no matter how hard she tried, all she experienced was rejection.
As an adult she had numerous unsuccessful relationships. She desperately wanted the acceptance to be found in a relationship; however, she perceived her partner's behavior negatively often thinking about how he wasn't as committed to the relationship and that she was just good enough until someone else came along. These thoughts led to hostility toward him and accusations "You don't care about me!" Due to her focus on her worries about losing him she did not focus on his needs and provide him with emotional support. Her partner tried to reassure her and comfort her at first but the constant negativity and hostility drained his ability to respond to her needs.
is probably the most devastating loss a person can
experience. To be betrayed, the person must first
experience trust in the betrayer. It is fairly
impossible for you to be betrayed if you did not trust
the individual in the first place. Therefore, the
definition of betrayal involves the act of someone
violating your trust in them. The betrayal I am
discussing in this article refers to a variety of forms
of betrayal. For instance, a child is betrayed
when he or she is abused by the parents who are supposed
to love, support, and protect the child. A spouse
is betrayed when their partner has an affair.
Betrayal is when someone you trust lies to you, cheats
on you, abuses you, or hurts you by putting their own
I had some good questions on
my website regarding handling a partner's irrational jealousy. The
reason I wrote the article
What to Do When Your
Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage
for the individual with the
problem jealousy is because until that person decides to make changes nothing
can be done to eliminate their jealousy. That article has been very popular and
many people have indicated to me that they are trying to change their behavior
after reading it. However, there are many other people who are not recognizing
their jealous behavior and so their partners are writing to me asking what to
Just because the person
with the jealousy problem is the only one who can change it doesn't mean that
there is nothing that you, as the partner, can do about your partner's
jealousy. However, the steps you can take may be very challenging and don't
come without risk. If you truly want a chance for your partner to change, the
best place to start is with yourself. By changing how you respond to your
partner's jealousy you will develop a greater understanding of how difficult it
is to make changes. This increases your empathy for your partner especially if
he/she is trying to make changes. However, it may also make you less tolerant
of someone refusing to recognize their problem or do anything about it. This
could be a healthy thing for you because you are less likely to remain in a
destructive relationship. READ MORE...
An internet reader, "Mike," wrote about a jealousy situation that he has begun to recognize but that has already caused extensive
damage to his relationship: "Now, my spouse is hiding everything and refuses to discuss the topic. My gut feeling is that my spouse
is out to get revenge, lying and is maybe now really cheating." He indicates that his wife has informed him she has the right to
hide the cell phone bills, change e-mail passwords, and erase internet history because of his past behavior. He states,"I tried to
explain what is causing my jealousy, yet I feel I'm not being heard or understood. Now, I feel like the one being "abused" because
my spouse acts hostile to me and defensive whenever this subject...is brought up."
I'm sure you've dealt with individuals who have caused
you to be so frustrated that afterwards you scratch your
head asking "Am I crazy?" Most likely you just had an
encounter with a passive-aggressive person. Such
encounters may include sarcasm, shifting blame, saying
one thing while meaning another to name a few. For
instance, I used to know a co-worker who was very
skilled at giving back-handed compliments such as "You
look great! You must be doing something different" as
well as sarcasm disguised as a compliment "Oh, I hear
you've managed to pull off another miracle." The problem
with these kinds of comments is that if you try to
confront them about the insult, you will be accused of
not understanding, "I didn't mean it that way" or of
misinterpreting, "You must have a problem to think that.
I was just trying to compliment you. Sorry I didn't word
it right to suit you." As a result, you end up looking
like the bad guy, feeling frustrated, and asking
yourself, "Am I crazy?" And the other person walks away