How I Deal with Jealousy
I’m going to focus today on romantic jealousy, specifically jealousy related to a current romantic partner. I’m going to tell you how I tame jealous reactions in myself, when I have a thought about my partner potentially leaving me for someone else. Although my approach will probably not work for everyone, my hope is that this will help you to also tame jealousy and to suffer less as a result.
Lets say that I know that my partner is attracted to another man. There’s something about him that she likes. This normally wouldn’t bother me, but let’s say that she says something, or does something, or he says or does something that makes me think a thought like, “She’s going to leave me for him.”
Instead of pushing the thought away, I embrace the thought. What would that be like? If she left me for him, then presumably she would be more fulfilled with him. So now I’m behind the thought: perhaps it would be better for her to be with him.
Now let’s say that I can’t get behind that idea. Let’s say that I’m resistant. I want my woman to stay with me, even if there is someone out there with whom she would be more fulfilled. I have got to be honest with myself in this case: it’s telling me that I don’t really care about her. I would rather keep her trapped with me, not fulfilling her potential, than let her go.
But so far we have looked at only one side of the situation: making sure that the other person is happy. What about me? If I assume, or even discover, that my partner wants to be with someone else, then why would I want to be with this person who does not want to be with me. Perhaps there is someone out there who does want what I have to offer. If not, at least I can appreciate myself on my own.
Am I such a wonderful, universally perfect person that anyone else should appreciate what I have to offer and want to be with me? Probably not. Am I at least good enough that my partner would want to be with me? I don’t know; I’ll find out. I can only be who and what I am. I can gradually improve myself in various ways, but the easiest thing for me to be is what I am right now.
The conclusion is that jealousy is a reaction that tries to cling to suffering, the suffering of me and the suffering of my partner. “No, keep her with me, even though she would be happier elsewhere! No, keep her with me, even though she cannot see or appreciate what I have to offer or wants something that I cannot or will not give her!” Thank you jealousy for every time you have suggested that there might be a better way.