When my then-boyfriend landed an amazing internship abroad, I was happy for him. Until I found out that he was intending to stay with his female friend (who was working in the same city) for the entire summer. I asked if there was a spare room he was sleeping in, he said, no, he would be sharing her bedroom.
“You’re… sharing her bed?” I asked, incredulously. Shrugging, he said yes. There was no other room, nor bed, and he didn’t see a problem. It was a queen-sized bed, he said, and this friend had a boyfriend. He assured me that nothing was going to happen. She lived in a convenient location, and was letting him stay rent-free. It was the best option, he said.
That’s not okay, I said. Can’t you get a sleeping bag, or sleep in the living room, or something?? Why does it have to be her bed? He looked at me calmly.
“Babe. I need rest if I’m going to do well in this internship. Are you asking me to sleep on the floor, or on the couch for months? Be rational about this.”
Cornered, I found myself speechless. He didn’t use the “j” word, but I felt it in his tone. Basically, he thought I was being jealous – and I was.
Jealousy is that green eyed monster that afflicts any couple – I doubt even the happiest of relationships can say that they have never had to battle this emotion. I used to take a more passive approach to jealousy. I tended to suck it up, because in the words of Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, I wanted to be that cool, understanding girlfriend who “never gets angry; cool girls only smile in a chagrined, loving manner, and let their men do whatever they want.”
Well, I’m here to say that when you feel that roar of jealousy in the pit of your stomach, don’t ignore it, because it’s not going to go away. I’ve learnt some things the hard way, and here’s what I’ve figured out.
Stand your ground
Don’t swallow your feelings or take a passive stance if your jealousy is valid. And by that, I mean that you have a case in the proverbial court that what he’s doing is not okay. For example: grabbing dinner with a female colleague post-meeting does not warrant you to throw a fit, but it’s a different story if he met up with an ex-girlfriend behind your back.
Stand your ground if you feel very strongly about a situation, even if he argues that you’re not being rational (newsflash: that is gaslighting). The simple reason is that if you stifle your feelings this one time, trust me, you’ll be in a similar scenario again (and again). Your man will think that because you gave in the last time, it can’t have been that big a deal. But if it is for you, make sure that he knows how much his actions are upsetting you. This isn’t to say that you should forbid him to stop being friends with his female BFF, but he should know that you’re not entirely comfortable with the situation. Don’t pretend you’re cool with it if you’re not.
Ask yourself if you are being reasonable
There’s something about jealousy that causes our mind to flick off the “logic” switch. That’s because jealousy is so closely linked to feelings of insecurity, anxiety and even paranoia – we get jealous because our mind races to think of all the possibilities that might transpire, and usually, none of them are good. But before you fall into an abyss of “what-ifs”, step back and ask yourself if you have made a concerted effort to be understanding.
If it’s his female friend that you’re jealous over, have you tried getting to know her? Ask your boyfriend to set up an introduction, and meet her with an open mind. She’s probably not the femme fatale you’ve imagined her to be. You should also consider how he’s approaching the situation – if he’s already cut down on the number of times he meets her, some appreciation for being understanding is in order. If you want him to see your side of things, avoid acting like a bunny boiler.
Don’t just tell him you’re unhappy – give alternatives
There’s nothing more frustrating when someone tells you she’s upset – but not telling you what to do to help make her feel better. No one knows your boundaries better than yourself, so you should be the one suggesting other alternatives to the problem. Offer more than one, because if he doesn’t like the sound of that, you’ll be back at a stalemate.
Compromise only happens when both of you are reasonably satisfied with a new solution, so you have to be realistic in your suggestions. Asking him never to talk to the pretty girl he sits next to at work isn’t going to fly, and neither is cutting off contact with his childhood friend.
If neither of you are budging, it’s time to call it quits
One woman’s jealousy is another woman’s acceptance. Everyone has different levels of tolerance, and if you and your partner just cannot come to any kind of compromise, to be honest, it might be the beginning of the end. As harsh as it sounds, jealous spates will only keep recurring until a resolution is made. Don’t put your money on him changing – if he’s not willing to see your point of view, it’s unlikely that he’s do a 180. And if you’ve feel like you’ve tried points 1 to 3 as above and are still facing a dead end, you’re better off calling it quits. You deserve someone who can meet your needs.