Most people experience a little jealousy now and then, whether from competition with a sibling or coworker or responding to a perceived threat to a romantic relationship. A jealous twinge now and again is a normal part of life, notes clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, coauthor of "Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice." No matter the source of the jealous feelings, you experience many of the same symptoms.
Distrust and Fear
Jealousy occurs because of distrust and fear in a relationship, according to psychologist Susan Heitler, author of "From Conflict to Resolution." With children, a child might fear that a parent loves a sibling more and therefore loves the jealous child less. In a romantic relationship, you may fear that a rival will steal your partner or that the partner is attracted to another and might abandon you. Jealousy demonstrates concern about the relationship outcome. Fear and distrust could manifest because of a real threat, an imagined one or a projection of your own feelings for someone that tempts you to be unfaithful.
Jealousy often manifests as poor self-image, anger toward whomever threatens your relationship, sadness, insecurity in the relationship, shame and self-critical thoughts, says therapist and licensed counselor Kim Olver. Your negative response may even spiral into depression, suggest authors Michael Kingham and Harvey Gordon in a 2004 article in “Advances in Psychiatric Treatment.”
Actions Precipitated by Jealousy
In a romantic relationship, you might be hyper-vigilant in response to jealousy. You might exhibit this by monitoring your partner’s movements, communication and Internet history, spying on your partner or invading your partner’s privacy to determine who your rival is or if your partner is unfaithful. You could sabotage the efforts of a rival in a work relationship. These actions are negative and not likely to make the situation better. Improve your self-image through positive self-talk and by making better choices that benefit your partner or coworkers. Talk with your partner about the reasons why you feel the relationship is threatened. Talk to a therapist if you cannot end the jealous actions when there is no real threat or your actions are out of proportion to the threat.
The symptoms and resulting actions of morbid jealousy go beyond normal limits. You might experience intrusive and excessive thoughts, become preoccupied by your partner’s sexual fidelity, claim exclusive ownership of your partner’s romantic feelings and behave irrationally by accusing your partner of infidelity when no proof exists, according to Kingham and Gordon. You could project unfaithful behavior on your partner due to unfaithful behaviors from a previous partner or a parent. In some cases, morbid jealousy results in dangerous behaviors that endanger you and your partner. If you experience these symptoms, seek professional help to overcome your need to control your partner and handle your rage.