How to Overcome Possessiveness and Jealousy when Dating

In her article for Psychology Today, clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone aptly defines jealousy as an "overwhelming, possessed state of suspicion." This state of mind can add a great deal of unnecessary stress and tension to your relationship. If you constantly get a knot in your stomach when your significant other spends time with others and fearful and worrisome thoughts of betrayal tend to flood your mind, it will serve you to overcome your jealous emotions. Jealousy and possessiveness can undermine your capacity for true intimacy because you end up focusing more on keeping your partner for yourself than on creating a healthy relationship.

A reflective young man writing in a journal on his bed. (Image: Tay Jnr/DigitalVision/Getty Images)

Notice the Triggers

Noticing what triggers your jealousy is the first step to overcoming a pattern of possessiveness in your dating relationship. A written record in the form of daily journaling can be helpful. As you write, you can begin to identify what situations, words or behaviors spark the emotion of jealousy for you. In her article, "The Health Benefits of Journaling," Maud Purcell, a licensed clinical social worker, states that journaling can help you "clarify thoughts and feelings" as well as reduce the intensity of negative emotions. Understanding your triggers helps you recognize them as they come up, so that you are more self aware and able to combat and reduce the intensity of your negative feelings.

Examine Your Past

After you ascertain what triggers your feelings of jealousy, you must examine your past. It is important to understand why certain actions or words touch tender places of vulnerability in your heart. For example, if a past girlfriend cheated on you through online dating forums, your jealousy may be triggered whenever you notice your current girlfriend staying up late to work on the computer. Be willing to communicate with your partner as you work through the pain of your past so that you are no longer emotionally triggered in your present.

Pause Before Acting

Possessive behavior is not healthy for any relationship. To accuse your dating partner of cheating, or to manipulate the way your dating partner spends her or his time, damages the potential for true intimacy. Develop the self control to pause before acting in possessive ways. This will free you from habitually acting from an irrational and jealous state of mind. "When in doubt, do nothing until you are clear... you must give yourself permission to wait," states internationally best-selling author and coach Lee Milteer in her article "Pause Before You Act." Use this waiting time to unravel the knots of jealousy within your own psyche before accusing your loved one of hurtful behavior.

Seek out Support

If worrisome and suspicious thoughts continue to overwhelm your mind, it is important to seek out support. According to Missouri-based BJC Behavioral Health services, it is particularly important to seek the help of a trained therapist if you "cannot curb your jealous responses on your own." Jealous emotions erode clear thinking and confidence. Jealousy easily provokes people to act in possessive and confused ways. With the support of a trained counselor of psychologist, you can begin the process of healing the wounds within you that make you susceptible to jealous emotions. This healing will make your dating life far more enjoyable and healthy.

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