Whether your partner’s daily Arthur Russell banter with their barista with the eyebrow ring makes you feel some feelings, or you don’t really love when your boo retweets their ex, it’s common to wonder: Does getting jealous mean you don’t trust your partner? At any stage of dating, it’s not uncommon to get hit with envy about things your boo is doing or people they may be talking to. Even if you give a big eye-roll when your boo gushes about their amazing co-worker (who moonlights as a SoulCycle instructor), experts say that feeling jealous doesn’t mean you don’t trust your boo. It just means you’re a human with feelings.
"First off, jealousy is a regular human emotion," Sarah Mirk, author of Sex From Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules, tells Elite Daily. "We demonize jealousy because it feels so bad, but that’s just like dismissing any other emotion. Instead of ignoring jealousy and denying it’s existence, I think it’s healthier to listen to my jealousy and try to learn from it."
Whether you totally score your dream pair of shoes on sale, rock that presentation at school or work, or snag a free coffee because the register went down — when people feel happy emotions, they generally don’t feel reluctant to express them. If you’re still thinking about that sparkly pink bike Elizabeth from your pee-wee cheer squad got for her seventh birthday, or you can’t seem to look at Instagram without picturing yourself traveling throughout Europe (and seemingly never working?) like the girl from your Anthro 101 class is — know that jealousy is a normal human emotion, just like joy, fear, anger, or the rest of the Inside Out characters.
Building trust in a relationship can be a dynamic process that takes time to establish. If you or your boo have dealt with infidelity, lying, or any other breaches of trust in the past — sometimes, building trust can take some serious work. "Having a strong foundation of communication, respect, and mutual understanding is very important for building healthy and trusting relationships." Violence Prevention Specialist, Leah Dirkse, tells Elite Daily. "Establishing this open line of communication can help to determine relationship agreements and boundaries and address concerns when they arise." Still, if you and your boo are on the same page trust-wise, getting jealous can feel a little disorienting. According to Dirkse, getting jealous doesn’t mean you don’t trust your partner, it just means, well, that you’re feeling jealous. "Experiencing jealousy and having a trusting relationship do not have to be mutually exclusive experiences," Dirkse says. "Feeling jealous is very normal, and interrogating where that jealousy is coming from can be helpful to determine how to navigate it."
Rather than seeing the existence of jealousy as a lack of trust, Mirk says that we can use jealousy as a check-in with ourselves. "I think jealousy usually points inside myself to something I feel insecure about — when I get jealous of my partners, I try to consider what’s actually causing me to feel that way," Mirk says. "Am I worried I’m not pretty enough? Am I worried my partner doesn’t actually respect me? Am I worried they’re not attracted to me? Am I upset because my partner’s not making time for the things I want to do?" Although it can be painful to trace your jealousy to other feelings, doing so can make for open dialogue with your boo.
If you’re starting to notice that you’re getting jealous, understanding why you’re feeling this way can be the key to address it with your partner, without putting anyone on the spot. "For me, a healthy way to address jealousy is to think through what it triggers within me, then talk to my partner about that dynamic," Mirk says. "I can say something like, ‘When you were texting during dinner, that made me jealous because I felt like you wanted to talk to someone else more than me.’ If I’m jealous of an ex-girlfriend because she got to know my partner’s family really well and I don’t know them at all, that’s a helpful sign that I want to be more a part of my partner’s family. That’s something we can actually work toward."
Dirkse too shares the importance of understanding the root of your jealousy as something that you can learn from. "Being in touch with your jealous feelings can be a useful tool in assessing the level of trust and commitment in the relationship," Dirkse says. "Understanding the root of those jealous feelings, then assessing a partner’s behaviors is a good strategy for examining the relationship’s level of trust. If they are consistently demonstrating commitment and honesty in their words and actions, their respect for boundaries and relationship agreements should be apparent." Looking at your feelings in the context of your partner’s actions can help in navigating jealously, without assuming a lack of trust.
Still, when it comes to getting jelly in a relationship, sometimes it can feel right just to be in your feelings, without trying to solve or reason with them. "Think through when to listen to jealousy and when to just recognize its existence," Mirk says. "For example, maybe I’m jealous of an ex-girlfriend because she makes more money than me and seems to be always taking fabulous vacations. That’s not really a helpful jealousy — there’s nothing to learn there except that maybe I should try to save more money rather than spending it all on burritos. I try to let that kind of jealousy go and not let it seep into my feelings toward this person." If you feel yourself getting jealous, it may be helpful to untangle your own feelings before discussing them with your partner. It’s OK to get jealous, just like it’s OK to get happy, sad, or angry. You are allowed to feel your feelings, take up space, and express yourself — no matter who you’re dating or what they’re doing.
Getting jealous doesn’t mean a lack of trust with your partner, but it can be a way to look at other things that you are feeling. If you’re feeling jealous, try to understand the root of the problem. Do you need some more verbal affirmations from your partner? Phone-less dinners? Do you want to take steps to get closer with their family? When it comes to trust in relationships, being open and honest with a partner, above all else, means being open and honest with yourself .
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