Jealousy isn’t necessarily an unhealthy emotion, but there are ways to handle your jealousy more constructively.
If you tend to get jealous in romantic relationships, you’re not alone. Jealousy is a very natural emotion that many people experience at some point. Jealous tendencies can pop up in other situations, too. For example, a 2019 study found that women are more prone than men to get jealous over their employers’ physical attractiveness. Men, on the other hand, are more prone to feel jealous over their employers’ physical dominance. Both men and women experience jealousy when their employers appear more socially successful.
Research suggests that jealousy is not inherently a bad thing. A 2021 study found, for instance, that friendship jealousy (when a person is threatened by their friend’s new romantic relationship or friend) can help to protect and maintain friendships.
Whether you have jealous tendencies in romantic relationships, friendships, or other situations, here are some tips on how to handle your jealousy in a healthy way.
1. Identify your insecurities
Be real with yourself about what your insecurities are, where they come from, what you do to keep them alive, and what you could potentially start doing to transform them into secure bases of existence.
To do this, you can journal, meditate, or speak with a therapist. A mental health professional can help you identify the root of your jealousy and how to overcome it.
2. Communicate openly with your partner
Consider speaking with your partner about your experience. Opening up about your feelings of jealousy can give them the opportunity to understand where you’re coming from and adjust their behaviors to help you feel more secure within your relationship.
3. Talk about it with other people
To realize that you’re not alone, ask other people about what jealousy is like for them and how they cope with it. This offsets the shame associated with feeling like ‘there’s something wrong with us for feeling this way’.
4. Let go of judgment
Jealousy has a bad reputation, but it’s not always a negative feeling.
Jealousy sends us a message about the unhealed parts of ourselves. The defensive behaviors we exhibit to protect us from feeling jealous are usually what feel bad or wrong. But the feeling itself is actually a useful tool for us to get to know ourselves better.
5. Try self-therapy exercises
Especially if your jealousy comes from toxic past relationships or traumatic situations, coping exercises might help you manage the negative feelings associated with jealousy.
You might find some of these practices helpful whenever you start to feel jealous:
emotional freedom techniques (EFT), or tapping
repeating positive affirmations
exposure therapy (e.g., entering settings that provoke jealousy to promote desensitization versus trying to control or avoid situations)
trust building exercises
A therapist who specializes in relationship issues can offer more personalized tools for you to use as well.
6. Learn more about jealousy
Jealousy almost always has a deeper-rooted emotion behind it. It can be a manifestation of fear: that we’re not enough, attractive, or interesting, that we won’t be chosen, that other people or things are more important to someone than we are.
Other potential sources of jealousy include:
a partner’s ongoing relationships with their exes
not trusting that your partner is committed to your relationship
wishing you had what someone else has (e.g., career, friends, relationships)
a learned emotional pattern from observing or being raised in an environment heavy with jealousy
conscious or unconscious attachments to competition
a projection of how we genuinely feel or think about ourselves
losing one or both parents (from divorce, death, or physical, psychological, or emotional abandonment)
While jealousy is often something internal that we need to work on, that’s not always the case. Either way, learning more about yourself can help you better understand where your feelings of jealousy come from and how, based on your personal needs, you can cope with them.
If you’re wondering how to minimize feelings of jealousy in a relationship, friendship, or a colleague, there are many ways to find relief and overcome it, such as:
identify your insecurities
talk with your partner about your feelings
ask others how they experience and cope with jealousy
let go of judgment
practice grounding, tapping, and other self-led exercises
learn more about jealousy, its triggers, and how to heal
If your jealous tendencies adversely impact your relationships, career, or life, consider speaking with a therapist. Learning how to manage jealousy in a healthy way may take time and effort, but it’s possible and it’s never too late.