— “Why is she running 20 minutes late? Is she seeing someone?”
— “He is always on his phone, he must be chatting with a girl.”
— “She closed her browser when I approached her, I am sure it’s another guy”.
— “He hasn’t answered my text for an hour already, what’s going on?”
— “She came home from work with disheveled hair, I just know she is cheating on me”.
— “I saw him flirting with this girl at the party, what is he up to?”
You find yourself obsessing with these thoughts and it seems like you just can’t get them out of your mind. It consumes your time, attention and makes you increasingly uneasy around your partner. You suspect that they are lying to you and you’re looking for any signs to confirm your worst nightmare – that they are cheating on you or planning to leave you. Tension is building, and seemingly innocent remarks turn into fights, things are getting worse and worse. Nothing they say or do can lessen your fears and suspicions. The more they deny that they are doing “anything wrong,” the more you mistrust them. The vicious cycle is born.
The next step: You make more and more efforts to control your partner. You secretly go through their phone, their social media and texts. You constantly call or text them trying to find out where they are. You watch them like a hawk when you’re out together. Do they make an eye contact with strangers? Are they flirting with somebody? Do they seem more interested in their phone than in conversation with you? Your partner complains that you drive them crazy, that you are suffocating them, “smothering” them, but you just can’t stop.
What’s it all about?
What’s happening? How did you get so caught up in this insanity? A lot of times jealousy is fueled by insecurities which stem from our childhood. Maybe deep inside you feel like you “don’t deserve love,” or that you’re “not good enough.” Maybe one of your parents cheated on the other and you witnessed the suffering they endured. It may also be caused by more recent events. Maybe your previous partner cheated on you, you were really hurt and you now have a hardest time trusting anyone. The reasons may be different, but the result is the same: this IS destroying your relationship.
It’s very hard for a partner who is being constantly bombarded by suspicions, unfair accusations, constant control to stay understanding and empathic. It’s impossible for them to prove that that they are innocent as no such proof exists. Your partner grows increasingly frustrated and tired of your behavior. If that continues, eventually they might reach their breaking point and then your worst nightmare will come true – they will leave or cheat. Have you heard the expression – “Life is self-fulfilling prophecy”? This is it. Your behavior literally pushed them out of the door.
So, what can you do? How can you fix it?
1. Control doesn’t work
It’s very critical for you to realize one of the most important things – control never stopped anyone from leaving or cheating. It’s just doesn’t work. Instead of putting your energy into controlling your partner, use this energy to find answers to the following questions: What is really behind your controlling behavior? What kind of beliefs, feelings and expectations? Are you trying to cover up your own fears and anxiety? Is it helpful? Does it work? What happens if you just let go of your need to control your partner? How will you feel? What is the worst thing that might happen? Will you survive it? The more time and effort you put into this exploration and finding answers to these questions, the more you will understand about yourself. And, the more you understand yourself and what drives you, the more you’ll be able to make necessary changes and heal.
2. Only you can make you “happy”
Notice where most of your attention goes. Do you see it? If you don’t, I’ll give you a hint. I’ll bet that most of your attention goes to your partner and their actions and practically none to yourself. It’s a very common pattern for people who are obsessing about their partner’s fidelity. If all your attention goes to your partner (how to change them, how to control them, how to fix them), it means that you’re not taking responsibility for your own life and happiness. However, ultimately, you’re the only person in the world who can make “you” happy.
Of course, when we fall in love, we think that this person will be our “everything” and will make us happy. But it’s an illusion and not even possible. It’s true that we can feel better and more alive around the ones we love, but in the long run we’re all responsible for own lives.
Okay, it’s all good you might be thinking, but what can I do with this information? The answer again will have to start with some questions: What do you want from life? What prevents you from being happy right NOW? Don’t answer this question with the thought “my partner.” Whatever prevents us from enjoying our life right now is always something inside of us. It can be the tension and fear of losing your partner, some anxiety, an uncertainty, past trauma and so on.
When you discover what prevents you from enjoying your life, you can decide how you want to work with it. This is where your attention should go – to yourself and your life. Once you know what needs to be changed, you can map out a path of how to get there. You can do it yourself or with a help of professional, but this work needs to be done if you want to have good and satisfying relationship with anyone.
This work that you do will make you a much better (happy and relaxed) person and – consequently – a much better partner. By being a good partner yourself, you’ll have a much better chance that your spouse, (girlfriend or boyfriend) won’t leave. Who would want to leave somebody who is good to them and fun to be with?
It might not be an easy journey but believe me it’s well worth the effort!