Sunday, January 21, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Burned once, woman is trying to deal with her extreme jealousy

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Burned once, she's trying to deal with her extreme jealousy

Q: At times I get extremely jealous and insecure. For instance, the other night my boyfriend was getting work-related text messages from a female co-worker, which was fine and understandable. However, when she sent a text at 12:30 a.m., I felt she was crossing a line. I got mad at my boyfriend for allowing her to text so late at night.

He said it was nothing like that but told her to please stop texting and she did. After reading a past column of yours ( wapo.st/M2Ojle), I feel like I am a controlling abuser. How can a person tell the difference between extreme jealousy and "normal" jealousy (if there is such a thing)? For what it's worth, I have been cheated on before, by my ex-husband, and felt that I overlooked his seemingly innocent contact with female co-workers that led to his cheating.

Jealous

A: "I got mad at my boyfriend for allowing her to text" — her actions are his fault? How does one "allow" someone to text at a given time?

There's nothing wrong with acting on an alarm that something isn't right — and that's what jealousy is in an emotionally healthy person, an alarm.

But when your alarm is so sensitive that even benign things set it off; when you're forbidding partners from doing things you don't deny yourself; and when you're dictating how others can and can't live their lives, then you've got unhealthy jealousy.

Look at the language you used, saying you overlooked "contact with female co-workers that led to his cheating." But that's not how it works. What led to his cheating was his decision to act on his impulses to cheat. A person who doesn't have those impulses won't cheat, nor will someone who has them but chooses not to act on them. And all these cheaters and non-cheaters have one important thing in common: They all have contact with temptation. You can't can't can't prevent cheating by keeping people on a leash.

Here's what you can do:

• Live with integrity yourself, and choose partners who do the same.

• Be realistic. No one does, or even can, behave perfectly; people who are more forgiving of human frailty seem to be the victims of it less than those who are rigid or intolerant.

• Be respectful of your internal alarms that something's wrong — and be pro-active in dealing with an alarm that's too touchy by getting into therapy. If you've been burned to the point of "trust issues," it's your job to deal with that; it's not your next partner's job to follow your rules to avoid upsetting you.

• Realize that if you don't trust your partner but stay in the relationship anyway, leveling accusations and using them to justify imposing stricter and stricter limits on him, then you are in fact abusive.

If that's you, then it takes guts to see and admit it. The next step is to admit the same thing out loud to someone who is qualified to help you.

None of this means your boyfriend isn't (or is) cheating. My point is merely that your ability to trust is about you, independent of any one person's worthiness of that trust. You need to be able to trust for your jealousy alarm to work.

Comments
2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

On Saturday, the kids get first crack at the booty from the pirates at the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, the annual alcohol-free party on Bayshore Boulevard. To kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has...
Published: 01/18/18
You can buy the balls from Amalieís Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

You can buy the balls from Amalieís Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

More than 100,000 people showed up at Amalie Arena in 2016 to frolic in a huge ball pit. It was a sea of 1.2 million white orbs so vast that grown men could belly flop and remain afloat. Almost two years after the Beach Tampa packed up, some 15,000 l...
Published: 01/18/18

Tell Me About It: FaceTime offense lands sister on the outs

FaceTime offense lands sister on the outsQ: When does FaceTime become an intrusion?My sister-in-law recently relocated to our area. We invited her to join us for our traditionally quiet New Yearís Eve celebration. About two hours before midnight, she...
Published: 01/18/18

Tell Me About It: Cousinís husband pursues young sisters

Cousinís husband pursues young sisters Q: I just found out that my nieceís husband has made inappropriate comments/propositions to both of my daughters, one still a minor (17). I have to tell my niece, right? I donít want to hurt her.Broken HeartA: Y...
Published: 01/18/18
Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend † Gasparilla Children’s Parade: A week before the more raucous pirate invasion, the G-rated version hits the streets. The Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza and Parade kicks off Gasparilla season with a bicycle safety...
Published: 01/17/18
Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Childrenís Parade

Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Childrenís Parade

PICKING AND GRINNING: Steve Martin and Martin ShortThere wasnít a lot of bluegrass being played around Hamilton, Ontario, when Martin Short was a kid. But his decades-long friendship with Steve Martin has made him a fan, which brings An Evening With ...
Published: 01/17/18

Tell Me About It: Mom needs reassurance of their gratitude

Mom needs reassurance of their gratitudeQ: Whenever my mother gives me or my family member a gift, she ends up asking about it several times afterward. Does not matter if it was $5 or expensive.We always thank her for gifts, and these comments feel l...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Sister-in-lawís gall is of epic proportions

Sister-in-lawís gall is of epic proportionsQ: Iím a two-time, currently-Stage IV breast cancer survivor. When I was told I needed a double mastectomy, I did the research and decided to "go flat."For dressy occasions, I wear prostheses, but theyíre no...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy makes move harder to bear

Pregnancy makes move harder to bearIím 27 weeks pregnant and just moved to a new city for a great job, but I think I made a big mistake. I loved my old life and feel so homesick for it. But my husband and I bought a house, so moving is not a feasible...
Published: 01/15/18

Tell Me About It: Mom is floored by daughterís pregnancy

Mom is floored by daughterís pregnancyQ: Iím literally shaking as I type this. My 15-year-old daughter is pregnant. I canít believe it. We had many good discussions about waiting until she was ready, using birth control when she was, but it all did n...
Published: 01/14/18