How “Instant Jealousy” Works

How “how to stop being jealousHave you ever experienced this?

You’re with your guy in a public place. A restaurant or the mall. A woman walks by. Before you even glance at his reaction, you’re seething. She’s gorgeous. A part of you is immediately jealous.

Then you see your guy’s face. His eyes are locked on her. Now you feel even worse.

That seed of jealousy sprouts to a full-grown emotion in a heartbeat.

Jealousy doesn’t usually work this way.  It’s usually a suspicion or slight uneasiness that takes weeks or months before it gets labeled as a problem situation.

But “instant jealousy” is a gut feeling. It’s something that springs up out of nowhere when you don’t expect it.

Feeling instant jealousy doesn’t mean you’re a jealous person. It just means you’re normal. Anyone can empathize.

The problem with instant jealousy isn’t that it happens. It’s that it catches you off guard.  So, you might react before you think.

For some women, that means calling their guy out. “I saw you looking at her!” Others might turn passive aggressive, refusing to say why they’re upset but making it clear they aren’t happy. Still others will pout, feeling defeated by the fear that their man will chase after some random eye candy.

But here’s the thing about instant jealousy. Studies tell us it rarely leads to accurate conclusions.[i]

When you get a spontaneous gut feeling that your guy might be into someone else, the last thing you should do is trust that gut feeling. It’s almost never right.

But because those feelings are strong, you need a strong strategy to fight back. Here are three things you can do to stop instant jealousy in its tracks.

  1. Keep spontaneous jealous thoughts to yourself.

First and foremost, don’t share instant jealousy – overtly or passive-aggressively.

Most of the time, instant jealousy wilts as fast as it bloomed. If some random woman in the mall catches your guy’s eye, he won’t even remember her 10 minutes later. By then, you’ll be browsing in another store, having fun with your guy.

But only if you keep it to yourself.

  1. Test jealous hunches with FACTS.

If you’re having a hard time letting instant jealousy go, attack it with facts.

Simple questions work wonders here. For example, who is your guy with? (You.) Does it make sense for him to be dating you if he doesn’t find you attractive? (Nope.) Even if he noticed some other girl, who’s he leaving here with? (You, again.)

Just because your partner finds someone else appealing, that doesn’t mean he’s plotting to leave you. It just means he’s a bit insensitive to how his ogling will affect you.

After all, you’ve noticed cute guys since you started dating, right? But you’re smart enough to avoid gawking at them!

  1. Balance out relationship fears with positive thoughts.

Finally, replace any residual fears with something good.

As soon as you push instant jealousy out of your mind, it’ll leave behind a blank space. Fill that space with positive thoughts about your relationship and your guy.

Think about how he made a big deal out of your birthday. Or the way he cheers you up when you’re having a rough day. Or even small things, like the fact that he held the door open for you on the way in.

how to stop being jealousJealousy, even the instant kind, makes us blind to the good things about our partners. So, make it a point to remember why you’re with him.

Instant jealousy is totally normal. Practically every man and woman feels it.

But instead of acting on this particular gut feeling, fight it. Keep instant jealousy to yourself, test it with facts, and replace feelings of fear with positive thoughts.

Do that, and instant jealousy won’t be more than a temporary blip of irritation on your radar.

Keep in mind, this technique is for investing in a good relationship and protecting it from unnecessary negative waves of emotion.  It’s not a replacement for a well thought out discussion of why ogling at other women is disrespectful to you.

You may still need to have that discussion with your guy. Make sure you do it from a position of emotional strength (and without an audience) rather than in a moment of impulsive frustration.

[i] Flora, Carlin. “Gut Almighty.” Psychology Today., 1 May 2007. Web. 06 Oct. 2016.

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11 thoughts on “How “Instant Jealousy” Works

  1. Corry said:

    I’ve been with my man for 11 1/2 years
    we’ve been married almost a year in 18 days. Our anniversary is coming and we’re not getting along very good … We’ve been through everything in the past , cheating, lying, secrets, being deciteful… name it we’ve been through it I feel… we both love each other and want to be together we have 2 beautiful children that are 8 and 10 . He has bipolar and I have borderline personality disorder PTSD and depression. my jealousy has been over the top lately to the point where I don’t visit my family very often or alone.. and I feel I can’t leave my husband’s side and there’s always an issue .. I hate that I’ve become like this .. I want to change it and I’ve been trying and I just don’t know what else to do because my husband feels that I’m smothering him and hes checking out any thing that walks by which set me off or when he talks to people we know and flirts with them (he has cheated with an old friend (or so I thought) of mine and I’ve also cheated on him .. please any advice to help would be very useful. I don’t want to break my family up because of my behavior .. I no many people say we shouldn’t be together but we don’t want to be separated either

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Corry. You’re a brave person to reach out for help and to keep pressing on toward the best life possible for yourselves and for your beautiful kids.

      When mental health factors are a significant part of the relationship equation, it makes sense to seek one-on-one individual counseling from a licensed mental health therapist like a psychologist or marriage and family therapist. Wishing you health and happiness!

  2. Francine said:

    To Gart,

    I too suffer from reliving my past relationships. I feel completely and utterly attracted to my current partner, both in and out of the bedroom. However, I am consumed with jealousy because I fear he is carrying out an affair with another woman. While telling me he loves me! Now as far as your gal, is there something she does or says to make you feel inadequate? Mine used to be totally “into” the bedroom activities. Now, it is as if he “has to” in order for the affair not to be the reason we break up.
    Personally, I probably judge him on my past relationships. Maybe I am just too hard on him? Or maybe, I am too afraid to admit what has been staring me right in the face for a while.
    Relationships are so hard once you have been burned. So take it easy on her and yourself. Most women don’t stay in relationships if they can’t get satisfied. I think you may be too hard on yourself.

  3. Twinewmoon said:

    I meet my man at work. We’ve been dating for about a year now. I get very jealous when other females workers gets near him and he there laughing and being super nice to them. So we start fighting about it. I tried not to get jealous. But it’s so hard because no one knows he dating. I feel like he doesn’t want to tell them. I’m in a secret relationship. What shall I do?

  4. Una said:

    My boyfriend won’t let any one know we are in a relationship not even his x wife he tells her we are not together. When he’s with me he won’t answer her calls but calls her back soon as we are apart…. When he’s with her he won’t answer my calls he hides a lot of things from me… When I find out he turns it around on me and gets mad at me when I confront him or try to tell him my feelings.

    • James Bauer said:

      Only you can decide if you find this kind of behavior from your boyfriend acceptable. However, I’m guessing that since you brought it up here in your blog comment that you find it to be a big problem as well.

      Typically, when I consult with people about issues like this, I find that they already know the truth about what this means and what must be done about it. Sometimes they just need someone to validate their perspective (that this is not right and you deserve to be treated better).

      The one thing I’d like to point out regarding your comment relates to your comment about his anger. Some people use anger as a way of controlling interpersonal dynamics. But it only works as long as you participate. You participate when you accept the unwritten rule that it is your responsibility to control his anger by avoiding topics that he has built a hedge of anger around in order to keep you out.

      Let’s set the record straight. It is not your job (in any relationship) to manage someone else’s anger.

      Your job is to gently express your wants, needs, and desires in ways that make him want to join with you in bringing those things about. He is supposed to do the same so that you can join with him to enhance his happiness. If you cannot express your needs and desires without provoking his anger, then the question is this…

      Will you help him to recognize this problematic interpersonal dynamic by pointing out the way he is using anger to shut down important questions? Or will you leave it to him to figure out on his own after you have moved on in search of a better companion?

  5. Gart said:

    Having trouble with letting her past go. I know this sounds nuts but I’m struggling. I don’t feel like I’m her type, and that she’s not that attracted to me even when she tells me how handsome I am. The one thing that I do not want is to loose her because of my issues. I know deep down she loves me because of the man that I am, but I want to be wanted on a sexual level that I have issues with accepting that I am enough in the bedroom. I was cheated on in my previous marriage, and my last relationship.

  6. DB said:

    Nice. Instant Jealousy works both ways. I am not jealous and I don’t even care if my man flirts a bit as long as he flirts with me and lets other women know we are together. I do the same for him.

  7. Juliet Ramsay said:

    Yes I want to know

    • Ceci said:

      So I met my current boyfriend at work and we’ve known each other for almost 3 years and been together for a year and a half. Before I started working at the same place as him, he already knew pretty much everything about me because of some of his friends. When we started talking I was in a bad relationship which I soon later left to be with him. After being together for 9 months, we decided to live together but his cousin ended up moving in as well which I was not happy about. He works as a chef and is constantly joking around and flirting with the girl customers. When I try talking to him about it, he gets pissed off and says that I’m being too jealous. We have had several arguments about my jealously and he always makes comments that he feels miserable being with me, that I’m annoying, that he doesn’t want to be with me anymore and some other things as well. Those comments truly do hurt and I’m trying not to get jealous but I feel so insecure because of the comments he has made. I just do not know what to do anymore?!! I do not want to loose him and I do not want to keep being jealous or insecure but I also want him to realize that what he does at work… bothers me and the comments he makes are so hurtful. Please help…

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