Jealousy is a difficult emotion to manage. If you aren’t careful, it can take over your thoughts and cause issues in relationships and everyday life. Feelings of jealousy can be hard to ignore however, and often go hand in hand with personal feelings of inadequacy.
Dealing with jealousy over your spouse’s past relationships in an important part of building trust and security in your new relationship.
If you don’t, these feelings will just fester beneath the surface and continue to cause problems for you both. But how to do you handle these feelings? They often come on very strong and tend to be something shared across the spectrum of men in relationships. Going so far as to become normalized, many men see it as justified in feeling this way about their spouse’s past.
But we can’t expect that every person we meet in our adult years has just been existing in an empty box waiting for us to come along.
When you are in the dating world in your twenties, thirties and beyond it is normal to assume a new partner has a sexual past. They may even have children or a previous marriage.
The first and most important thing in any aspect of a relationship is open communication. Be willing to talk to your spouse and for her to talk to you. This means being open to the things you know might come up in conversations about her past, such as old boyfriends.
Right off the bat, if you exhibit jealous tendencies it is going to be harder for her to open up to you. If she is worried about upsetting you or hurting your feelings, she’ll be reluctant to tell you anything. Which may sound preferable since if you don’t have to hear about it you can’t get upset right? But if your partner feels like she can’t talk to you that in turn is going to cause its own set of problems.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a situation where you sit down together and list off old partners.
However, stories and anecdotes about her past are going to eventually include other people. It’s important that she feels like she can share these things with you. It’s important to remember that she wants to share these stories with you as a means to get closer to you.
A good way to try and get a handle on your feelings of jealousy is to practice some introspection. The first step is to find a quiet place and get comfortable. Next, take some slow deep breaths. Try to clear your mind and body of tension and stress while you breath deeply. Now ask yourself the reasons behind your feelings. Are you comparing yourself to your partner’s previous experiences? Are you worried that she is comparing you to other men? Be honest with yourself. Does your partners worth diminish based on the number of partners she has had? This is a common feeling among men, but one that should be dealt with and moved past in a healthy way.
Modern men know that how many partners a woman has had in bed has no bearing on who she is as a person.
Yet this idea has persisted in pop culture and our collective social consciousness for so long it’s hard to move past it. It is so important that we erase this from our vernacular and way of thinking so that the next generation of women can be raised as empowered and comfortable in their sexuality. Also, for the next generation of men to grow up non-judgmental and able to interact in relationships without feelings of jealousy getting in the way.
As far as the comparison between yourself and previous partners is concerned—whether it’s you, making a subconscious comparison or fear that your partner is making a comparison—this comes down to confidence and trust.
Trust that your partner is with you because she wants to be with you. Her previous relationships are over for any number of reasons. Regardless of anything else, this is the relationship she is in now.
The more you both can focus on that together the better your relationship will become. Self-confidence is a harder thing to address as low self-confidence can stem from any number of places; even going back to childhood issues and insecurities. However, it is important for your mental health to recognize yourself for your strengths and not compare yourself to others. Remember the old saying “compare and despair.” If this is something you struggle within other aspects of your life, it may be worth seeking help from a qualified counselor or men’s therapist to help you work through these issues and feel better about yourself as a whole.
Another cause of jealousy or envy when thinking of your partner’s past lovers can be fear.
Fear of losing someone is a powerful motivator and can cause people to act in ways they wouldn’t normally act. This fear is easily assuaged by discussing the relationship with your partner head on. Explain what you are feeling and ask for validation.
Define the parameters of the relationship together and ask for assurance that you have no reason to fear. If the fear stems from leftover feelings from your previous relationship—being the victim of infidelity for example—it’s important to remind yourself that this is a new relationship.
If you can’t move past those fearful feelings and it starts to negatively impact your life and relationship with your partner then it’s time to confront those issues with a counselor, therapist, or in a group session. There are lots of places to get help available as well as online forums to discuss your feelings and insecurities or fears with other people who have experienced similar things.
Overall, jealousy is a feeling that will come and go throughout relationships. Fear of losing someone we love coupled with feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem can exacerbate normal feelings. Feelings that would otherwise simply run their course and disappear quickly. Passion and deeply affecting personal feelings are one of the things that make us human. It’s important to feel and accept these feelings, processing them instead of dwelling on them.
Maintaining a healthy and respectful relationship with your significant other takes effort.
Recognizing that these feelings and any behaviors that stem from them can be harmful to that relationship is the first step to healing and moving forward in a way that benefits both you and your spouse. Be honest with each other and yourself. Talking through things that are bothering you with a certified men’s therapist can help with the feelings of jealousy and can help mend your relationship.
If you are still struggling with feelings of jealousy, we can help you work through it with or without your partner. If this is something that is affecting you both, couples therapy might be exactly what you need to work together and move past this issue. If you are silently struggling with your jealousy, working through those feelings on your own can be beneficial to helping you get to where you want to be. Let us help you work through these emotions and move forward with your relationship. Book a Session with one of our specialized men’s therapists today.