Someone in your life is jealous, and you value the relationship enough to not simply walk away. But you’re tired of the tension their jealousy can bring to every interaction. And they don’t like it either.
You know that only they can be in charge of their own thoughts and emotions, like jealousy.
But is there anything you can do to help?
There are 2 directions from which to approach helping someone stop being jealous: from the inside and from the outside.
Start exploring inside first:
- Explore your own behavior.
Look honestly at ways you act or behave, choices you make, things you say.
Is there anything there that might conjure up jealousy in someone else?
- Explore your own relationships.
While looking at yourself honestly, think about all of your other relationships.
Is jealousy popping up in a lot of them? (You may also want to read “I like that they’re jealous”)
Then, start moving your exploratory gaze outward:
- Try seeing through their eyes.
It’s hard, we know, but try to imagine what the jealous person is seeing and thinking and feeling.
Is there anything happening that could create a sense of insecurity in them? (You may also want to read “Why do others become so jealous?”)
- Try talking with them about it, gently.
If you’ve read some of the other articles on this site, you have some idea of how feelings of shame can make the jealousy experience one of the most uncomfortable in a person’s life.
Approach them when things are calm, and try using a Tough Situation Sandwich:
- Begin by letting the person know that you value this relationship; if this is someone very special to your heart, let them know, right up front. That’s the opening slice of bread.
- Next, the “meat” (or veggies, depending on your preference) of the sandwich: Describe how you have felt about their jealousy. Focus on your own feelings, not on their actions. For example: “I felt hurt and not trusted when you said…”
- Finish with another slice of that feel-good bread: Remind them again that this relationship is meaningful to you, and if appropriate, that the person is special in your life.
After you’ve served the Tough Situation Sandwich, ask openly for their thoughts — don’t demand. Simply ask, for example: “I’m wondering what you think about what I said?”
Remember: because of how shame and jealousy are often linked, it wouldn’t be unusual for the jealous person to deny they are jealous. If that happens, sometimes it helps to speak in terms of theoretical — not actual — events.
For example: “Okay, I could be wrong; and if you ever did feel jealous about that, I would hope you’ll talk to me about it. I’d hate for something like that to get between us.”
Keep in mind that while you might want to completely change how the other person feels, a more realistic goal is opening up the communication.
If you can talk together openly and without pointing fingers of blame, you could find that your relationship deepens in a positive way.
If, on the other hand, there seems to be no way to discuss the topic of jealousy without anger rising up, you might find it helpful to read “Should I be afraid of their jealousy?”