my name is . . . and I'm from Germany. I've just discovered your blog and find it admiring how you take your time and share your thoughts with other people. Also, I think that your answers seem to be both caring and sensible. The question I would like to ask you concerns relationships. I am in a relatively long-term relationship (4 years) and overall, I feel happy, though we have been through lots of ups and downs. These "downs" mostly result from negative feelings and jealousy and I know that this definitely comes from me. I do feel beautiful, but I wished that I felt beautiful not because other people tell me so, but because I, myself, believe it. When I have the feeling that my boyfriend might look at other girls (we both agree, that there are other attractive people in the world, but we don't feel emotionally attached to anyone else :D), I just feel ugly and sad, even though he says that I am perfect for him. I can't stop comparing to other women, which is frustrating. How do you personally deal with jealousy and do you have an advice how you cope with insecurities?
Thank you so much,
Oh I am so so sorry to hear this. Jealously is a really tough thing, and it can be triggered by the most random of circumstances. And it can hijack your brain on a very strange level. I am not a jealous person by nature – it usually takes quite a lot to make me feel insecure. And with my husband, jealously hasn’t really been an issue thankfully. However this does not mean I haven’t had experience on both sides of the jealously equation in previous relationships. I really empathize with you, this is a hard thing to deal with.
Before I address the insecurity side of this – I ask you to try and find what it is about you that is triggering this jealousy. He sounds like he has been reassuring to you about why he is with you. You haven’t mentioned anything that he does that makes you question his fidelity. Obviously I don’t know the whole story, but I am going off a stable, loving relationship. So there is something much bigger at play here, and I think it will be very beneficial to the both of you if you looked at it. It usually seems to stem from something in childhood - therapy is always a good tool here. Once you understand why you react the way you do, it becomes a lot easier to look at it objectively and to begin to change the behavior. It will also help you to treat yourself with a lot more love and care.
I have been in a relationship where I was driven insane with jealously. Thankfully only one, but it really took me a while to see what was happening. I learned once we broke up that we were just not a good fit. The way he was with other girls would drive me insane – but that was just the way he was. There was nothing wrong with him, or with me, but we both needed a partner who was different. Looking back I learned a lot about myself, and what I needed from a relationship. And what was a deal breaker for me. So I ask you to try as hard as you can to look objectively at his behavior. Is there something repetitive that is driving you to jealousy? Have you asked him to modify his behavior and he hasn’t? These are signs that you guys may not be in understanding about your emotional needs. Try asking friends about his behavior – they will be objective. See if you are being rational or not.
My advice to help separate yourself from your insecurities would be to start to build yourself separately from him. This is not advice to break up – far from it – but four years is a long time to be with someone, you get very comfortable and scared of losing them. I feel that in order to be secure in a relationship you need to be 100% certain of yourself and who you want to be. So start to think about who you are without him. What do you like to do, what are you good at, and who do you want to be in the world? And each day start to focus on those things. You will begin to realize that you are more than enough for him, and for everyone. Every day do things that empower yourself. You have to work at it. I still have to work at it. But when it starts to click, it is the best feeling in the world.
I can honestly say that even as a model I hated everything about the way I looked for most of my life. I felt forever that my face is plain and boring, lips too thin, my hips too big and my legs too fat. But hanging onto these beliefs was ruining my life. It would stop me from going for swims in the ocean because I didn’t want to expose my “fat body”. It stopped me smiling in photos because I didn’t want people to see my puffy face, and for my lips to be stretched even thinner. I too used to compare myself constantly to girls who I thought looked perfect, and I used these evil thoughts to starve myself down to a very unhealthy size. This is no way to live. I was cutting myself off at every opportunity to grow because I didn’t feel like I deserved to. Your beliefs that you aren’t enough for your boyfriend, that you aren’t good looking enough are slowly eroding your relationship. But way more importantly, they are eroding your sense of self.
Because here’s the truth. You do not need your boyfriend to be the person you want to be. None of us need our partners to take our place in the world. A loving, balanced relationship is so incredible yes, and important, but it will never come about when you look to your partner for your self esteem. It all has to come from within.
I wish there was a magic cure for this that I could just share with you and all the other messages I get from young women who are struggling with self esteem. But there really isn’t. It is a highly personal road, and it is far from easy. Our society does not make it easy for us to break free from the diminishing lies we get told. But we have to.
So I say, develop your sense of self and what you are capable of. Learn about who you want to be without him, and start to become that person. Show up every single day to your self, and start small. Focus on what you can do every single day to move you in that direction. For me that is writing, reading, studying and connection. You will start to find yourself growing beyond your wildest imagination.
And your boyfriend will fit in your life exactly how he is supposed to. As you will in his. You will not be engulfed by the other. But you will love and support each other and your relationship will grow so much stronger as a result 😀
I hope this helps!!