Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: 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. Now I feel like I am a controlling abuser. How can a person tell the difference between extreme jealousy and normal jealousy? For what its worth, I have been cheated on before by my ex-husband.
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?
Theres nothing wrong with acting on an alarm that something isnt right and thats 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 youre forbidding partners from doing things you dont deny yourself; and when youre dictating how others can and cant live their lives, then youve got unhealthy jealousy.
A person who doesnt have impulses to cheat wont 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 cant prevent cheating by keeping people on a leash.
Heres 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 somethings wrong and be pro-active in dealing with an alarm thats too touchy by getting into therapy. If youve been burned to the point of trust issues, its your job to deal with that; its not your next partners job to follow your rules to avoid upsetting you.
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