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How to Recognize the Signs of Jealousy in Someone & Guide Them Out

Jealousy is a nasty part of any relationship. Learn how to recognize the signs of jealousy and work through them to prevent manipulation and dysfunction.

Signs of Jealousy

Jealousy is quite common. We’ve all felt it. Maybe we’re jealous of how someone on social media looks, how successful a former classmate is, or how much money someone has. The signs of jealousy are everywhere. But it isn’t always unhealthy. It isn’t always a danger to a relationship. 

Sometimes jealousy can be a slight sting or a moment in time. But, when jealousy affects how you think, it becomes a problem. When it becomes so strong that it overwhelms your mind, makes you irrational, or wavers your trust, it becomes a problem. And that is the jealousy we’re talking about today. 

It is this kind of jealousy you should be aware of, and know how to handle if you want a successful relationship.

Innocent jealousy can quickly turn into something much more dire like possessive behavior, manipulation, and more. 

These things can happen to you or your partner. Being aware of jealousy from both sides is important. You want to know how to acknowledge your own jealousy so you can discuss it, but also know how to spot signs of jealousy in your partner too.

But, first, let’s dive into what causes jealousy, so that when it does arise you can be more understanding of those feelings. 

Why am I so jealous? How to recognize the hidden reasons behind it

Jealousy vs. Envy – How to tell them apart when they feel almost exactly the same

Why do we get jealous?

Jealousy can be brought on by a lack of control, fear of loss, and low self-esteem. It can also be a sign of unhealthy expectations for a relationship.

Consider Ross and Rachel from Friends. Ross had an idea for years of what it would be like to date Rachel. It happens. Then she gets a full-time job that takes up her time. 

A simple bit of jealousy he has about the guy that got her the job turns into neediness, smothering, manipulation, and eventually distrust. 

Jealousy isn’t a simple feeling. What brought it on for Ross were his expectations for their relationship. He got used to things how they were and when they changed he felt like he was losing the love of his life. [Read: How to deal with jealousy in a relationship and learn to overcome it]

Pining for her for years without success led him to also feel insecure about himself. When she focused her time on something other than him, he felt an overwhelming need to control the situation. 

He smothered her with gifts and attention hoping it would win her attention. He felt inferior to a guy she was spending time with at work because he was handsome, they had more in common, and because he was fearful about losing this fantasy of his perfect girl. 

All these things bring on jealousy, and without proper communication, when the signs first show themselves, they can become what they did for Ross and Rachel, the beginning of the end.

Knowing why we get jealous and how it gets out of hand is an important step in learning how to spot the signs of jealousy.

[Read: How to handle controlling behavior in a relationship]

The signs of jealousy to keep an eye on when someone tries to control you

Jealousy can show its ugly head through a number of signs. These things can be rather obvious in some cases, but other times they can be subtle and downplayed so that the person feeling jealous doesn’t show their insecurity. 

This only makes the jealousy issue even worse, but if you can spot the signs of jealousy you can begin to work through it.

#1 There is an issue when your attention is elsewhere. If you get in a fight or if your partner gives you the cold shoulder when your attention is directed somewhere else, this could be a sign of jealousy. Whether you’re focused on work, your family, or your friends, jealousy shows bitterness.

They could be petty in their behavior. They could say rude things about your friends when you get back from a night out. Or they might ignore you when you share stories. If after you’ve spent time with someone other than your partner they seem upset, it is likely a sign of jealousy. [Read: How to deal with passive aggressive behavior calmly and with class]

#2 They knock you down. A jealous partner can become very manipulative very quickly. When you’re excited about a work event, promotion, or visiting a sibling, they will try to lessen your excitement. They want you to feel as down as they do. 

They believe that if they can take away your happiness regarding other parts of your life, then you will cling to them how they are clinging to you. [Read: 15 harmless questions to ask someone and reveal their controlling personality instantly]

#3 They won’t admit it. Usually, someone feeling jealous won’t admit it to themselves, or you. They’d deny it and deny more until it gets out of hand. This person is feeling down on themselves. An admission of their insecurities out loud would be wildly vulnerable. 

If you ask them why they’re jealous or accuse them of being jealous and they get defensive, they likely are. They also tend to withdraw affection. For example, they may not say goodnight or kiss you. They may brush off your affections in the thick of it as well. [Read: The 17 biggest signs of a jealous and possessive boyfriend]

#4 They want you to themselves. They prefer to just be with you. If they say they’ll miss you when you’re going out so you invite them, they will plead for you to stay home with them. They will tell you they had plans but decided to stay with you. 

They will also guilt you into staying with them and canceling other plans to be alone with them. Simply, they don’t like to see you with anyone else or even know you’re with anyone else, even if it is perfectly innocent.

#5 They want you to feel jealous. Jealousy can make a kind, caring person vengeful. If they are feeling jealous because you’re giving attention to a new friend, a new job, or anything, they want you to feel the same. 

If you go out, they will give attention to others and maybe even flirt in front of you. They feel embarrassed that you’re giving attention to someone other than them, so they will do the same to you, likely in public. [Read: How to tell for sure if someone is jealous – 25 hints they just can’t hide]

#6 They prefer you to dress down. This is a major sign of jealousy and control. If someone is jealous of the attention you get from other people, especially because of how you look, they will encourage you to dress down. They may claim you look better with no makeup or that sweats are more comfortable. 

They may even get upset or angry when you take time to look nice because they don’t see why you’d dress up for anyone other than them.

#7 They overdo everything. Someone worried about losing you will love bomb you. They will overdo dates and spoil you with gifts. They might write romantic posts on social media. And they may even try to get you to commit or move in with them, thinking you’ll choose that over whatever else is taking your time.

They may move fast by talking to your family without your knowledge, planning surprise vacations, or even proposing to get some type of assurance. [Read: 12 biggest signs of love bombing that can be easily confused with love]

#8 They want control. This could be minor or major. They could do anything from change plans to suit their needs to manipulating you into doing small chores. Anyway they know you will listen to them, and bending you to their will encourages them that you are still there for them. 

Knowing they have this control can temporarily ease their jealousy until the next time you do something they don’t like. [Read: A step-by-step guide to turning your jealous partner into a not-so-jealous one]

#9 They jump to conclusions. They assume anyone and everyone is into you. They assume a salesperson was flirting and may even get angry about it. Likely, they will also get mad at you for entertaining such advances. 

Maybe you spoke to a bartender because you laughed at something they said, your jealous partner assumed you were flirting. They may accuse you of embarrassing them in public. If you like or comment on someone’s Instagram photo, they will assume it means more than it does too. 

They likely won’t listen to reason either. Any rational conversation at this point seems one-sided.

#10 They want details and contacts.  When someone’s jealousy has gotten out of hand, it can show itself through a desire for information. They will want to know where you are, who you’re with, and have communication with you while you’re there. 

They may want a photo of you with a friend to prove there is no one else with you. And they will likely ask you about your time afterwards to see if your details line up. 

[Read: The jealous type – How to reassure and win over a super jealous lover]

How to work through jealousy

Jealousy can quickly become dangerous and controlling. It can take a healthy and trusting relationship and turn it volatile very fast. To get ahead of it, look out for these signs of jealousy. When you see them from yourself or your partner, discuss it. 

Never accuse, but bring up the topic calmly. If your partner seems upset whenever you go out with friends, say something like, “I notice you seem a bit off whenever I go out with my friends, is that true? Why?”

[Read: How to overcome jealousy and walk away from its destructive energy]

This lends itself to an open dialogue where they can feel safe expressing their feelings without you thinking less of them. Let them know you want to work with them so you’re both happy and can get what you need. 

Whenever signs of jealousy arise, instead of becoming frustrated or angry, think about why those feelings are forming. Do they have a past of betrayal? Do you have trust issues? If you aren’t sure talk to them. Let them know that you want them to trust you but understand jealousy happens. Ask what you can do to curb those feelings. 

Being patient with each other can be hard when you don’t understand why they feel jealous. Sometimes they won’t even know why they feel jealous. I’ve been there. 

Sometimes jealousy just comes out of left field. But letting your partner know it is okay and that you’ll work through it together can ease those tensions and prevent things from getting out of hand. 

[Read: How to stop being insecure in a relationship and be happy together instead]

Knowing the signs of jealousy in a relationship and how to handle them when they arise can help you prevent trust issues and become a stronger couple.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...