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Jealousy Advice: "How do I know when to set boundaries in my relationship?"
By Susie and Otto Collins

When you've been jealous in the past in this or a
different relationship, it might feel difficult to know when to set a boundary with your partner.

Perhaps you have a difficult time knowing when to chock the uncomfortable way that you're feeling up to "mere" jealousy or when it's time to have a serious talk with your mate about the issue.

We advise you to never simply dismiss, minimize or avoid how you're feeling-- even if, to you, your emotions seem dramatic or inappropriate.

We suggest that whenever you are feeling something intensely-- such as jealousy-- you take some time to explore your emotions.

Search within yourself first to get clear about what's true for you and then decide whether it is something to talk about with your partner or not.

All feelings are important.

If jealousy is fueling the thoughts you are having, then it's vital to you and your relationship that you take a closer look.

Perhaps your jealousy is mostly rooted in the past and doesn't pertain as much to your current relationship.

If so, ask yourself what specific things are unresolved about your past. Map out steps you might take to make a completion.

Once you start making completions about the past, it is far easier to focus in on the present and what's going on in your relationship right now.

At that point, you can usually approach your mate with a boundary or make a request that the two of you come to an agreement that may also help to ease the jealousy you're feeling.

Carly is torn up inside. She feels jealous, angry and helpless about what she just discovered. While answering her boyfriend Andy's cell phone a few days ago, she inadvertently hit a button and a nude photo of another woman popped onto the phone's screen.

Carly quickly put his phone down and hasn't mentioned anything to Andy.

She feels embarrassed about her accidental discovery yet wants to know why Andy would have such a photo on his phone. Carly worries that this is a woman who Andy actually knows, or used to know.

She has a lot of questions but can't bring herself to ask them.

As much as Carly wants Andy to explain the nude photo on his cell phone-- and then to remove it-- she also fears that he'll just think she's jealous. The woman in the photo is very attractive, after all.

What's non-negotiable for you?
As we suggested above, when intense emotions, such as jealousy, arise within you, take notice. Pause and look closely at where these feelings are coming from.

Once you have more clarity about your feelings, then ask yourself if there are boundaries or agreements you'd like to set with your partner.

No matter what's happened in your past or your mate's past, you are both entitled to set boundaries and make agreement requests.

Is this issue something that is non-negotiable for you? This is important to discern within yourself first.

There are times when couples make agreements and, in order to keep an even keel, one person may not be totally honest about how strongly he or she feels about a particular topic.

Carly finally realizes that she has to talk with Andy about the nude photo she found on his cell phone. She plans to ask him who the photo is of and what his relationship is right now with this woman.

Because Carly and Andy have an agreement that they are only dating one another and are monogamous, she feels that it is non-negotiable for him to be holding on to a nude photo of another woman he knows, or used to know.

This feels to Carly like a violation of their agreement.

Listen to understand as you share and hear each other's needs.
Even as you set boundaries and state what is non-
negotiable for you, be sure to listen to understand. This might seem difficult, but give it a try.

You can be honest about how jealous you feel when your partner acts or speaks in particular ways. And you can listen to try to understand what is motivating him or her to act and speak in these ways that trigger you.

Pay special attention to the needs that your partner may want to have met. This doesn't have to be a negative judgment about you, instead it can be informative.

You can make changes or adjustments in your own behavior if you choose to.

At the same time, state your needs and explain how the agreements you'd like to make and even the non-negotiable boundaries you are setting fit in with your needs.

We want to stress that you-- and your partner-- deserve to have your needs met and listened to.

When Carly courageously sits down with Andy and talks with him about the nude photo on his cell phone, she asks for the information she wants to know and she states her boundary.

He finally admits that the photo is of a woman whom he dated in college whom he recently re-connected with online.

He says that he didn't ask her to send him the photo but he also concedes that he's saved the photo for a few weeks now.

Carly and Andy then begin to talk about their relationship agreement to be monogamous and specifically what that means to each of them. They listen to one another and decide their next step from this listening and sharing.

While jealousy is a destructive and disconnecting emotion, it is one that needs to be acknowledged and explored. Tune in to yourself, no matter how difficult it seems.

As you are clear about what you are feeling and what you want, you will know if there are boundaries to set and agreements to be made with your partner.

From this place of honesty and openness, you two can move closer together.






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Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-459-8121.
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