What Causes Someone in a Relationship to Be Jealous?

Past dating troubles can contribute to jealousy.
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Unnecessary jealousy comes with a lengthy list of negative side effects for your relationship. Jealousy can make your partner feel untrusted or guilty, and it can tear down the walls of your relationship subjecting you both to misery. In some cases, jealousy can spur a self-fulfilling prophecy, warns clinical director Clifford Lazarus in his Psychology Today article, "Taming Jealousy." In cases like this, your partner grows tired of your controlling and suffocating actions, and in his frustrations, he actually leaves your side and grows closer to another person. Whether you exhibit jealous behavior or your partner does, learning the common causes of jealousy can help you navigate through them through successfully.

1 Insecure Mindset

Insecurity, whether conscious or subconscious, is a common cause of jealousy, says Kim Olver, licensed clinical professional counselor, in her Your Tango article, "Is Jealousy Destroying Your Relationship?" This mind set is driven by the underlying belief you don't think you're good for your partner. Perhaps you believe she is smarter than you, or more likely to succeed in life. In either case, you fear that she will eventually leave you behind. This cause of jealousy calls for you to employ strategies to build your own self-esteem.

2 Rocky Past Experiences

Past experiences with your current partner or with other partners can also direct you toward suspicion, suggests Olver. For example, perhaps a past boyfriend cheated on you, and now you have a hidden fear that your new boyfriend is bound to follow the same trend. Rather than assume all people are the same, consider your partner's actual actions and assess how much you trust him. If necessary, have a conversation with your boyfriend to disclose your past experiences.

3 Objectifying Your Partner

Viewing your girlfriend as an object, rather than a person with free will, is another road to jealousy. For example, you might find yourself competing with other guys to hold onto your "prize." Keep in mind that your girlfriend isn't an idle trophy that you won in a competition. She made the decision to be with you. Ditch the idea that you can control her decisions or keep her locked away from others.

4 Inability to Accept Change

The inability to accept the idea that feelings can or should change can be another jealousy trap, says Olver. You and your boyfriend are currently attached, but the future is always uncertain. In some cases, you might even notice that you feel attracted to another person. Rather than accept this flux in your own feelings, you might project it onto your partner, accusing him of having thoughts of another person, suggests Susan Heitler, who has a clinical psychology doctorate, in her Psychology Today article “Jealousy: The Three Main Causes and Their Cures." While you should protect your currently relationship, be at peace with the fact that changes in feelings, both minor and major, can occur.

Mitch Reid has been a writer since 2006. He holds a fine arts degree in creative writing, but has a persistent interest in social psychology. He loves train travel, writing fiction, and leaping out of planes. His written work has appeared on sites such as Synonym.com and GlobalPost, and he has served as an editor for ebook publisher Crescent Moon Press, as well as academic literary journals.