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Do Unto Others

Please could you advise me how to deal with my own jealousy?  I have been in one of the most nightmarish abuse relationships, and now have problems controlling jealousy as I have huge trust issues.  I read your reply to another stating the man must be harsh with regards to jealousy, even though his girlfriend had been hurt.

What about turning it around and giving some advice for the other side in how to control these emotions.  Some of us know we are doing it, but don’t like the behavior.


Sue, people who have been abused have three paths open to them.  They can become a perpetrator, or a victim, or they can heal.  Two of the paths lead to bad ends.  We don’t want you to be a victim or a victimizer.  We want you to heal.

Our stance on jealousy is that it must be stopped.  As Shakespeare wrote, “Trifles light as air are to the jealous confirmations.”  Other people cannot be punished for nothing.  When jealousy rears its head, the person on the receiving end must put their foot down.  If they don’t, the jealous one will feel justified because the victim acceded to their wishes.

Going along with jealousy doesn’t halt jealousy, it moves it forward.  The proper stance of the victim of jealousy needs to be, “I’m not going to wear this ankle bracelet.  I haven’t committed a crime.  I am not allowing you to call me every 15 minutes because you think you are going to catch me doing something.”

We understand your previous relationship was nightmarish, but there is nothing in your letter showing that your new person is doing anything to justify your jealousy.  Someone was a monster to you, and now you are going to unleash a monster on someone else—the green-eyed monster jealousy.

Take a lesson from the United States during the Cold War.  The US needed to quickly determine if a blob on radar was a flock of geese or a Soviet missile.  Call missiles geese, and the country would be defenseless.  Call geese missiles, and the country would start World War lll.

The US developed techniques to distinguish real threats from imaginary ones.  That’s what you need to do.  When irrational fear arises, stop, question what’s going on, label it correctly, then act.  Relaxation techniques and a good cognitive-behavioral therapist can show you how this is done.

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


Judgmental Inquiries

Why won't my girlfriend, who I love deeply, tell me about all her past loves.  I've told her everything about my loves and sexual partners.  She says, "You have nothing to worry about.  The number, names, times, dates and places are not important, and I will not go into every detail of every situation."

What hurts is she won't be completely honest with me.  The number doesn't matter.  What matters is her trusting me enough to tell me absolutely everything.  With her I am evaluating many decisions that will be truly life-changing.


Justin, the number does matter to you, and most likely the reason is jealousy.  Your girlfriend knows no number will be low enough for you. 

La Rochefoucauld, the acute observer of Louis XIV's court, observed, "In jealousy there is more of self-love than of love."  If you truly loved her you would limit your inquiries to the present.  "I'm with her.  Is she faithful to me?  Yes, that's all I need to know."

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


Predicting The Past

My girlfriend thinks I fancy her sister even though I don't.  She and her sister live together so you can imagine the tension.  It's now at the stage that I'm not allowed to talk to her sister or be in the same room with her.

My girlfriend has been hurt before, and that is where this is coming from.  She's afraid I will go off with her sister, though this will never happen.  What can I do to help her get over this?


Roland, if you swear on a bible or promise to put your own eyes out, it is still not enough to satisfy a jealous person.  Jealousy is about fear, control and power, not love.

You need to nip this pattern of accusation and denial in the bud.  When you talk to your girlfriend, don't coddle her or try to convince her.  That only feeds her jealousy.  Let her know she has a choice.  She can lose one past boyfriend to his misdeeds, or she can continue to accuse you and lose a second.

(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


Star Struck

I am dating the most beautiful girl I've ever seen, and I love her more than anything in the world.  Obviously there is a problem, or I wouldn't be writing.  My girlfriend is extremely jealous, especially of celebrities.  She wouldn't talk to me for three days after she asked if I thought actress Eliza Dushku was attractive, and I said yes.

I never look at other women, and she seems only to be jealous of celebrities who are way out of my league.  Not too many movie stars hang out in my small town in Ohio.  What should I do?


Dean, this could be something you can learn to live with, as long as you don't move to Hollywood.  But we never suggest a person alter or change their actions for the sake of another's irrational jealousy.

If you change yourself for her, she will not respect you.  She may be attractive enough to get any man to jump through hoops for her, but the man she settles down with will probably be a man who doesn't.

(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


Eye Of The Beholder

My wife of four years recently returned from an overseas business trip.  It was a neat opportunity for her to see an area of the world she otherwise would never see.  She asked if I wanted to go, and though I enjoy traveling with her, this particular country doesn’t appeal to me.  Besides, she would spend most of her time working.

She did some sightseeing and brought back pictures.  I’m enclosing one picture which has been bothering me.  The man in the picture is a divorced man from Italy who works for a company my wife’s company does business with.  I told my wife I don’t think the pose is appropriate for two business associates.

She says I am unreasonable, and they are only friends.  Now she is scheduled to go back to this country and wants to meet this man for some one-on-one sightseeing.  I am uncomfortable with that.  She says I don’t trust her.  Am I overreacting?


Jed, imagine your wife is on the phone, and you overhear the word “lame.”  Where would your head go?  She thinks I’m lame…her boss’s ideas are lame…the movie we saw together is lame…or her girlfriend’s horse is lame?

The picture you sent shows two people who are comfortable with each other.  That’s all.  It’s like looking at Hermann Rorschach’s famous inkblots.  The message is in the mind of the viewer, not in the inkblot.  There’s no way to tell whether you are projecting your own fantasies onto her, she is showing camaraderie for business reasons, or she resents your refusal to join her.

You have an intimate four-year history with this woman.  That history is a better guide to the future than a photograph she is unafraid to show you.  If your wife is moving on, jumping her won’t stop her.  If the idea never occurred to her, you just signaled you don’t know who she is as a person.  And if she is teetering on the edge of moving on, you may have just tipped her teeter to totter. 

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)



I'm 17 and have been going out with my girlfriend for five months.  She has a lot of male friends, about eight close ones, and she is very outgoing.  I completely trust her, but I get really mad when I see her talking to other guys.

My jealousy is tearing our relationship apart, and we're going to break up for a couple of days so she can think about things. I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her, but I need help fast.


Steve, jealousy is about ownership and control, snooping and suspicion.  It has nothing to do with love.  You cannot get love by grasping too tightly.  The only way you can get it is by giving another the opportunity and freedom to show they love you.

Jealousy puts a damper on a relationship from both directions.  One grasps, the other wants to flee.  Grasping accuses another of doing something wrong, and they will seek to escape.  When someone loves you, a tight grasp is not required.

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


Falsely Accused

My boyfriend gets mad when I fall asleep and don’t call him after he has dropped me off.  This has only happened three times in a year, yet he always accuses me of seeing someone else.  He also gets mad when he is having problems with his clients.  Is there something we can do to resolve this?


Darci, concern about your safety, or wanting to say goodnight one more time, would show love.  What he is showing is irrational jealousy, which is always a sign to terminate a relationship.

How can he learn not to be jealous, how can he learn not to be abusive, if he is allowed to have a relationship with you while doing these things?  This is his problem, not yours, to solve.

(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

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