Jealousy: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Plus, a seven-step program for overcoming it

Are you too jealous? It's normal to feel jealous in some situations—but what if it's all of them? When does it cross the line? I'll explain when jealousy is appropriate, when jealousy is inappropriate and when it's just plain extreme. Plus, check out my foolproof seven-step plan for taming the green-eyed monster in all of us.

Where It Comes From

Trust: It's quite possibly the most essential ingredient in a good relationship. You can have matching libidos. You can have the same goals, dreams and desires. You can both enjoy wearing space suits during sex! But without trust, it all means nothing. For some people, trust comes easily. They work on the assumption that someone will be faithful until they're proven wrong. If this is you, count yourself as one of the lucky ones. Sure, you might get a nasty surprise now and again, but at least you're giving relationships the best chance they've got to succeed. Giving someone your trust means putting your heart in their hands for safe keeping. It's a precious present and it takes guts to do it.

Then there are the rest of us: the battle-scarred. If you've been hurt before, or if you grew up with parents who cheated, trusting your partner can seem as foolish as standing in the middle of a four-lane highway and expecting not to get hit by a car. Others hover somewhere in the middle. But how do you determine what's a "healthy" level of jealousy and what's getting way out of control?

The Good

Everyone gets jealous occasionally. If you love your partner and you feel someone is threatening to take them from you by flirting, it's normal to feel a possessive pang of jealousy... one that's usually sorted out in a second with a bit of reassurance. Other times it's just that you've chosen the wrong person. Match a "normal" person up with someone who presses all the wrong buttons and just watch all that "normalcy" go right out the window as he or she become outrageously, irrationally jealous. Sometimes jealousy is warranted. If your partner has a history of playing around or if he's done something to justify your mistrust—cheated on you or has a history of cheating—you're wise to keep your eyes open.

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