My boyfriend is friends with his ex. I know nothing is going on between them, but I still secretly feel really jealous. I hate it and don’t want to feel this way. What do I do?

by Simone Kornfeld

Boiling hot, icky sticky, slimy green, scum bucket jealousy. Disgust that burns your gums and envy that churns your stomach with each new triggering thought. Any way you cut it, jealousy is the pits. Of course you wouldn't want to feel it ever again. Or would you? Presumably your guy has reassured you that he has no sexy feelings left for his ex: they broke up for good reason, he is totally in love with you and would never in a million want his old relationship back. Logic tells you this is true, yet still you can’t stop obsessing and perhaps even torturing yourself by envisioning them doing the nasty. You compare yourself to her, nitpick your differences and always make sure you come out on top.

Whenever you find yourself slopping around in such negative stuff it’s interesting to ask how those feelings might actually be benefiting you? Your dude’s ex is not an actual threat, yet you continue to make her one in your mind. Interesting information. Perhaps these thoughts are providing a hidden payoff you’re not totally conscious of? For example, being jealous and creating suspicion in the relationship may protect you from genuine commitment. By holding yourself at arms distance, you don’t have to risk being truly vulnerable. Your jealous feelings may actually be serving to provide a sense of inner safety. Or maybe you like the attention you get from him when you’re all green with envy, you get to be the victim so he has to beg and bribe you to be his sweety-pie instead of his sourpuss. Or it could be that all those intensely passionate feelings are really a bit of a turn on. The emotion of jealousy can surely get the juices boiling. Perhaps underneath the discomfort is a repressed desire to explore some less conventional sexual fantasies?

We suggest doing some inner work as opposed to discussing your feelings with your boyfriend. Unfortunately many people make the mistake of trying to coerce and force their partners into not having contact with their exes, thinking this will solve the problem. But not only is this a slippery slope of control and manipulation, it’s a smokescreen for the deeper issue. Take some time to get quiet and listen to what may be going on underneath the surface of your envy and why you might be choosing to stew in it. With clarity you’ll be able to stop “using” jealousy to provide you with safety, victimhood, sexual desire or whatever else is arising. Once you've sensed what you really want you can go about getting those needs met in a more direct, less discomfiting way.