Dear Dr. Love,I am currently in a relationship with a woman that I care very much about. However we are having trouble due to what some might view as my jealous tendancies. I was in a three year relationship prior to this one in which I was very sure of myself and my relationship. However that confidence was ultimatly unwarrented, for the relationship was marred by infedelity and finally her leaving me for a friend of mine.This relationship is the first one since then that I have really allowed myself to really care for the person I’m with and let down my guard. I love the girl I’m with now but I fear that my recent behavior has pushed her away. On several occassions I have gotten upset, emotional more so than angry, because we have been in social situations where I have interpreted her interaction with other men to be flirting as well as too eccessive. I feel as though she doesn’t wan’t to spend time with me. She says, ‘I come with you and I leave with you’so that should be my reassurance. However I can not help feeling unwanted when she spends more time with these other guys.Once again, I ‘m sure that it is completely innocent but I can not stop this feeling that I get inside. I’ve talked to her about how I feel but she defends her actions and says that this is something that I have to deal with on my own, and that she can not reassure me enough. She wanted me to go talk to someone about why I get so upset. I love her very much and want this to work. can you help? Please.Jealous Tendencies
You have been deeply wounded by your last relationship and it is understandable that you are afraid to be dropped again. I also see that you are worried that your jealousy may drive your girlfriend away.In reading your letter, it sounds as though you think you are crazy for feeling jealous. Are you aware that your letter sounds like you are the only one with the problem here? You speak of your jealous tendencies, your wrong feelings and your unwarranted reactions. Why are you so willing to pound on yourself and to overlook your girlfriend’s role in this situation? Did it ever occur to you that your feelings are on target? The way she is behaving would induce jealous feelings in many people. So, how come you’re so willing to write off your own feelings and put all the blame on yourself?Keep in mind that when a person is so willing to blame himself, it invites his lover to blame him as well. And, this is exactly what’s happening in your relationship. Your girlfriend has all but told you that you have no right to feel upset about her behavior and that you are the one who needs help. What is wrong with this picture is simply this: Feelings are never wrong or right, they simply are. Which means that your girlfriend cannot say that you have no right to your feelings. Instead, she needs to understand and accept all your feelings, including your feeling uncomfortable about her flirting and ignoring you at parties.It hardly matters that your feelings are all the stronger because of a past hurt. These are your feelings and you, like all of us, came to this relationship with a history that needs to be honored. If anything, she should be even more considerate of your feelings in this sensitive area, not less so.So, the real issue for me is, why isn’t your girlfriend more responsive to you? Doesn’t it concern you that she is so callus when it comes to your pain? (This is your problem, so fix it. I come with you, I leave with you. ) It almost feels like you are being tormented by her flirting and then told to deal with it. This being said, I don’t think you should talk yourself out of your feelings. You don’t like her behavior and if she wants a relationship with you, she needs to, at least, try to understand how her behavior makes you feel. (I ‘m not even speaking about pressing her to change her flirtatious actions. Simple understanding is good enough as a first step. )Which leads me to the next point. I see a pattern emerging in your relationships: You trust and ultimately get dropped. You trusted your last lover and she betrayed you. Now, you’re dating a woman who flirts with other men under your nose. No wonder you’re worried about being dumped again! The big question is: Why are you drawn to women who are so uncaring of your feelings and threaten your sense of trust? You need to do some soul searching here and figure out why these types of women appeal to you. Hint: Usually, when people choose girlfriends that dump them or make them afraid to be dumped, they are trying to heal an old abandonment scar from childhood. It would be helpful for you to examine this issue, or else I ‘m afraid you are always going to be drawn to women that break your heart.So, my advice: On an individual level, work on figuring out what we discussed above. And, as for dealing with your girlfriend, realize that she is becoming defensive with you because: 1) she is feeling blamed; and 2) she is afraid that you are trying to control her behavior. So, in dealing with her, you might say: ‘I ‘m not saying that you are doing anything wrong and I ‘m not trying to make you change your partying style, I just need you to understand how I experience your behavior.’ If she can’t understand your feelings, it would be good to do some couples counseling aimed at helping your girlfriend develop the skill of ‘partial identification’ for your feelings. Lots of luck to you. You deserve a lover that cares for your feelings as much as you care for hers. Let’s hope your friend can grow into that type of lover.