Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Peter, my boyfriend is hanging out with his ex and I'm jealous. Help!

Peter Pointers is Chicago's most trusted source for gay, sexy, healthy info with an all-access pass to nationally known health and wellness experts. Go ahead, ask Peter for Pointers. Visit his page on the LifeLube site and read answers to commonly asked questions too.
Q: Dear Peter-- how do you deal with jealousy in a relationship? My boyfriend keeps hanging out with his ex, and that makes me green with rage! He says they aren't having sex, but I think it feels creepy. Any thoughts?

A: Thank you so much for your question. I imagine that the situation you are describing has been difficult for you and I applaud you for doing a bit of searching so that you can handle it in a way that promotes your own health and worth! 

It sounds like you’ve already started discussing this situation with your partner, and I commend you on taking steps to maintain your relationship – that takes courage.

There are a lot of opinions out there about jealousy in a relationship, both from the general public and from professionals. However, most everyone agrees that jealousy and lack of trust can be very damaging to a relationship.  Some people tend to err on the side of intuition and tell anyone who feels jealous that they must have reason. Some people see jealousy as a emotional problem with the one experiencing the emotion. I feel, however, that situations around jealousy or trust are a bit more complex than that. 

But first:

As you may have read, I am first and foremost a health educator.  I am not a licensed counselor, so I cannot prescribe a treatment for you to make this all better.  Also, relationship coaching is outside of my expertise.  Therefore, I have reached out to another professional in the field who DOES have that expertise.  I came across Brian Rzepczynski, LCSW, MSW, online because he had written a very fitting article titled “Squashing the Gay Relationship Killer Known as Jealousy.”  Brian has over ten years of practice under his belt of being a couples counselor, a sex therapist, and relationship coach and specializes in gay relationships and is local (practices right up the road in Aurora, IL).

Brian’s article on Jealousy is stuffed full of great information on sources of jealousy, positives and negatives of experiencing that emotion, and ways to overcome your jealous thoughts. The whole article is available here.Check it out.

Here are some highlights of his suggestions for overcoming jealous feelings:
  • Acknowledge your jealousy. Avoid minimizing or denying its existence. Recognize that you are not your jealousy--it is a part of you, one aspect of you that you can learn to manage. Admitting its power over you is the first step to conquering it.

  • Identify the cause of your jealousy. What feelings are underneath your jealousy? Work on developing more effective ways to cope with these specific emotions.

  • Keep a journal and write about your experience of jealousy and what it means to you. Ask yourself such questions as:

    • Do I trust my partner and believe what he says?

    • Am I projecting my own issues and feelings onto him and blaming him?

    • What is my jealousy really about?

    • What hurts? What's missing in my life?

    • What are the consequences of my jealousy? What do I get out of it that may be perpetuating it?

    • Are my jealous feelings rational or irrational? Are they based more on real threats or insecurities?
  • Refrain from obsessing and compulsively questioning your partner's behavior. Monitor your own thoughts and always check your motives and feelings against reality.

  • Make sure to have a life separate from your partner to reduce dependency and bring more fresh air into the relationship. Reach out to your friends, build your support system, and seek out social outlets that inspire a sense of fun and purpose.

  • As a couple: This is a great opportunity to open the channels of communication and see if any new boundaries or "relationship rules" need to be re-negotiated, created, or dropped.
The suggestions Brian makes help uncover whether the jealousy is from insecurity rather than a protective intuition. That is why I like his point about asking yourself if the feelings are rational or irrational. If you come to the conclusion that they are rational, then work on communication with your partner.  Concentrate on “I statements” so that you aren’t accusing your partner of something he may have not done.  Instead talk about how you feel and your perceptions. Give your partner an opportunity to be honest without interruption.

On the other hand, feel empowered to lay down your expectations of the relationship (not your demands – there is a subtle difference).  If the two of you aren’t able to find a common ground where you are both happy and fulfilled, it may be time to consider the option of ending that relationship.

I wish you the best of luck.

Be well,

Peter Pointers



  1. thanks for this - good advice for me too :)

  2. by Paul Rudnick
    I Was Gandhi’s Boyfriend
    APRIL 11, 2011

  3. The point is to be happy together. If one is not, then both are not.

    Together. That's the key word. I love that old cliche, Which would you rather be - Right or Happy? Choose.


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