In romantic relationships it is quite natural for partners to be mildly possessive about each other and jealous of other objects of attention. In fact, taken in small doses jealousy helps partners to appreciate each other and not to take the other person for granted. However, when jealous reactions get out of proportion, it may not only ruin the relationship but also the person in the grip of such negative feelings.
One of the basic ways that feelings of jealousy can damage a relationship is to erode the feeling of mutual trust. If you are feeling jealous of anyone your partner is meeting through the day or hanging out after work, it signals that you don’t really trust your partner to be faithful to you. Goaded by jealousy, you may snoop and spy on her partner or harangue him/her about their whereabouts. Very soon this atmosphere of suspicion and distrust will begin to eat away at your relationship since no relationship can continue when mutual faith and love are lacking.
TIP: Download the guide to making up with your partner
Another way that your jealous nature may be damaging your relationship is when you constantly belittle your partner’s positive traits and achievements. If he/she is a great cook, sings well, plays a sport competently or has personal charm, it is reason for you to feel proud; however when assailed by jealously these very accomplishments would seem reason for you to complain and you may end up belittling them or actually criticizing them. Thus a jealous husband would dismiss a wife’s painstakingly maintained garden or a jealous wife would belittle her husband’s popularity at the workplace. If this kind of negative attitude towards a partner and his/her actions goes on for long, it is only a matter of time before he/she leaves to seek validation and appreciation elsewhere.
The above point makes it abundantly clear that feelings of jealousy have little to do with the perceived faults of other person and everything to do with the person experiencing them. Thus it is because of your own feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that you are unable to appreciate your partner or are constant prey to the fear that he/she may be cheating on you. Your jealousy thus signals a deep lack of self-confidence and self-worth, which in the end will make come off needy and even more unattractive to your partner, thus increasing the chances of a break-up.
However the most significant way that jealousy lead to ruin of a relationship is to quickly transmute into possessiveness. When you begin to feel certain that everyone your partner meets through the day is smarter, wittier, better-looking, and more fun than you -- and therefore a threat to steal away your beloved -- you feel more and more inclined him or her on a short leash. You find yourself dictating who your partner should meet, when, where and for how long. This kind of possessive behavior on your partner can really make your partner feel caged since no one wants to live like a slave. Very soon he/she will begin to feel overwhelmed by your constant questioning and instructions and start to chafe against the restrictions imposed by you. Every healthy relationship is based on mutual freedom and acceptance and when you begin to restrict this for your partner – no matter what the motivation – you can be sure that he/she will want to move to away.
One of the myths about possessiveness is that is a sign of true affection and commitment – you feel possessive about your partner because you feel strongly about the relationship and wish to make it work at all costs. Nothing could be farther from the truth though since possessiveness is less about love and more about an unhealthy need for control. Indeed even though you may begin with feeling jealous about your partner’s other admirers, real or perceived, you may soon feel the need to control every other aspect of your partner’s life that doesn’t include you - time spent with friends, family, or pursuing solitary hobbies and interests. Thus you may end up constantly throwing questions at your partner, like “Where were you? Why were you talking to him? Who sent you that text message? You heard from that person on Facebook again? No one wants to be dictated by other person what to wear, what to eat, how to walk and talk since all this makes for a toxic atmosphere which can never sustain a healthy relationship.
Curiously enough an over-possessive nature can attributed to either of two directly opposite impulses. Sometimes when a person is intrinsically insecure, has low self-worth or is too emotionally dependent on a relationship, he or she tends to think of the partner as their “property”. So if they perceive their partners getting near to others, they take it as a violation of their rights to their partners and become insanely jealous. At the other extreme, a controlling behavior in a relationship is a sign of megalomania, the consequence of a massive ego which doesn't have regard for the feelings and freedom of other person and is thus unable to give affection, validation and freedom in a relationship.
Whatever the source, both jealousy and over possessiveness are all about trying to restrict, manipulate, and monitor another person’s behavior and choices. A healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship on the other hand needs the air of freedom and acceptance to help each other grow and thrive as partners – something which is not possible if you don’t let go of your feelings of jealousy and possessiveness.