There are so many ways to show someone you care about them: hugs, words of kindness, a small present, a Good Morning note or text, buying flowers, or even a simple “Love Ya!”
But there is something that still seems to be up for debate: jealousy.
That feeling you get when your partner hangs out with another individual and you think there is “something going on.” That one of the two of them is flirting with one another, or is too “touchy” or “hands on.” Maybe it’s not even a flirting thing. Maybe it’s that you think your partner is spending too much time away from you, and you want that time back.
The argument is that when a partner becomes jealous, it proves that your partner cares about you because they’re just watching out for all of the other people who are trying to steal you away from your partner. Or when you get jealous, maybe it’s just trying to show how much you love spending time with one another. You miss all the times you had together, you care about your partner too much to be away from them, and to have your partner be with other people for long periods of time just doesn't feel right. It’s ok to be like that, right?
Jealousy is a complex emotion, but on most occasions it shows up when we either (1) want something we don't have, or (2) see something we’re not ok with.
- “I don’t like the way she looks at you. You need to stop hanging out with her.”
- “How many times have you texted him today? I don't want you texting him anymore”
- “You’re spending a lot of time with your friends. A lot of time we could be spending together. Cancel your plans this weekend, we're doing our own thing.”
In reality, jealousy is not—in any way, shape, or form—healthy. If you think about jealousy as an emotion that comes up when we see something we’re not ok with, you lack trust in your partner and in your relationship (which is why you're jealous). You trusted your partner to act a certain way—and for everyone else to act a certain way—and they aren’t acting that way. In a perfect world, everyone would just "get it": My partner should magically know how much time I want to spend with them and how much time I don't want to spend with them. Also, we want everyone else to understand: “My partner is mine, so everyone else back off.”
Your partner is not an object to be owned, your partner is a human being: an individual capable of making choices, having emotions, and socializing. When you get into a dating relationship, if you are not ok with the way your partner is talking to someone else, or you aren’t ok with the way other people are treating your partner (even though it looks like your partner is loving the attention), that’s not necessarily your partner’s problem, it might be yours.
If you find yourself becoming jealous, talk to your partner about it. Form a trusting relationship between one another. If you find yourself having a hard time trusting your partner or trusting others with your partner, maybe you aren’t ready for a relationship. And that’s ok! Talk to a trusted adult or a mentor about why you might have trust issues or why you feel so jealous.
There is only one person you have control over, and that is yourself. To try and control another person's actions and calling it "being caring"—just because you are together—is neither loving nor caring. It’s pure control and manipulation, and 100% unhealthy.