As pointless pursuits go, romantic jealousy has to be among the top scorers. We’re talking here, of course, about the green-eyed monster that suddenly manifests when you get the idea that your significant other is eyeing another. Or being eyed by another. Not that surge of momentary hate when somebody gets what you want so you can no longer get it yourself because it’d look like you’re copying. Nor the same thing when somebody copies you but somehow manages to make it look as if was their idea.

No. This is about that gut-wrenching feeling that perhaps only monks and nuns and some other holies never have to deal with. And even they might not be exempt – it could even be the reason they became a holy person in the first place, such is the power of this fundamental response to the fear of emotional loss.

Men and women experience it differently. Women fear that their partner is being tempted by somebody who is more nubile, flirty and does ‘it’ better, while men suspect it’s probably a millionaire CEO, a fitness trainer or somebody who simply listens and understands females needs.In truth, when an individual does actually stray, it’s usually to somebody who is remarkably ordinary and sometimes even resembling their ex-to-be. But that’s a whole other story.

The problem with jealousy is that it’s insidious. Let it in to your psyche for even the briefest of moments and the next thing you know it’s taken up full time residence and seldom out of your sphere of thought. At first you question if it’s really likely that this soulmate of yours could possibly be looking at someone else in the way they looked at you in the beginning. The problem is that you’ve already thought it and so the answer is likely to be a stomach churning ‘yes’. That’s when you move into stage two, asking what they’ve been up to that day and listening for vague or evasive responses while trying to pretend it’s just conversation. This is followed by any one of several later stages, including getting into crafty question-asking mode along the lines of: “I called you today, but you didn’t answer?” or “You’re quiet today – what’s on your mind?” These, of course, can escalate to the dreaded “We need to talk,” which is one of the best relationship killers in the world. The thing is that once you’ve got into these later stages (including setting all sorts of traps) you might as well give up.

Whether you’re right or wrong, your significant other is now well on the way to becoming an ‘Ex’. Think about it. All the time you don’t discover the proof you don’t want to find it seems that your once forever-partner is cleverer than you. They obviously have cottoned on to what you’re up to and are playing cat and mouse with you. If you confront them and they deny all knowledge you try to believe them. But if it’s done tearfully, you know it’s a cover up, while if it’s angry it’s clearly an admission of guilt. You might stay together for a while longer, but that green-eyed gremlin doesn’t ever retire. At the least provocation it will start to whisper in your ear again and off you go once more. The end result, of course, is the same as if they admit it straight away. Finito. Kaput.

So, what to do? Well, once you’ve had that first momentary doubt it will at some point need to be addressed. Better sooner, rather than later. Step up to the plate straight away so that if there is something ‘going on’ you don’t let it get any steamier. But before you start, give some thought to what you will do if you discover you’re right. Will you make the break straight away? Give them a chance to make things right if they want to? Are you sensible enough and strong enough to recognise that the problem was at least partly something to do with you? Because it actually was, whether you recognise it or not at this stage, so you’ll have to be involved in any repairs.

Having got your mind sorted out, it’s time to broach the subject. There’s no easy way and all you can do is choose your moment and say something like: “I hope I’m wrong, but I keep on feeling as there’s someone else in your life. If there is, can we talk about it?” It’s impossible to predict the response, of course. They might lie in their teeth or break down in tears or anything else… but the important thing is the subject is now open. You can ask questions without snooping about and setting traps; you can start rebuilding things where you both feel that’s the way forward, though it probably will be a bit shaky at first. Or you can make a dignified exit, all the sooner to put every bit of it behind you and move on.

Whatever you choose, it will hurt but it will definitely feel better than being eaten alive with jealousy.

©Terence Watts, 2020