Everyone gets a little jealous now and then. Instead of letting it make you crazy, get to the bottom of your feelings. In these scenarios, it’s more likely that his “bad behavior” is in your head.
When he looks at random women. Researchers recently found that men are more likely than women to find someone they’ve never met before attractive. But just because your guy is biologically primed to look doesn’t mean he’s looking to cheat. “Jealousy is driven by fear of losing your partner, or fear you’re not good enough,” says Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD, author of the upcoming book Insecure in Love. “What counts is having a great sex life and complementing each other.”
Mine, All Mine
When another woman looks at him…and he likes it.”Be like, ‘That’s right, he’s mine,’ and be proud!” suggests Amber Madison, a sex educator and therapist in New York City. This is about validation—your guy wants to feel sexy, even though he’s not going to act on a stranger’s gaze. “We have this idea that men can’t control themselves, but I’ve found that they’re more interested in a relationship than having sex,” says Madison, who interviewed more than 1,000 men for her book. Translation: He might enjoy the attention, but he’s happy to be with you.
When he wants to hang with the guys. “People need to feel autonomous, even in a relationship,” says Dr. Becker-Phelps. “You also want a sense of closeness with your partner.” If you feel rejected when he goes out with the guys, remind yourself that he isn’t choosing his friends over you, and think about all the ways he shows he cares. It’s also smart to shake those man-movie scenes out of your head—your husband’s “boys’ night” will be nothing like The Hangover.
When you find out he has a photo of his ex. Try not to panic. Keeping a piece of history tucked away in a shoebox isn’t the same as wishing he were living a different life…with her. Still, you shouldn’t stay silent about feeling frazzled. “The worst thing is not to resolve the issue immediately,” says Kavita Jhaveri-Patel, a love coach based in New York City. “If a photo bothers you, say, ‘I saw this picture and it triggered me. It makes me wonder why you have it.’” It’s possible he forgot he kept it!
When you work out together and he loses 10 pounds in a month…and you lose zip. Sad, but true: A 2013 study found that overweight women have to exercise about 20 times more to get the same results as men. But his improved body is beneficial for both of you. “The best thing for your relationship is to have a partner who feels good about himself,” says Madison. “Guys who cheat don’t have high self-esteem—they’re sneaking around to make themselves feel better.”
When a female friend writes a flirty-sounding message on his Facebook page. “That’s all about the voice you attach to it,” points out Madison. The fix: “Think about when you’ve posted on a guy friend’s page with zero bad intentions,” she says. Then, ask yourself why you feel threatened. Is this about you finding out info on social media rather than your spouse? If so, ask your husband to let you know about any social events and new pals to eliminate surprises. If it’s a photo with a female friend that’s putting you in a tizzy, remember—if it’s online, he’s not hiding anything.
A Cut Above
When he tells you about a compliment from his female hairdresser. This is his subtle way of saying he craves more affection. “It’s like a dog that brings a dead bird to the doorstep to say, ‘Look what I did,’” explains Madison. “If he’s reporting compliments he’s getting from other women, he wants to feel more appreciated by you.” To start, instead of grilling him about his hairdresser’s appearance and marital status, tell him that his new cut makes him look hot!
When he gets lunch with his “work wife.” You’ve built her up as the sexiest woman alive, but have you met her? “It helps to shake her hand and look her in the eye,” says Jhaveri-Patel. “When we have more information, we’re less likely to let fear take over.” Also, consider if you have a crush on someone at your office. That trigger for jealousy is called projective identification, says Fran Praver, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of The New Science of Love
On the Job
When he won’t stop talking about his new promotion.Of course you want him to feel fulfilled at work. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer silently. A few days after he first shares his good news, “approach him with something like, ‘This promotion is a great thing. But I’m struggling because it highlights how I’m not getting where I want to be,’” recommends Dr. Becker-Phelps. Talk about how to make both of your goals a reality.
When he tells you about how cool his friend’s girlfriend/wife is. A lot of this could be your guy’s personality. “If he’s naturally a complimentary person, then this isn’t out of character and you have nothing to worry about,” says Madison. “Positive comments aren’t intended to make you feel bad. He can just be happy for his friend.” If he isn’t usually so flattering, maybe his friend’s new partner is simply a wonderful person worth getting to know. In fact, your guy might be talking her up because he wants the two of you to become friends so you can double date!