Why do straight couples make me uncomfortable

"Jealousy attacks you like a beast"

Dania Schiftan, Valentine's Day is approaching, when many couples reassure themselves of their love.

I think these days of remembrance - birthday, wedding anniversary or Valentine's day - are a nice thing. If the expressions of love are limited to this one date, then I don't think much of it ... (pause) By the way, do you know that more flowers are sold when Valentine's Day falls on a working day? Because then the men get two bouquets of flowers - one for the wife and one for the lover, which they send to her office. But this is not possible on the weekend. And by the way, just as a secondary thought: Why should it only be the men who give gifts?

Two bouquets of flowers for two different women can lead to unpleasant mix-ups. Which brings us to the topic we want to talk to you about: jealousy.

Oh dear, I like this topic. Because jealousy is often portrayed as something negative. Wrongly. Jealousy is a feeling like any other, but it feels very unpredictable. Dealing with it is crucial. How do I react when I get jealous? Do I throw the plate at my partner's head, do I check his cell phone or do I eat it all down? Then jealousy is actually threatening. But I can also use her as a helper to ask myself: Are there any problems in the relationship or is it because of a lack of self-esteem that I feel insecure and uncomfortable? You can work with that.

"Behind jealousy is often the fear of losing relationships and losing control."

Dania Schiftan

Is jealousy part of a healthy relationship?

Jealousy occurs in some way in any relationship. But it says nothing about their quality. But when it gets out of hand, you have to look at it and tackle it.

Do you often come across this topic?

Yes. Many people suffer from their own jealousy - or that of their partner. They complain that it is endangering the relationship and reducing the quality of life. Those who are extremely jealous have usually had the experience that sooner or later they will lose the relationship. That shouldn't happen to him with his current partner. And most of those who are restricted go along with it for a while, until at some point they find: the measure is full, I don't want it to go on like this, although I understand my partner.

When is jealousy morbid?

It's difficult to pin down. The decisive factor is how much those affected suffer from it. For some, it takes very little to feel restricted. Others take tight rules for granted. That depends on your own history and previous relationship experiences.

What if the partner isn't jealous at all?

There are people who feel that the more jealous my partner is, the more he loves me. But studies show that this formula doesn't work. Behind jealousy is often the fear of loss of relationship and loss of control, which one makes palatable to the other as love. It's about something completely different, namely your own insecurities.

So jealousy has nothing to do with how the partner behaves?

When both partners are at peace with each other, each can do what they want and what they think is right without having to fear that the other will go crazy. But that is only possible if you know how to reflect on your own behavior and you don't disappoint the other's trust. Whatever type of relationship one lives in, jealousy does occur. This is the case with couples who both want to live monogamously, but also with people who live in an open relationship. After all, there are still couples who are jealous of everyone and everything. Sometimes it's almost absurd.

Can you give an example?

I have couples in my practice, for whom it is already a problem if the partner goes shopping alone. I also often come across men being jealous of a woman's best friend because they talk so much together.

So isn't it that men in heterosexual relationships are only jealous of other men and women are only jealous of other women?

No, some are jealous that the partner is enjoying life outside of the relationship.

What can be done about this excessive jealousy?

First you have to learn to recognize when such a jealousy is coming. Then it's about being able to influence it and not be overwhelmed by it. Specifically, this means: first take a deep breath, for example by going to the toilet. It's socially accepted and a good trick to get out of a situation. In the bathroom, for example, you can do a few standing push-ups at the sink. You gain distance, which can defuse the whole thing. Sometimes 30 seconds of interruption are enough.

And otherwise?

I work a lot on the body. Where is my breathing Where is my center You can make yourself aware of this by tensing your pelvic floor. People like to assume that we psychologists want to talk about everything. But sometimes I notice: there is nothing to discuss here at first. First you have to find your way back into your body and become aware of the bodily automatisms that lead to the common behavioral patterns: Thoughts circle, you get palpitations and sweats.

So jealousy also has a strong physical component?

Exactly. Jealousy really strikes you like a beast biting your neck. Many patients tell me they want to get rid of their jealousy. But that's not the goal.

Rather?

As already explained, jealousy is not only something negative, it also has positive sides. Being jealous or feeling the partner's jealousy can make me more mindful of myself and teach me some things about my relationship. It motivates me to perceive the other person's feelings. The goal is therefore not to get rid of your jealousy, but to properly manage this feeling. Jealousy resembles a panic attack, the fear center in the brain is highly alarmed. This lets us fall into the fight or flight mode that the Neanderthals already experienced when the saber-toothed tiger lurked behind him. If people are aware that this is a physical process, they have more patience with themselves and are more likely to learn to deal with their jealousy.

Is jealousy innate?

Some studies say that certain behavioral patterns are inherited, i.e. passed on from generation to generation: For example, that one is more sensitive to certain things and thus reacts with fear. On the other hand, jealousy can also have something to do with bad experiences that one has had ...

... in childhood?

For example. Siblings quickly vie for their parents' love and for at least as much attention. It is the task of the parents to take these feelings of the child seriously and to make them understand: I have heard your wish, I am there for you, and now I would like to take care of your little brother or sister. Here, too, it's about the so-called emotion regulation and how I respond to my child's jealousy: Do I reject it at this moment and make him feel that he has to try harder for my love - or do I take it really seriously and bring it how it can calm itself down? That would then be something from which it can also benefit later, because it knows how to behave in such a situation.

Children are also often jealous when it comes to their best friend or best friend.

Girls in particular regroup themselves every day: Who is who's best friend now, and why is yesterday's best friend going to play with another friend and not with me? It is important that you learn to regulate your emotions, in the sense of: I can deal with this pain. Tomorrow is a new day and then maybe everything will look different again.

Are there differences between men and women when it comes to jealousy?

This topic quickly leads to clich├ęs, for example that men express their jealousy more directly and loudly. Or that women tend to play detective, check the cell phone and always want to know where their partner is. In my practice, I have found that men are most likely to react to when their partner is physically desired. In contrast, women get annoyed more quickly when their partner finds an emotional level with another woman, i.e. talks to her about feelings or private matters. She would like to take on this part herself.

Does the cell phone make it more difficult to manage your own jealousy sensibly, as you asked before?

Yes, of course. The partners used to say goodbye and never hear from each other all day. You knew that you would see each other again in the evening. It's very different today. Thanks to the smartphone, we always know where he is, what he is doing or what is touching him when he posts something on Instagram. So he's online all the time, but doesn't respond to our SMS. That is already enough to stir up suspicion. Jealous people get even more jealous. It takes a lot more self-conquest to allow yourself and your partner the necessary distance.

Perhaps not all couples want such a distance.

For these couples there is already a partner chip that they can have mutually implanted. So that they can say to themselves: We are always connected to one another. No seriously. I think it would be better if it went back in the other direction: That means that you don't constantly follow every step of the partner online and want to know what he is doing. It takes more trust again, which, by the way, can also be learned.

Dania Schiftan, thank you for this interview.