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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5333
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My boyfriend of 8 years has NEVER once cheated on me. He has

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My boyfriend of 8 years has NEVER once cheated on me. He has never given me any reason to believe that he would. I have severe issues with being jealous and I can't stand other women around him and being his friends. I flip out easily and am completely irrational - How do I fix this?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.



First, let me say I can imagine how confusing and distressing this situation must be for you. You know that when you step back and consider your boyfriend, who he is and how he behaves, that he is a trustworthy man. But you are plagued with worries and fears. And I imagine you are now concerned this jealousy may be a self-fulfilling prophecy that might drive him away.

At the heart of your jealousy is a worry about your own self-worth. He might decide you are not worth being faithful to. What if he decides he wants to be with that waitress instead of you?

But why are you not worried that your looking at the waiter is going to make YOU want the waiter more than your boyfriend?

Because you VALUE him, your boyfriend. You know that he is a good man, you know that he is worth your loving. That waiter is of interest to you just to look at. It's not a contradiction at all.

But when it comes to YOU, to you being valued, to you being thought of as a good woman who is worth loving, you can't quite integrate that into yourself. That waitress even though she is just someone to look at for a minute is enough to compete with your sense of what you are worth. Or better, not worth. The same with his women friends.

All these feelings of lack of worth are the key to the jealousy and the anxiety it produces in you. I'm therefore going to include at the end of my answer a technique for you to use to help when you are worried or feeling anxious or feeling jealous. It's not a cure, it's just something you can use throughout the day to help you come back to those good feelings you need to have that you talk about: how he is trustworthy and has NEVER given you cause to worry truthfully.

Working on this in psychotherapy may be of great use to you. I'm not going to focus on that. I'm only mentioning it here because it's so useful to work on the root issues. This would be with a psychotherapist who works in a psychodynamic orientation and is experienced with childhood abuse and dysfunction. Okay?


I want to focus instead on you helping yourself to get to those mindfulness moments. In fact, do an internet search on mindfulness meditation and begin to make this a regular part of your day. Try using some self help books to help you with it since you've already said you read self help books. Don't be afraid of taking positive steps like these. You ARE worth it.

So let me recommend some that I think are among the best and that are readily available in libraries, stores, and online:

If This is Love, Why Do I Feel So Insecure? by Hindy, Schwarz, and Brodsky. They discuss their idea about "anxious romantic attachment" which is how they describe insecurity in relationships.

Life Without Jealousy: A Practical Guide. by Lynda Bevan. Good exercises here.

The Courage to Trust by Cynthia Wall. Gives a good understanding about what in your personality is involved in this dynamic of not being able to trust.

Okay. I wish you the very best!

Now, I want to give you a tool to use for when the jealousy is overwhelming or you have anxiety and worry. Here are instructions on a therapeutic protocol called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). It's really quite easy to do almost anywhere. My patients suffering from anxiety, when I teach them PMR at first are amazed how simple it is and that it is a psychological protocol. It was first used in the 1920s! Since then, of course, it has been refined and many studies have been done showing its effectiveness. You will practice PMR at first when you don't wake up with an attack so that you will be familiar with it. I want you to practice the PMR at least 5-6 times before feeling acute anxiety. Why? Because when you're in the throes of anxiety, you will only remember to do something you are very familiar with it. So practicing 5-6 times is really a minimum.

I want to stress the importance of breathing as well. Part of the physiology of what is happening to you in anxiety states is that your breathing is getting shallower. This reduces the oxygen in your blood to your brain. That increases the anxiety reaction, which strengthens the anxiety and you are in a vicious cycle! Not good. So breathing is the primary tool. I have found in my practice that learning breathing techniques can be helpful. But some of my patients are not interested in learning more than one thing at the beginning, so I have found that just reminding you to BREATHE deeply at the same time you are doing PMR is almost as good. If you are willing to take a yoga class and learn breathing techniques, that's the best. But, breathing deeply with your PMR will help.

So, we're ready for learning PMR. I want you to print my instructions below my signature and have a copy in each of the rooms of your home where you may be when you have an attack. And again, you need to practice this easy technique at least 5-6 times as soon as you can. It needs to become as natural to you as breathing. Ah, remember breathing?

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. You can continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark


INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. After finding a quiet place and several free minutes to practice progressive muscle relaxation, sit or lie down and make yourself comfortable.
  2. Begin by tensing all the muscles in your face. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tightly as possible, clench your teeth, even move your ears up if you can. Hold this for the count of eight as you inhale.
  3. Now exhale and relax completely. Let your face go completely lax, as though you were sleeping. Feel the tension seep from your facial muscles, and enjoy the feeling.
  4. Next, completely tense your neck and shoulders, again inhaling and counting to eight. Then exhale and relax.
  5. Continue down your body, repeating the procedure with the following muscle groups:
    • chest
    • abdomen
    • entire right arm
    • right forearm and hand (making a fist)
    • right hand
    • entire left arm
    • left forearm and hand (again, making a fist)
    • left hand
    • buttocks
    • entire right leg
    • lower right leg and foot
    • right foot
    • entire left leg
    • lower left leg and foot
    • left foot
  6. for the shortened version, which includes just four main muscle groups:
    • face
    • neck, shoulders and arms
    • abdomen and chest
    • buttocks, legs and feet

Quickly focusing on each group one after the other, with practice you can relax your body like ‘liquid relaxation’ poured on your head and it flowed down and completely covered you. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to quickly de-stress any time.

What You Need:

  • A comfortable place.
  • Some privacy.
  • A few minutes.

Again:

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. You can continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark