A lot of my clients are men and women who come to me for help in trying to cope with the green-eyed monster, jealousy. Intense fear, anxiety, and other troubling feelings take hold as they suspect that their partner is cheating on them, compelling them to do things like check their partner’s phone, hack into their email account, and constantly “check up” on them. These behaviors bother the other person to the point of breakup, or cause serious and material damage to the relationships that do survive. Making things even worse, if their significant other is actually cheating, they often find themselves choosing another cheater in their next relationship!
I had a brush with this myself when a former boyfriend hacked into my email and appeared to be deleting messages from other friends inviting me to social events. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but when I did, I changed all my computer passwords, had new locks installed in my home, and called the police (who weren’t able to do anything, by the way). Needless to say, that relationship ended abruptly. When I confronted the boyfriend, he apologized profusely and admitted he felt compelled to do it out of his fear that I was cheating.
Having worked with both the victims and the perpetrators of these “investigative” activities, I understand the reasons behind it much better. Constantly doubting and checking up on someone else has elements of obsessive-compulsive behavior, and it comes from a place of deep pain. For this reason, it’s not as easy to resolve as you might think. Nearly all my clients with this problem have either been cheated on or been cheaters themselves. Frequently it’s both.
Truth is, the root of their pain is rarely about actually being cheated on—that’s just a symptom. The core issues include believing they are “less than,” not getting their needs met, and frequently feeling abandoned. Even if you could get yourself to stop checking your significant other’s phone, you would still need to get to the deeper causes of the behavior and work on healing your inner pain.
Whether you actually act it out on not, if you find yourself feeling compelled to check phones, look at emails, and/or stalk your partner, your relationship and all the ones that come after it are in serious trouble without some professional help.
How do you know the difference between obsessive checking and an intuitive feeling that your partner is actually cheating?
It can be difficult, to say the least, telling the difference between a compulsive urge and an intuition. It helps, though, if you stay in touch with your emotions and motivations. As I have said before, real, intuitive messages tend to feel more neutral, like a quiet voice in your head, a picture in your mind, or a gut feeling that something is off. An intuition to look at your partner’s phone is generally not normal behavior for you, not premeditated, and most of all, not something you feel like doing every 10 minutes! A number of clients who caught their partner cheating have told me that for “some reason,” they picked up the other person’s phone when it rang, having never done that before, and discovered the infidelity.
When our less rational, more obsessive side is involved, we are usually feeling unsettled, scared, or angry. Our thinking is directed to one thing, and one thing only—getting to the information about our partner that we absolutely MUST have.
Ultimately, if a man is actually cheating, he will always get caught eventually. Guys—with the possible exception of Don Draper from Mad Men—are just not that good at covering their tracks! Women are more careful, so checking their phone doesn’t usually provide any clues. The point is, since cheating will become evident at one point or another, there’s no need to check anyone’s phone on a regular basis.
If obsessive worry and/or jealousy regarding your partner is a common issue for you, it’s time to take a deeper look and work to heal the inner wound fueling that obsession. Start by asking yourself a couple key questions:
“Am I getting what I need from this relationship?”
If not, maybe you need to look at that. Ironically, people who really are getting their needs met often miss obvious cheating because they are happy. But if you are NOT happy, take a look inside yourself, apart from your relationship, to find out why.
“Do I have hurts from the past I haven’t dealt with?”
I can already tell you the answer is “yes,” because we all do. But if buried pain is causing you to feel excessively anxious and jealous, and to obsessively scrutinize your mate’s social contacts, you must resolve these old wounds if you ever want to create a happy, loving, and satisfying relationship with a good match.
Having said all this, sometimes it’s the sad truth that our significant other is really cheating, seemingly justifying our constant anxiety. Trust me on this, though…if your partner is cheating, it will never stay a secret for very long, so you don’t need to waste energy worrying about it. Shift your focus instead to making yourself happy. Then no matter what happens in life or with others, you’ll be able to handle it, and HANDLE IT WELL.
Jill Thomas CHT
Soul Connect Hypnotherapy