PQ 16.10 — How can I help support a partner who is feeling jealous or passed over?
It can be an incredibly difficult task to support a person who is feeling jealous or passed over — especially if our actions are part of the reason why they feel that way.
The exact way I handle this situation depends on a number of factors:
- What exactly happened
- Why the incident was difficult or hurtful
- What my partner says they need from me
Unfortunately, there’s no one fix that will work in every scenario. And I do find that I usually need my partner’s help in figuring out how I can be helpful. Because a lot of being helpful hinges upon exactly what my partner needs from me. And that’s something that they’re more likely to be able to understand than I am. Here’s a post that outlines that process of sorting out why a jealousy event occurred and how to deal with it productively.
I will say that while my partner is figuring out why they felt jealous or passed over and what (if anything) they need from me to address it, I have another go-to process that I follow, the one I outlined in another piece, Distressed by Another’s Jealousy: How to Deal with Guilt from Hurting a Partner:
- Repair any rifts in secure attachment. This usually means that I show them extra affection, and I make sure to reconnect with them. (For optimal effect, I make sure to do so using their preferred love language).
- Refrain from getting defensive about my own behavior. Even though it might well be true that I’ve done nothing wrong, it’s often very invalidating and hurtful to jump to my own defense without first properly honoring the other person’s pain.
- Ask what they need from me. I find that open-ended questions work better. Questions like “What can I do to help you through this?” often yield better answers than yes or no questions like “Do you need anything from me?” or “Is there anything I can do?”
- Be patient if they don’t know what they need right away. It can take some time to sort out why a jealousy event occurred and if they want you to do anything different (or change the relationship agreement materially/logistically some way). I’ve found great success with letting my partner know that they can take their time and telling them, “If you think of something, I’m here for you.”
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.