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5-MINUTE THERAPIST ‘I get hysterical with jealousy when he goes out without me’

mind-worriesTHE PROBLEM  Hello, Christine. My name is Zanna.   A couple of my previous relationships broke up because I’m so possessive. However, it’s a more serious problem with my new boyfriend, Ian. He’s wonderful. We’re really in love, and plan to get married. But I get terribly miserable when he goes out with his friends on Friday evenings. I worry that he’ll meet someone else, and because I’m anxious I keep texting him for reassurance. By the time he gets back I’m often hysterical. He’s put up with this so far, but I’m worried that I’ll drive him away.  

Christine:  Why do you think you’re so anxious?

Zanna: I suppose because I really love him and don’t want to lose him.

Christine: It’s natural when we’re in love to be a bit jealous and possessive. And it’s natural too to worry that such a great relationship might end.

Zanna:  I suppose that’s it. I want to be sure that he won’t ever leave me.

Christine: You want to know – absolutely – that your relationship will last?

Zanna: Yes. That’s exactly it.

Christine: Has it occurred to you that life doesn’t offer cast-iron guarantees?

Zanna: Please don’t say that.

Christine:  Would you prefer if I promised you that nothing bad will ever happen, and that you and Ian will remain together into old age – even though I can’t possibly know this for certain?

Zanna: Well, no.

Christine: Zanna, none of us, not even if we’re in the most marvellous relationship in the world, can guarantee an endlessly happy outcome. People get ill. They die. They have  accidents. And sometimes, they do go off with other partners.

Zanna: That’s so sad.

Christine:  I know. But it’s the truth. However, and this is important, we can look at likely outcomes. Is Ian someone who eyes up other women and who might secretly go on the pull when he’s out with his mates?

Zanna:  No. He’s devoted to me. And he’s a steady sort of person. The sort of person people can trust.

Christine: So is there a strong likelihood that the two of you will stay together and be happy.

Zanna: Yes, I think so …

Christine: It would help you to focus on that likelihood, rather than stress yourself out with stuff that is impossible to predict. How about writing a list of all the good things about this relationship?

Zanna: OK. How will that help?

Christine: Well you could keep the list with you at all times, and read it when you feel distressed. What it will provide is a reminder of Ian’s love and of the strength of your  relationship.

Zanna: That would help, because I seem to lose sight of all of that on Friday nights.

Christine: What is it about him going out that you hate?  

Zanna: I kind of feel that I don’t matter to him.

Christine: But the rest of the time, do you feel that you ‘matter’?

Zanna: Absolutely.

Christine: Did Ian go out with his mates every Friday before he met you?

Zanna: Yes. And I do understand that it’s a relaxation for him. He works hard at his job and does very long hours, so I think it’s a good way for him to wind down. He’s known these guys since uni.

Christine: So, is he being unreasonable in wanting to have Friday nights with his mates?

Zanna:  Not at all.

Christine:  What do you do on Fridays?

Zanna: Well, nothing much. I sometimes work late, and then I go home. I always think I’ll do some housework and wash my hair and enjoy a DVD, but then I start worrying.

Christine:  How about re-thinking Fridays? How about turning Friday into a special night of the week for you?

Zanna:  Like what?

Christine: What about seeing your own pals?

Zanna:  They’re busy. My best friend is in a long-distance relationship so she’s always travelling on Friday evenings. My other two close mates are married and doing family stuff.

Christine: What about an activity that you’d really like to do, but you don’t have time for because you’re with Ian most of the time?

Zanna: Actually, I do have a friend who belongs to a running club and she does that on Fridays. I’d like to lose some weight so perhaps I should go running too?

Christine: Would you enjoy that?

Zanna: Yes. I used to run. I’d like to feel fitter again.

Christine: Does Ian want you to be at home feeling miserable and just waiting for him?

Zanna: No, he’ll be much happier if I’m doing something nice for me.

Christine: Sounds like a win-win situation then. How much will you text him on Fridays if you go running?

Zanna: Much less, I suppose.

Christine: That’ll be good. How much do you text him at present?

Zanna:  I’m embarrassed to say exactly. But it’s loads. And it doesn’t even help really. I worry that he’s getting fed up with me texting.

Christine: How about agreeing with him that you’ll only text each other at the beginning of the evening and then stop?

Zanna: That will feel scary.

Christine:  Actually, I’m not sure that it will. You keep checking up on him for reassurance, but the reassurance doesn’t seem to last long. All that checking seems to be making you more nervous, rather than less. I suggest you both have a good evening and save talking about it till you both get home. Wouldn’t that be better than what is happening now?

Zanna: I suppose it would.

Christine:  Emotions like jealousy are complex: too complex to sort out totally in five minutes. But hopefully we’ve made a start. Can I also suggest that you read a really helpful book to back up what we’ve discussed? It’s Overcoming Jealousy by Professor Windy Dryden, published by Sheldon (£5.99 from Amazon).

Zanna: I’ll order it from Amazon tonight!

christine_webber-33Christine Webber is a former TV news presenter. Since 1995, she has been an award-winning health writer. She is also a psychotherapist with a practice in Harley Street. She holds diplomas in integrative psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. And she also has numerous coaching qualifications.  Christine is the author of 12 self-help and therapy books.  Find out more at

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