Jealousy is virtually unavoidable in a relationship. You can feel it from the first moment you set eyes on your partner.
You want them all to yourself, and you’re desperately afraid that someone else will come along and steal their affection. It doesn’t go away either. You can feel jealous years into a relationship, even after marriage.
So why do men get jealous when they’re in a relationship? The green-eyed monster can rear its ugly head at any time, whenever we feel scared, insecure, or lonely.
It’s rarely productive and pushes your partners further away. Jealousy is a toxic emotion, but if you can understand its root causes, you stand a chance at counteracting it and dealing with those feelings in a productive way.
Why Do Men Get Jealous?
Some say it’s just in their nature that men are naturally territorial and evolution favored men who would protect their mate from potential suitors.
It’s a view that gives men too little credit and absolves them of responsibility for their feelings.
Emotions better explain why men get jealous of their girlfriends or wives than evolution. These are some of the common reasons for men’s jealous nature.
This is probably the biggest reason why guys get jealous in a relationship, they’re too young or inexperienced to understand how a relationship should operate.
Boys are taught that getting a girlfriend is important for their social status, but no one tells them what they’re supposed to do once they have one.
The whole goal of the relationship becomes to hold onto her and keep her away from any man that could steal her.
Unfortunately, some men never grow out of this phase. They never learn that a relationship is built on trust and that they can’t assume it will fall apart if their girlfriend or wife starts talking to another man.
Teaching boys from an early age that a romance involves more than possessing a woman would go a long way in preventing these relationship issues later in life.
A man that doesn’t have a lot of respect for himself is more likely to lash out when he feels like his romantic relationship is threatened.
Unchecked insecurity is absolutely toxic for a relationship and leads to trust issues. When you’re worried that you’re not good enough for your partner, the fear that somewhere better will come along can be overwhelming.
Every interaction your partner has with the opposite sex makes you speculate as to how this potential rival might be superior.
Jealousy is also a key component of narcissistic relationships. Narcissists aren’t as concerned about their partner’s happiness as they are with holding onto a supply source.
Narcissistic supply is the praise, admiration, and feelings of power that narcissists need to compensate for their low self-worth.
It’s Their Brain Chemistry
Contrary to popular belief, testosterone is not a predictor of jealousy. While men are often portrayed as the more jealous sex, there isn’t as large of a gender difference as popular culture would have us think.
Women can be just as jealous, but their expression of jealousy is less overt.
Some real-world examples mirror Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” video involving vandalism and violence, but it’s most often men that get physical when they’re jealous.
That being said, brain chemistry is outsized in how jealous a person becomes.
However, it’s oxytocin, the hormone associated with trust, love, and empathy that’s involved.
People with higher levels of oxytocin are more likely to feel secure in their relationship and less prone to jealous feelings.
His Past Behavior
No one is more distrustful and more worried about being cheated on than a cheater.
Everyone believes that other people’s thought processes and emotions are similar to their own, so if your boyfriend or husband is guilty of infidelity, he’s more likely to think you’re only a few steps away from doing the same.
The reasons for cheating are myriad, but if your boyfriend or husband is feeling this level of jealousy, their cheating was probably motivated by poor self-esteem.
Your partner could also easily accuse you of cheating because they hope to justify their actions. He can minimize his indiscretions if he can find evidence that you might stray.
Your Past Behavior
Jealous feelings usually say more about the person experiencing those feelings than it does about the object of the feelings.
That’s not always the case though; if you’ve been unfaithful in the past, your boyfriend might be more vigilant for signs that it’ll happen again.
For the relationship to last, he must heal those wounds and regain his trust in you. Breaking up is probably best if he can’t do that and always waits for the other shoe to drop.
They Fear Losing You
So far jealousy has been treated as a genuinely destructive trait and, in most cases, it is.
A bit of jealousy can be flattering, though, indicating that your partner values you and doesn’t want to lose you. The behaviors that arise from those feelings differentiate it from more malicious forms of jealousy.
The more benign type of jealousy inspires him to be a better partner, take notice of the relationship’s weak points, and work to improve them.
These little hints of jealousy don’t overwhelm him or destroy his confidence but are reminders that there’s something very special at stake.
Why Do Guys Get Jealous When You Talk to Other Guys?
When you start talking to another man, your boyfriend or husband might think this is a sign that you’re interested in this man.
Obviously, there’s a big difference between talking to someone and flirting with them, but those subtle cues can go unnoticed when your partner’s mind is clouded by jealousy.
So what exactly is he thinking when you’re chatting up another man?
He’s Feeling Insecure
Insecurity is the most dependable source of jealousy, and when you start talking to other guys, a whole host of scenarios pop into his head.
Do you think this guy’s more attractive? Is he more interesting than me? Does he have a lot of money? What’s he got that I don’t?
Fortunately, this jealousy is fairly easy to nip in the bud. Communication is key to eliminating trust issues and your boyfriend needs to understand what attracted you to him and why you want to be in this relationship.
He should discuss these things with you too – communication is a two-way street. As you get more comfortable in the relationship, these insecurities should diminish with time.
He’s Worried About You
Your boyfriend or husband feels jealous when you talk to another man because he sees them as a potential rival.
Usually, these suspicions are unfounded; you might even say you are uninterested in this guy. That doesn’t mean he’s not interested in you though.
Men are far more likely to be sexually attracted to their female friends than their female friends are to them.
These men see friendships as a waiting game, biding their time until an opportunity arises and they can make their move. Women who want to keep the friendship platonic might not notice their male friend’s attraction to them or will consciously ignore it to maintain harmony in the relationship.
Her jealous boyfriend or husband won’t turn a blind eye to it and might call out inappropriate behavior.
He’s Got Commitment Issues
Men with commitment issues will come on strong at the beginning of a relationship, hoping to swoop you off your feet but will cool down as things get more serious.
He’s unsure if he’s ready for the next step, which might be moving in together, getting married, or just talking about your future plans.
He knows that a lack of commitment could result in you leaving him, but he can’t handle the emotional investment.
If you then start talking to other guys, he thinks his days with you are numbered.
This may not be true, but the seed of doubt is planted and he knows that he needs to decide.
Some women may want to use this strategy of talking to other men to coax an answer out of their commit-phonic boyfriends.
Some men don’t want you to have a life they can’t control.
They don’t want you speaking to anyone who could be a potential rival. Still, they’re also trying to isolate you from friends and family members that might call attention to their abusive behaviors.
How Do Guys Act When They Are Jealous?
The green-eyed monster takes many more forms, but they’re typically focused on three things: limiting your access to rival men, punishing you for interacting with other men or demonstrating their worth to you.
These are some of the most common behaviors that’ll let you know your man is experiencing a bit of jealousy.
He Has a Hair Trigger
If you’ve noticed your husband or boyfriend gets irritable whenever you talk to other guys, he’s likely feeling jealous.
Those feelings can raise his heart rate, make him sweat, and cloud his mind; when you’re jealous it’s hard to think about anything else or deal with any stressors.
He’ll also have more negative feelings about you, making him less forgiving of perceived slights. If you notice that your partner is getting irritable, discuss the situation and reassure him there’s no need to feel jealous.
He Wants to Be Alone With You
Sounds romantic, right? Not exactly. Your friends, family, and colleagues are important to you, and a loving partner should be willing to share you with them regularly.
If your boyfriend or husband constantly shuts them out or says that he’d prefer to be alone with you, it could be a red flag that experiences an unhealthy level of jealousy.
He’s Always Checking Up On You
Maybe he sends you a flirty text message while you’re with friends. It shows he’s thinking about you and misses you, but what if you don’t answer that text right away?
If he keeps sending them, or worse, gets angry and demands to know where you are, his flirty texts are really a cover for his jealousy. He wants to know where you are at all times so he can feel secure that you’re not meeting up with another guy.
That kind of jealousy can become even more toxic when it escalates to him reading your text messages or tracking your whereabouts.
He’s Passive Aggressive
Do you ever feel like everything’s a petty fight after bruising your man’s ego? Many men deal with their jealous feelings through passive-aggressive behaviors: subtly insulting you, sulking, or giving you the silent treatment.
Jealousy has wounded his self-confidence, and he hopes these behaviors will garner him more attention. It’s not the most mature way to deal with hurt feelings, but it can usually be overcome with honest discussion.
He Butters You Up
A bouquet, a box of chocolates, or a special date night out on the town – your boyfriend or husband could be experiencing some jealousy and you’re the beneficiary.
This might seem like an attractive position, but it’s also not the healthiest way for your man to deal with his insecurities.
You don’t want him to think you’re in this relationship for the material things; that would put your romance on even shakier ground.
Addressing Jealousy in a Relationship
We all experience jealousy from time to time in our relationships. It’s human to feel insecure and we all need some reassurance to feel comfortable.
However, jealousy can become a poison pill in a relationship, tainting a person’s positive feelings for their partner and replacing them with suspicion and contempt.
The person who’s the object of jealousy feels dominated, distrusted, and eventually worthless.
While a little jealousy can serve as a healthy reminder of how much he values his relationship with you, anything more than that must be addressed through frank discussion or therapy with a licensed professional.
Jealous behaviors can seem flattering at first, but they’re a red flag for abusive behaviors down the road.