9 signs your partner’s jealousy is damaging the relationship

A little jealousy in a relationship is normal and can even strengthen your bond.

However, there is a fine line between healthy and unhealthy jealousy. 

Unhealthy jealousy is linked to insecurity and low self-esteem. An excessively jealous partner may become needy, controlling, and paranoid, damaging the relationship to a point of no return.

But how do you know if your partner’s jealousy is healthy or damaging?

Well, if you see the following 9 signs in your partner, it is almost certainly the latter!

1) They’re constantly starting arguments

With healthy romantic jealousy, people feel envy about real threats. 

But with unhealthy jealousy, they feel envy about things they perceive as threats. 

This is due to their tendency to overreact and their insecurity. 

They are always looking for something that could threaten their relationship, and as soon as they spot something, they respond in an over-the-top way.

Moreover, as highly jealous people struggle to control their jealousy, they frequently start arguments, accusing you of doing things you haven’t done.

The arguments will always be the same story, too.

They accuse or blame you for something, often gaslighting you to convince you (and themselves) that you are disloyal. 

They will also have a very short fuse, flying off the handle frequently. 

However, their bouts of rage will often be unpredictable, so you may feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells around them. 

2) They want to know where you are at all times

As mentioned, a partner becomes excessively jealous when they are insecure.

This insecurity can stem from various things, but they likely struggle to believe that you love or want to be with them.

They are basically always expecting you to cheat. 

So, to feel in control, they want to know what you are doing at all times. In their minds, they think if they know your whereabouts, they can prevent any infidelity. 

If this is your partner, the first thing you’ll do when you arrive anywhere is text them to let them know.

And that is never enough.

They will continue texting you the entire time, asking for updates. And if you don’t respond promptly, your phone will be ringing off the hook!

This severe insecurity is also the reason why they might create this rule…

3) You have to run everything by them

Your partner expects you to check in with them regarding everything you do and everywhere you go.

This is not them simply asking you to let them know when you get home.

They want to know ALL your plans in detail, including who else will be there and what exactly you will be doing.

And if they disapprove of your plan, they will talk you out of it. 

Of course, their reason for not wanting you to go somewhere or see someone is always the same – that they want to protect you.

4) You’re spending less and less time with your friends

With a jealous partner, planning things with your friends becomes emotionally exhausting.

Each time you plan to see a friend, drama ensues. 

Your partner complains that:

  • You prioritize your friends over them
  • You’re not spending enough time with them
  • Your friend is a bad influence

After numerous times of the two and throw that comes with this, you realize it’s easier to stop seeing your friends – which is exactly what your jealous partner wants. 

The likelihood of a jealous partner controlling their spouse’s social engagements significantly increases if there is someone of the opposite sex in the friendship circle. 

A 1997 research study by Shackelford and Buss found that the biggest trigger of jealousy in a relationship is suspicion of the partner having a sexual relationship with someone else. 

So, knowing that you have a friend of the opposite sex is enough to trigger unhealthy jealousy in an insecure partner, leading to controlling behaviors like the following…

5) You’ve caught them checking your phone

Jealous people are unable to trust their partners

Even if you have done nothing to raise their suspicions, they will still be 100% convinced that you will cheat or leave them for someone else.

And no matter how many times you tell them you love them, they will never be able to take your word for it. They have to see proof for themselves.

That’s why jealous people always want to monitor their partner’s communications.

Not only are they constantly looking over your shoulder as you text, but you’ve likely caught them going through your phone – probably more than once.

Sometimes, this becomes so damaging and unhealthy that they want to know your passcode or demand that you hand over your phone whenever they ask. 

And if you’ve ever been in this situation, you’ll know that saying no is not an option.

Refusing to hand over your phone cements their belief that you are untrustworthy and further fuels their desire to control you.

6) You constantly have to reassure them

signs youre in a relationship with a man who secretly feels inadequate 9 signs your partner's jealousy is damaging the relationship

Because of their lack of trust, when you have a jealous partner, you will find you’re always trying to reassure them.

You can convince them of your faithfulness temporarily, but it never lasts. 

As soon as they perceive the next “threat,” you’ll be back to square one. 

This is because they are so convinced in their minds that you are unfaithful, so they will keep digging to prove this.

No matter how much evidence you have to show you’re faithful, they will always find something else – resulting in a constant cycle of blame and reassurance.

7) They complain about what you wear

Another common sign that relationship jealousy has reached the point of no return is when your partner starts controlling multiple aspects of your life. 

One of the first things a jealous partner will start to control is your appearance. This could be:

  • What you wear
  • How you do your hair
  • How much makeup you wear

Usually, this starts subtly. 

They comment that a skirt is too revealing or that “you don’t need to wear so much makeup.”

These controlling remarks become more frequent, and the list of what you can wear becomes shorter and shorter.

But why are jealous people so concerned about the appearance of their partners?

It all comes back to their lack of trust.

Not only do they not trust you, but they don’t trust anyone around you. They are convinced that everyone wants to have sex with you.

So they try to control this by making you appear less desirable to others. 

And, of course, if you call them out on their controlling behaviors, they gaslight you. They respond with something like:

  • “Who are you trying to impress?” 
  • “Why do you care how you look to others?”
  • “I like your natural look best.”

Controlling your appearance is a form of emotional abuse and one that often leads to physical violence. 

According to a 1988 research study by Daly and Wilson, sexual jealousy is the primary motive for domestic violence, including spousal homicide.

8) They keep threatening to end the relationship

Another form of emotional abuse is using threats.

Your partner might threaten to end the relationship if you don’t comply with their demands.

Or they could threaten to harm themselves if you ignore their controlling requests.

Here’s an example…

Let’s say your partner tells you they don’t want you to hang out with a male friend.

You tell them they have no reason not to trust you and that you won’t stop seeing them. 

Your partner, feeling unable to control you and the situation, then responds by saying if you go out with your friend, they will hurt themselves. 

In these situations, the jealous partner uses your love for them to manipulate and control you.

Threats of any kind are a huge red flag and a sign to end the relationship immediately. 

Threatening behavior can also signify an obsessive form of jealousy known as morbid jealousy, which is a severe psychological disorder.

9) You feel emotionally exhausted

Being in a jealous relationship takes its toll. The experience slowly transitions from enjoyable to exhausting. 

With a jealous partner, you’re always worried about the next accusation. And you feel like you spend all your time trying to defend yourself and make them trust you.

So one way to know if your partner’s jealousy is healthy or damaging is to ask yourself, how does it make you feel?

Do you see it as cute or annoying?

Do you laugh at their jealous outbursts or fear them?

If you’re feeling emotionally exhausted, this is an undeniable sign that your partner’s jealousy is ruining the relationship.

Final thoughts

So, what should you do if you feel your partner’s jealousy is ruining the relationship?

Should you immediately call it quits and leave?

Well, it depends. In many cases, it’s best to sit down and talk about things first. 

Without getting defensive, ask them what makes them jealous, and listen empathically. If your partner seems willing to work on their jealousy, give it time as they navigate their insecurities. 

Be available and offer plenty of affection during this time, but ensure you’re setting boundaries and NOT tolerating any abuse or controlling behavior. 

That being said, if your partner is threatening you or you feel unsafe in any way, you must protect yourself by leaving ASAP.

Picture of Gemma Clarke

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space. I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

0:00
0:00