Dear eNotAlone: I've been struggling with issues of trust and insecurity in my relationship, and it's getting worse and worse. I'm head-over-heels in love with my boyfriend, but I can't seem to shake these feelings of jealousy. He had a few serious relationships before we met and sometimes I feel like he still loves them more than me. He has never done anything to give me reason to mistrust him but I can't help it and it's destroying the little bit of happiness we have together. How can I learn to trust him, and even more importantly, how can I stop being jealous of his past?
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The feeling of jealousy is a tricky one to navigate, especially when it comes to someone's past relationships. It can be tough knowing that there were a few people before you that your partner was deeply connected to, but the key here is to remember that it is in the past for a reason. Jealousy and insecurity can take root, so it is important to take steps to remind yourself why your relationship is different from the ones that came before.
First, try to make sure that you find ways to remind yourself why you chose to be with your partner in the first place. Create a list of all the qualities that drew you to him and remind yourself of them regularly. Make a point to talk to each other about the present often – it's easy to get stuck thinking about the past, but make sure you both stay on the same page in terms of your current relationship and goals.
It is also important to practice good self-care. Have a conversation with yourself – what needs do you have that aren't being completely met in your relationship? Write them down and speak them out loud to yourself. Are there areas in which you feel neglected or pushed aside? Once you have taken the time to identify your needs, you have the opportunity to bring them to your partner and engage with those issues in an honest and clear way. This will help create an atmosphere for both of you to be vulnerable with each other and to understand better why jealousy may be an issue.
Remember that in any healthy relationship, both parties need to express their feelings properly in order to work things out. Be open to discussing your own feelings of jealousy with your partner, but don't make this a one sided conversation. Doing so will give both of you the chance to air out any grievances and start to build a dialogue around your deeper issues.
It may also be beneficial to get outside help through counseling or therapy. A third party can offer an objective view of your relationship and help both you and your partner gain an understanding of how to create an environment of trust and security in your relationship.
Take heart from the fact that you are taking steps to recognize and work through your feelings of jealousy. Learning to trust someone is a process, and it takes dedication from both partners in order to make it work. With a bit of patience and effort, you can strengthen your bond and trust in a way that will keep your relationship healthy for years to come.