Why Am I So Jealous?

Jealousy is a natural emotion that can arise for various reasons. Jealousy often involves a mix of complex emotions, including insecurityanxiety, anger, and inadequacy.

While feeling jealous occasionally is normal, it can become problematic when these feelings are excessive, irrational, or controlling (i.e, unhealthy jealousy).

Understanding these underlying emotions is crucial for managing jealously effectively.

jealousy causes

Here are some common reasons why you may feel jealous in your relationship:


Jealousy often stems from feelings of insecurity, where you may feel uncertain about your own worth or desirability in comparison to others. You might think that you’re not good enough or that you’re somehow lacking in comparison

Mental health and wellbeing expert Andrea M. Darcy explains that “when we feel happy and secure, we are unlikely to experience jealous feelings over mere suspicions. But when we feel vulnerable or less than? It becomes harder to trust that your relationships will thrive and that your partner will not abandon you.” 

When individuals feel insecure about themselves, their self-worth, or their relationship, they are more likely to see other people as a threat and become susceptible to jealousy. 

Here are some examples of how personal insecurities can lead to jealousy:

  • Physical Appearance: If someone is insecure about their physical appearance, they might become jealous when their partner interacts with someone they perceive as more attractive.
  • Past Experiences: Someone who has been cheated on before may be more prone to jealousy in their current relationship, fearing a similar outcome.
  • Comparisons: Insecure individuals are more likely to compare themselves to others and perceive others as threats. You may experience jealousy when you see couples who seem happier or more secure.

Negative Past Relationships

Past experiences of betrayal, infidelity, or abandonment can contribute to feelings of jealousy.

If you have been hurt or betrayed in previous relationships, you might carry these unresolved emotions into new relationships, worry about your partner’s loyalty, and fear being hurt in similar ways.

For example, previous experiences of being cheated on can make you prone to jealousy if your partner flirts with others or does not seem as committed to the relationship as you.

Low Self-Esteem

Andrea M. Darcy notes that “if you are constantly jealous in relationships, the roots of jealousy will lie in how you feel about yourself. This means that jealousy can particularly be a problem if we suffer low self-esteem.” 

Low self-esteem can lead to feelings of inadequacy and the belief that others are more desirable or successful than you.

This self-doubt and suspicion can fuel feelings of jealousy when you perceive others as a threat.

For example, if someone doesn’t feel deserving of love and affection, they may be constantly worried that their partner will find someone better.

Common characteristics of people with low self-esteem include:

  • Engaging in negative self talk
  • Second-guessing their decisions and actions
  • Doubting their abilities and feeling unsure of themselves
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Struggling to initiate and maintain relationships
  • Believing they are not deserving of love or attention
  • Being highly sensitive to criticism
  • Being jealous of their partner’s success or accomplishments
  • Seeking external validation

Inadequate communication

Poor communication in relationships can contribute to misunderstandings and unaddressed concerns. Partners may make assumptions about each other’s intentions, leading to feelings of insecurity and jealousy.

For example, insecure individuals may misinterpret innocent communication as flirtation or romantic interest. They might become jealous when their partner has a friendly conversation with a colleague or a friend.

Inadequate communication is particular prevalent in long-distance relationships as the lack of physical proximity and increased uncertainty about the relationship can cause individuals to be more hyper vigilant of their partners’ actions and intentions. 

The limited ability to verify information firsthand can result in filling in gaps with assumptions and imagination. When you are not physically together, it is easy to start overthinking and imagining what your partner might be doing. 

Can you trust someone and still be jealous?

It is possible to trust someone and still experience jealousy. Trust and jealousy are not mutually exclusive emotions, and they can coexist in a relationship.

Trust involves believing in your partner’s honesty, integrity, and commitment to the relationship. Jealousy often arises from a fear of losing someone or something important. It often arises from internal emotions and may not necessarily reflect your partner’s behavior.

Trusting someone does not guarantee that jealousy will never occur as people can still experience moments of insecurity or vulnerability. These feelings may be triggered by various factors, such as past experiences, personal insecurities, or external circumstances.

However, it is important to differentiate between healthy levels of jealousy and jealousy that becomes controlling or possessive. Whereas healthy levels of jealousy can coexist with trust, excessive or irrational jealousy can be detrimental to a relationship.

Can social media affect jealousy?

Social media can significantly affect feelings of jealousy within romantic relationships.

Social media often presents idealized versions of people’s lives, including their relationships. Seeing other couples posting happy and loving pictures can lead to comparisons and feelings of inadequacy in your own relationship.

Additionally, interactions between your partner and others on social media, such as liking, commenting, or messaging, can trigger jealousy. Innocent online interactions may be misinterpreted as flirtation or romantic interest.

Furthermore, seeing your partner’s interactions with their exes on social media can be a common source of jealousy. It might raise questions about the nature of those relationships and whether there are lingering feelings.

Remember that while social media can exacerbate jealousy, it’s ultimately how you and your partner handle these challenges together that will determine the impact on your relationship. Healthy communication and trust-building are crucial in managing jealousy related to social media.

Julia Simkus edited this article.


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An infographic outlining some of the possible reasons why someone may experience extreme jealousy in their relationship.

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Saul Mcleod, PhD

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Educator, Researcher

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Haddi Browne

Mental Health Writer, Medical Writer, Proofreader

Education BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Mental Health Studies

Miss Haddi Browne is a freelance mental health writer and proof-reader with over seven years of experience working as a professional researcher with a diverse range of clients across the lifespan, including young adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.