Teenagers: Is your partner jealous of your success?
By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 19, Aug 2019, 17:03 pm IST | UPDATED: 25, Aug 2019, 10:51 am IST
Has it ever happened that you return home from work, looking forward to tell your man that you have been promoted sooner than most colleagues, and you are met with indifference (read: resentment)? Guess what? This simmering jealousy in couples is more common than you think. “My husband and I are doctors, and we share a practice. Over time, I began getting more patients. A few patients would blatantly ask for me over him. This led to him sulking, to an extent that on some days, he wouldn’t talk to me, and would appear visibly angry. Naturally, our physical relationship suffered. The last straw was when I discovered that he was trying to poach my patients by badmouthing my skills!” says Dr Paramita Baruah*, 39, psychiatrist.
At times, this insecurity also arises when your partner feels threatened by other aspects of your personality like your popularity, confidence, or even looks.
“I like to be well-groomed, and ensure my clothes and makeup are perfect. However, just before stepping out, my boyfriend often makes uncharitable remarks about my appearance that will send my confidence crashing. He has also questioned my intention of opting for certain clothes by saying, ‘Do you wear dresses because you like men staring at your legs?’” says, Kamini Mishra*, 29, media professional.
What is it that makes one’s partner insecure with one’s success or popularity? According to experts, several factors ranging from their upbringing to feeling neglected can lead to such a scenario. Here’s a lowdown.
Patriarchal upbringing Conditioning plays a huge role when we talk about the dynamics of a relationship. For men, the idea of ‘losing control’ over the partner seeps in if the woman is growing faster professionally or personally. “Every day I meet a couple or two with troubled relationships owing to frequent fights, lack of communication, and loss of love. The root causes of these issues are often jealousy and intolerance of a partner’s progress, especially if the wife’s growth surpasses the husband’s. A lot of men can’t tolerate the fact partly because he has been conditioned to believe that men should be in control in the relationship. When his wife’s professional rank and salary exceeds his own, he fears losing control over his spouse,” says Delhi-based psychologist and marriage counsellor, Shivani Misri Sadhoo. “Similarly, a partner who is good-looking, confident, and has a wide social circle may be too much for a traditional man to handle.”
Fear of falling behind Be it exams or extra-curricular activities, from a tender age, most children are taught to outdo others. For some, this temperament spills over to their romantic relationships as well. “A number of urban Indian children are raised with a deep sense of competition. As a result, for many, their happiness is conditioned by their ability to beat others in their circle. These adults, generally, suffer immensely if their partners grow too close to or outgrow their professional and monetary status or have a wider social circle and are more accomplished in other ways,” adds Sadhoo.
Feeling rejected A downside of career growth is decreased quality time with one’s partner. This may lead to a feeling of neglect. "In such situations, your man may ask you to quit and start blaming household crises and children’s issues on you,” says Dr Rachna Khanna Singh, HOD Holistic Medicine & Psychology, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon. A prolonged lack of communication and the subsequent unresolved resentment can create a rift that will be difficult to heal later. “His inability to tell your suddenly busy self that he needs more time with you, will keep festering inside him,” says Singh.
Seal the deal: One cannot deny that happiness multiplies when shared with those you love. Instead of taking the path of ignorance and letting his resentment simmer, tackle the problems head-on. Try one of the following.
Confront him: Watch out for uncharacteristic coldness, non-communicative behaviour, and meltdowns. If you suspect that your career progression or personal growth may have anything to do with it, call him out. “Calmly tell him that his behaviour is hurting you, and this is not expected from someone you love. Perhaps, he hasn’t realised he has been dismissive of your achievements. He needs to know that his appreciation and encouragement mean a lot to you,” states Singh.
Get off your high horse: It takes two to tango. Thus, it’s not unthinkable that maybe, somewhere, you are at fault too. Acknowledge the fact, and strive towards fixing the relationship. “Chances are that his resentment didn’t flare overnight. He might have been seething over it for a while. Discuss what is bothering him, and be patient while listening to his grievances. Perhaps, he’s irritated that you’ve been bragging about your promotion a little too much, or maybe he hates it that you’ve started cancelling date nights, and are socialising with your colleagues instead. It’s also possible that you might have unintentionally given him the cold shoulder while soaking in the attention that you have been receiving,” Singh adds.
Set boundaries: It’s imperative to draw the line, and make it clear that certain behaviours are unacceptable. Your partner may not appreciate it instantly, but, in the long run, it will prove to be fruitful. “My husband lost his job during an economic slowdown, but I managed to hold on to mine. However, instead of being happy that at least one of us was earning, my husband started behaving badly. He refused to acknowledge my contribution as a sole earner; didn’t socialise with my colleagues; and was suspicious about my field trips, among other things. Finally, when I couldn’t take it anymore, we had a showdown where I made it clear that he needs to behave maturely and graciously. I told him in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t take taunts for earning well, or tolerate insults in front of my colleagues, or be made to feel that I was neglecting our home. In short, talking about my career was off-limits for him,” says Suhasini Singh, 28, copywriter.
Suggest counselling: There are a section of women who sacrifice their growth to restore harmony to the family. But, according to Sadhoo, insecurity and jealousy don’t diminish that way. “Unaddressed jealousy is like suppressed fire, it will reignite for another issue. Make your partner acknowledge, even if to himself, that his unreasonable behaviour is affecting your marriage. Encourage him to seek counselling as negative emotions cause immense emotional pain.”
Signs that your man is jealous Cold, incommunicative: He is dismissive about your achievements. He will often get busy doing something else when you talk about work or friends, and show disinterest. Suspicious: He never believes when you give him the real picture. Instead he is constantly questioning your character. Avoidant: Your partner may avoid social gatherings involving your colleagues and friends, because he thinks he doesn’t match up to your level. Such individuals suffer from poor self-image. Critical: Nothing will impress him, especially matters that relate to your career. In fact, he might end up being too critical of how you look, in order to convince you that he is unflustered.