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Should Jealousy Ruin Your Relationship?

Special Article: Love and Romance - - -Making the Most of Jealousy

Making the Most of Jealousy

by Lynette De Vries

For as long as we can remember, it has been the focus of Top 40 songs, box office smashes and talk shows. Wherever love goes, it quickly follows -- the infamous "J" word. Jealousy.

As Webster's Dictionary defines it, the word jealous means "suspiciously watchful; distrustful of faithfulness; envious; anxiously solicitous." More and more, pop culture paints jealousy in a different light -- as the inexplicable force that drives people to hire private detectives, to sabotage relationships, and in the most extreme cases, to commit murder. If you've ever felt a pang of jealousy in a romantic relationship -- and most of us have -- you know that it can make your gut ache, your blood boil, your logic vanish. People take jealousy and turn it into self-doubt, insecurity and desperation. We might come across a photo a lover's ex and lie awake that night, comparing our own inadequacies to that ex's perfection. We might intercept a phone call from a spouse's husky-voiced coworker and turn a harmless conversation into the basis for an interrogation.

We're all guilty of jealousy, to one degree or another, but there are ways to use this vice to benefit you, your partner and your relationship. Skeptical? Try a few of the following approaches and discover the ways you can counteract jealousy and improve your love life:

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Instead of making your partner or spouse feel like a monster for admiring another person's beauty, encourage it. Point out another person's flawless physique or treat your spouse to an erotic video that features both women and men. Before long, your partner will start seeing you as his partner, not the person who is competing for his or her attention.

Become one of the guys (or girls). Instead of letting your imagination run wild while he's out for a night with the guys, tag along. You may not get a thrill out of watching a woman undress on stage, but adult nightclubs are open to everyone. Your partner won't feel the need to lie about his goings-on, and you never know -- you might pick up a few ideas about how to dance, dress (and undress) for your partner at home!

Dig up the past. No one likes to dwell upon the conquests of yesterday, but honest discussions can be therapeutic. It might be painful to hear the juicy details about your partner's last love, but chances are, your relationship with him puts his old flames to shame. Getting history out in the open can make you feel better and give you some insight on improving the future.

Play by the same rules. Love is a two-way street, and so is jealousy. If he tends to be flirtatious, show him that you can measure up. Let your eyes follow the gorgeous waiter across the room, let him know that you have attractive coworkers, too. If nothing else, he'll realize that if he can dish it out, he'll have to take it. As soon as he realizes that you're open to harmless flirting (and receiving it), he'll see you through their eyes -- as an attractive, desirable person.

Give him/her the benefit of the doubt. Twenty questions will get you nowhere. If your suspicions are unfounded, keep them to yourself. Countless men and women have been driven to extramarital affairs by accusations. When you extend trust, you're more likely to be rewarded with honesty.

There's a difference, of course, between "a little jealousy" and a relationship that is based upon lies and infidelity. If your partner has ever crossed the line between harmless flirtation and blatant unfaithfulness, jealousy is the least of your worries. If your idea of right and wrong don't match your lover's, you'll encounter problems down the road. In cases like that, remove yourself from this Fatal Attraction and chalk it up to a learning experience.

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