You're in a relationship, and yet you're jealous of other couples. Why is that?
Why do we get stuck sometimes thinking that the grass is greener on the other side?
In truth, as Neil Barringham said "The grass is greener where you water it" and on that subject, we already wrote an article titled 7 Ways to Water Your Relationship Grass.
Here, I want to do something a little different.
In this article, I want to break down WHY we often get jealous of other couples or relationships outside of our own.
Let's break it down into FIVE key issues.
Reason One. Our Issues Feel Insurmountable
It's easy to be jealous of other relationships when we feel as though our own relationship issues are insurmountable. In fact, we might even begin to question whether it's even possible to create the kind of relationship we're looking for.
When we feel insecure within our own relationship and doubt our ability to repair it, it's easy to look outward. In these moments, we might catch ourselves imagining a new relationship where we have the opportunity to start over "knowing what we know now."
In some cases, this feeling of overwhelm and doubt is justified. Sometimes we create relationships that are so fundamentally unhealthy that there's honestly nothing we can do to repair them.
But in many cases, what feels insurmountable is completely repairable.
From our clinical and coaching experience, we often find that a relationship might be 90% intact, but the missing 10% is perceived as "everything." These numbers aren't literal of course. We're simply saying that when our relationship is missing something that we value, it can feel far more unhealthy than it actually is.
Honestly, the best way to know whether a relationship can be repaired is by answering two simple questions.
- Did the relationship start as something that was relatively healthy to begin with?
- Are both people willing to put in the effort in-good-faith to make it work?
If the relationship started with a relatively decent foundation (not perfect), and both people have the in-it-to-win-it mindset, then repair is HIGHLY LIKELY. Especially when you pair it with targetted knowledge and effort as you would find in our Crystal Clarity Online coaching program.
But let's talk about that proverbial missing 10%.
Reason Two. The Missing 10% Feels Like EVERYTHING
Sex is a common and significant relationship issue, so we'll use that as an example.
When your relationship is healthy and the sex is decent, it feels like 10% of your overall relationship equation. But when your relationship is unhealthy and sex is missing, it feels like 90% of your overall relationship is out of step.
And truthfully... whether it's sex, connection, conversation, or something else...
When your relationship is missing something you value, it will feel like EVERYTHING is out of whack.
For the person whose relationship is lacking sex and intimacy, all they tend to see is the fact that there's no sex or intimacy. In this mindset, they tend to disregard where the relationship is actually healthy. Instead, they become fixated on what's missing.
From our experience, what's missing is often FAR LESS than what's intact and working. Not always, but often.
This brings us to reason three.
Reason Three. The Other Side Has the Missing 10%
When all you're seeing is what's missing in your relationship, you become hyper-sensitive to what other relationships might offer you. Particularly when it comes to your missing 10%.
Made simple, if you're missing sex, passion, and intimacy; you're going to be drawn to people who are offering just that.
Sometimes we leave our current relationship to start a new one. Sometimes we go down the route of cheating/affairs. Sometimes we do nothing other than remain jealous of other couples and "how good they must have it."
Regardless, when we're in this place where we've felt emotionally starved for a long period of time, we're not seeing other people or relationships clearly.
When we're considering a new relationship, we're focused on how that person can help us fill this emotional void that we've dealt with for so long. At that moment, we're so focused on this person providing us with our missing 10% that we ignore the other 90% of what they're bringing to the relationship table.
Reason Four. You Can't See the 90% From the Outside!
It's funny (but not really) how we think other couples and relationships "have it all."
This is the problem with standing on your porch and admiring your neighbor's yard or garden, isn't it? Not only are you seeing it from a distance. You have no idea what it looks like behind the scenes when it comes to maintaining it.
It's the same thing in our relationships.
It's all-to-easy to be jealous of other couples. To look to another relationship and admire what's visible. We even make up stories in our heads as to "how good their relationship must be." In reality, we're clueless about the work that's gone into the relationship.
We're also clueless to the fact that we might be admiring something that looks healthy on the outside while it's festering on the inside!
While we can clearly see our own relationship issues, we idealize other people's relationships. We also idealize how much better a new relationship might be compared to our existing one.
All of it is again fueled by the missing 10%. It's fueled by the resentment in our relationship that has us ignoring all the good or the 90% of our relationship that's healthy and intact.
It's only when we explore that ideal do we realize that it was anything but.
Maybe we leave our current relationship for a new one. Maybe we have an affair and think we're "truly in love" with our affair partner.
But with a little time, we begin seeing the new relationship from the inside. We start to notice things that we couldn't have seen from the outside.
It's then that we often discover our new relationship might have our missing 10%, but it's lacking the other 90% we wanted from a partner.
Unfortunately, we couldn't see that from the other side of the street. We often get jealous of other couples or relationships without ever even knowing if there's something there to be jealous of!
Along these lines, this is why less than 2% of affair relationships end up becoming healthy long-term marriages.
Because in order to have an affair, it takes two people who are emotionally unhealthy and looking outside of their relationship to heal. Neither person is emotionally equipped to be able to see the other person clearly.
This brings me to our final point... Our expectations on love, marriage, and partnership.
Reason Five. Unrealistic Expectations
Society has taught us that your marriage/partnership should “make you happy.” It's taught us that your partner should be your lover, your best friend, and your confidante. It's taught us that our spouse is the one who's responsible for our happiness and fulfillment.
Doctor Glen and I want to address each of these. But maybe we'll do this in a new article.
For right now, we'll say this.
Marriage and partnership are vehicles for growth and creating a life of meaning. Its purpose goes far beyond simply "being happy."
EVERY meaningful pursuit in life is filled with ups and downs. In fact, name a meaningful pursuit that isn't difficult and I'll give you a cookie... well, a metaphorical cookie.
You can't can you?
What's meaningful is challenging, because if it weren't, then it would cease to be meaningful wouldn't it?
We're often jealous or idealizing other people's relationships because our marriage isn't doing what we mistakingly think it should be doing.
When our marriage or partnership fails to make us happy, we look outward rather than look inward to the actual problems.
It's our unrealistic expectations of long-term relationships that have us feeling jealous of other couples, or maybe thinking that a new relationship would be better than what we have.
When we're looking at a fundamentally unhealthy or abusive relationship, this is true.
In these moments you'd be right to be jealous of other couples who seemingly have it together. You'd also be right to think that a healthy relationship would be better than your unhealthy/abusive one. Because it will be!
But in every other instance, moments where we're just expecting too much of our partner/relationship, we're being led astray.
In these moments, we need to remind ourselves to do two things...
First, we need to learn how to repair our own pains and wounds that have us looking for external solutions to internal problems.
Second, we need to learn how to repair our existing relationship by understanding the nature of healthy relationship dynamics.