My Jealousy Issue

I hope this is still the right email. I haven’t written you in forever! But I still read your books, and love them. I just graduated high school and I’ve been reading your Alice books since middle school. Anyways, I was hoping if it’d be alright if I wrote you in need of some relationship advice. So….there’s this guy that I’ve been dating for a few months now, and he’s a really sweet and laid back guy. He lives close, we hang out whenever possible, and I love spending time with him. But…I don’t really know how to say this, I have a very big problem with insecurities. I’m SO paranoid and insecure! I don’t want to be, but I just get jealous very easily. He has a lot of friends that are girls, some of whom I met when I went to a dance at his school, and they were very sweet…almost too sweet. But there’s this one girl, I’ll call her “Sadie” (not her real name), but I honestly get jealous whenever she’s around. She’s extremely pretty, has gorgeous long hair, and ALWAYS flirts with my boyfriend. My boyfriend tells me not to worry, that she flirts with everyone, but I can’t help but feel self-concious whenever she’s around. I think she honestly likes him, and I go crazy whenever I see her. I’m like that with all girls, and whenever I get jealous I have to wonder if I’m legitimately jealous or if it’s just me being insecure. I haven’t talked to my boyfriend about my jealousy issue, because I don’t want him to think that I’m controlling or possessive, and for him to drop me. I guess part of the reason I’m so insecure is beacuse of bad relationships in the past, and my dad is very abusive and mean, so I don’t get a lot of love at home. I’m just so scared to lose him because I feel like he’s the only guy in my life who loves me…. but I really don’t know how to deal with the jealousy issue. I guess I’m writing you more just to let out my feelings, I’m not sure if there’s any advice out there for me. Thanks for listening, and I’m sorry this email was so long. Hope you’re having a great summer.

Phyllis replied:

Here’s the deal:  there are always going to be other attractive people around.  You can’t do anything about this, and if you worry about every other girl your boyfriends or an eventual husband meets, you are lost before you begin.  Guys choose their girlfriends or their wives not just by physical attractiveness, but by how comfortable they are with that person.  How much that person shares their interests, their goals.  How much that person listens to them, and props them up when they’re feeling low.  Look at the engagement pages in a newspaper, and you will see very handsome guys sometimes with somewhat plain looking girls, and vice versa.  The key sentence in your email, I believe, is, “I feel he’s the only guy in my life who loves me.”  This could well be the  result of the relationship between you and your dad, making you feel desperate, but it simply isn’t true.  When we choose someone to marry, for example, he’s not the “only one in the world” for us.  He’s one of the many–millions, even–whom you could love and who would love you in return–if you had the means and the time to meet them all.  When you commit to marry, you are committing as much to the marrige as to the person, and it’s this commitment that often helps a marriage stay on track.  The same is true for a boyfriend–he may be attracted to some degree to another girl, but he stays both because he loves you and  because he doesn’t want to hurt you or the relationship. I can’t inject you with self-confidence; that has to come naturally as you work through your problems and gain confidence in doing best what you love most.  But when you see a beautiful girl flirting with your guy, the proper response to your boyfriend is a loving, bemused, “I can understand why she likes you; you’re one of the most attractive guys here.” 

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