Smothering jealousy


Smothering jealousy


your avatar   27-year-old man

I'm 27 and have been in a serious relationship for about 7 months with a divorced mom of a 4-year-old child. We met at friend's birthday party and she actually made the move to meet me. I'm shy but thought she was nice-looking. However, I've only made "the move" to meet someone after I've been drinking to remove the pressure. Well, it was a whirlwind romance and we actually started spending every night together after only 2 dates. Basically, I moved in even though I've had my own apartment to this day. After 5 months, we rented our own apartment and have been living together until recently.

I realize I have self-esteem problems. The thought that I'm not good enough, that people are talking about me behind my back, and whether I can trust people all come to mind daily. Due to my self-esteem problem, I'm a smothering type of person. I know this; I've had regular friends say they felt this way. I'm a very suspicious and jealous of her going out with friends, co-workers, or anyone that might take her away from me permanently. I love her so much and don't want to lose her. I already lost one woman to this problem and don't want to make the same mistake twice.

She has told me several times she had the same problem and it drove her ex-boyfriend away from her until he basically lost all interest in her. She said she knows how he felt now and doesn't want me to feel the loss she felt after losing him. She went to counseling for just over a year and is now on medication for depression.

I'm back at my own apartment now and she said she needs space so that she can have faith in me, not grow to dislike me for clinging so much, and be able to give us a chance. She is feeling really smothered and I know why. The words I've put this in are my own and sound worse than the phrasing she used but it is all the truth. I'm just confused as to what I can expect and if there is any healing available for the basic jealous, suspicious, un-trusting person she just wants to date even though she says she loves me and may decide we should be together in the future. There really is a special love between us and I know I need to get help for my self-esteem and jealousy problems. From what I've said do you have any suggestions? I'm seeking both pure professional and religious counseling myself starting this week and I'm wondering what to expect. But I nuts? Are we both just in the wrong relationship? Should I expect a quick solution or will this be drawn out? I want to find some way to change the way I feel since I know it's not healthy in this or any relationship.


    Margaret Burr, MA, MFT

You say you are starting counseling soon. Congratulations! That is a very courageous and empowering thing to do. Good luck.

My sense of you is that you know a lot about yourself. You know, for instance, what is basically your nature and what changes you would like to see in yourself. You have important insight and awareness. You sound like a very good candidate for psychotherapy to me.

By expecting healing and growth, you will likely commit to therapy, and continue to face the doubts and fears you have. You will, ultimately, learn to love and accept yourself, and your world will reflect this. Therapy works! But, generally, it works slowly. Right now, it may seem important that all of this healing happen quickly. Try not to get discouraged if it doesn't. Your low self-esteem has had many opportunities over the course of your lifetime to get re-established as part of your sense of self. Little by little, as you begin to look at your feelings and behaviors within the safety and structure of weekly therapy, you will begin to celebrate yourself and feel better. Like any wound, the scar of low self-esteem takes time to heal. Try not to rush the healing. My guess is that your greatest healing will come by not rushing. (You mentioned the tools you have used to not feel uncomfortable feelings, i.e. drinking and sex. Your healing will likely involve learning to tolerate uncomfortable feelings and this will take time and possibly, abstinence from, say, drinking.)

I'd recommend that you get as much support and encouragement as you can get, in addition to weekly or twice-weekly counseling, by attending CODA meetings or any other support group for persons with pronounced dependent personality traits. Also, read whatever self-help books you find on co-dependency. Dig in and make the commitment to change and grow. But have tons of patience with yourself - it takes time to grow!

This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit:


When experiencing negative emotions ask yourself, "What is this feeling trying to tell me"?
"Always forgive your enemies nothing annoys them so much."
Oscar Wilde
Remember, negative expectations create self-fulfilling prophecies.