You are currently viewing Episode 366: I Feel Jealous and Then I Feel Ashamed

Episode 366: I Feel Jealous and Then I Feel Ashamed

Jealousy is challenging to feel. “I should trust my partner; I should be more confident. Even I don’t know what to do with my insecurity – it makes me feel ashamed.

George suggests that jealousy is data from the body. It’s a signal that you feel vulnerable. We recognize our partner’s attractiveness. What we do with this feeling can actually increase the bond between our partner and us if we learn to ask for reassurance.

A jealous encounter may cause a partner to feel accused of doing something wrong. George and Laurie role-play it in an escalated and triggered way. Then, they demo a more secure and protected way of sharing these feelings and getting the comfort that adds to the couple’s connection.

Show Notes

 Navigating Jealousy and Insecurity in Relationships
A. Discuss common themes in therapy sessions related to outside attention and communication
B. Address the vulnerability of feeling unnoticed or ignored by one’s partner
C. Explore the tension and difficulty in discussing jealousy and insecurities
D. Share personal experiences and reflections on feeling threatened by others and the importance of open communication

Addressing Insecurities and Building Deeper Connection
A. Discuss the naturalness of feeling jealous and insecure in a sexual relationship
B. Advocate for open communication about jealousy to resolve issues and strengthen the relationship
C. Acknowledge the impact of shame and self-criticism on insecurity
D. Share personal example of the speaker’s husband’s work and the feelings it evoked
E. Discuss the importance of addressing insecurities intentionally and protecting one’s partner

 Role-Playing to Practice Addressing Insecurities
A. Explain the benefits of role-playing in addressing insecurities in a safe context
B. Encourage listeners to practice sharing insecurities with their partner
C. Offer guidance on being mindful of each other’s triggers and taking it slow
D. Wrap up the discussion on managing insecurities in relationships


George Faller [00:00:00]:

The following content is not suitable for children. Finish the mission. Let’s talk about jealousy and how we could have success talking about it.

Laurie Watson [00:00:08]:

OOH. So many people have been talking with me this week about anxieties with their partners, with others. I think this is a great topic, something so important for us to talk about. Welcome to Foreplay Sex Therapy. I’m Dr. Laurie Watson, your sex therapy therapist.

George Faller [00:00:25]:

And I’m George Faller, your couples therapist.

Laurie Watson [00:00:28]:

We are here to talk about sex.

George Faller [00:00:30]:

Our mission is to help couples talk about sex in ways that incorporate their body, their mind, and their hearts, and.

Laurie Watson [00:00:38]:

We have a little bit of fun doing it right.

George Faller [00:00:39]:

G listen and let’s change some relationships. I love to start off by really opening up space. We talk about connecting first before you try to fix it or stretch it and just connect in with the function of jealousy. It’s just the body’s way of saying, hey, there’s something here that might be a threat. It might not be real, it might not be your partner doing anything wrong, but your body just says, hey, we have something good, and I don’t want to lose it. And there’s something here that’s making me uncomfortable. That’s all insecurity. We all have those insecurities and jealousies, and there’s something really good and healthy and adaptive about it. We get the impact and do something totally different. But how does that sound, Lori, just starting off with that?

Laurie Watson [00:01:21]:

Oh, that sounds really good. I have a personal example. My husband did a work when we were younger, and it was kind of like this ministry, and for four days, I had very little access to him, because when he was actually working, there were like, no, I don’t think we had cell phones. But there was no getting to him. So if the children had an emergency, I couldn’t reach him or whatever. And I knew that a lot of this was a mixed crowd, people that he worked with, men and women, and the women would send me notes after these four days. Thank you so much for sharing your husband with us. His ministry is so important and all this stuff kind of their idolization of him. And I would go to some of them, and I would see the way they looked at him, and he’s really powerful at what he does, and it was like, yeah, I want to sleep with him too, especially this part of him. He’s so great. So I knew that a lot of women were being turned on, and I would feel anxious, and then I was cut off, and I couldn’t reach him. And I don’t think I had the wherewithal at that time in my marriage to really say, my body is telling me, I don’t want to lose this. We got something good going on. I don’t want to lose it, and I don’t know how to talk about it with you.

George Faller [00:02:39]:

Exactly. And I think that’s the dynamics that couples fall into. Like, you try to talk about it, but when you bring it up, his brain hears it as you not trusting him, as you telling him you’re doing something wrong. When he defends himself from that and says, you’re crazy. You’re too much, why are you jealous? This is a problem you shouldn’t be feeling this way. Doesn’t really help when you tell somebody they shouldn’t be feeling this way. Right. And you can see it has never helped.

Laurie Watson [00:03:06]:

It has never helped when you say, calm down or you’re too much, you shouldn’t be anxious, that never actually helps.

George Faller [00:03:14]:

Well, him hearing the message he failing makes him tell you you’re too much. You tell him he’s failing after he tells you you’re too much. And it just feeds that negative cycle that we talk so much. You know Ryan Rayner and James Hawkins, right? Of Leading Edge podcast, the EFT trainer.

Laurie Watson [00:03:34]:

Great podcast, The Leading Edge.

George Faller [00:03:36]:


Laurie Watson [00:03:37]:

I listen all the time. Learn so much. Please tune in.

George Faller [00:03:40]:

They talk about in one of their episodes, entering the Fray. And Fray is another acronym for a failed repair attempt. That’s so often what’s happening with couples in these conversations around jealousy. They try to talk about it, how they bring it up. Lori brings it up. Hey, what are you doing? Who are you talking to? These four days, I couldn’t get in touch with you. And her husband may be like, what is wrong with you? I’m just working. I’m trying to provide. Why are you being so angry? And that conversation is over. Like their brains are yellow.

Laurie Watson [00:04:13]:


George Faller [00:04:13]:

It’s a failed attempt they’re not able to repair. Next time it happens, the same thing happens. And when you see around these jealousy conversations, there’s thousands and thousands of attempts to talk about it. When Lori’s just feeling anxious and needs some reassurance, and then Derek gets the message he’s failing, both of them don’t get help with those feelings. And every time it happens, it just reinforces the anticipation. The next time that the same thing’s going to happen. And it takes on a life of its own.

Laurie Watson [00:04:41]:

It does. And I want to say a little bit about jealousy. I think most of us are ashamed that we feel jealous. We don’t accept that as a natural emotion that our body is telling us something important. I love that you said that, George. It’s like I got tears in my eyes because I think you’re so right. When we have those feelings, we need to examine them. They’re okay. It’s what we do with them sometimes that can break attachment with our partner. But feeling jealous, especially when we’re in a sexual relationship with somebody and we notice how attractive they are, and we notice other people noticing that it’s just kind of natural to feel something about that and to feel, okay, is this a threat or not? And if we can talk about it it’s all good. We can get back on track with each other. But I think, and this was certainly what I felt as a younger person, was like, okay, I’m ashamed. I should trust my partner. I should be more confident. I should be more confident in myself. Like, who cares if women are looking at him and flirting with him? Who cares, right? Because I’m so great. And then to feel insecure, I think, made me feel like, okay, it’s a double whammy. We call it the second arrow. I feel bad about something, and then I beat myself up for feeling bad about it. That shame of feeling insecure. There’s a craziness in there.

George Faller [00:06:04]:

And then in the negative cycle, your partner tells you you’re crazy and overreacting and too much too. So it feels gaslighting. It’s pretty nasty. So what we’re trying to say here is jealousy is not the problem. It’s just information. It’s just signals from your body. It’s what you do with it that becomes the problem, right? If you and your partner can’t handle it, if you have an insecurity and it opens up a doorway for vulnerability and your partner could reassure you, these jealousies become bonding moments. But if you try to share your insecurity in an angry tone and your partner gets defensive and tells you you’re too much, that becomes a big problem because you’re not able to repair. It creates more distance, more mistrust, more anxiety. And here we go. The negative cycle is gaining momentum.

Laurie Watson [00:06:52]:

I have heard. So know it’s like the theme of the week. I don’t know if you notice this, George, but as a therapist, certain themes just emerge in one week. All the people are talking about affairs or all the people are talking about sexual dysfunction. Somehow or another, the universe is saying, this is an important topic, and this week it’s about how people navigate relationships outside of their relationship and how do they talk about it with each other. And I think one of the things I’ve seen in this navigation is that we creep into these conversations. Maybe we say just drop a little bit, like, oh, so all the women there this weekend think you were hot, and it’s just a tiny little drop. I’m not bringing forward what I feel. And maybe your partner shrugs it off. Whatever. I don’t pay attention to anything like that. Right? That’s a good one. I don’t pay attention to that, which actually makes the partner feel worse. It’s like, well, if you’re not paying attention and all those women are paying attention to you, that sets you up for vulnerability, because one day we’re not going to be doing so good, and whop that woman who pays you attention? It’s going to matter. It’s going to go in, and if you don’t know this, now I feel even more anxious. It just all starts with little bits of conversations, and we don’t bring out our feelings necessarily. And by the time we get to a conversation about it, our partner is on edge. We’re feeling somewhat insecure. More insecure? Not somewhat, but more insecure. And so having the real conversation about what we’re feeling often goes badly because there’s this pent up emotion. Both people have kind of rubbed each other wrong a little bit already about this conversation.

George Faller [00:08:44]:

Exactly. So let’s use some tactics here.

Laurie Watson [00:08:47]:


George Faller [00:08:48]:

Now my brain wants to break these conversations down moment by moment. You have some insecurity that’s totally normal and natural. Your body’s picking up some kind of a threat. All right? So the mission is to help you with that threat. If the couple is united, that’s what they’re going to do. So to accomplish this successful mission, lori has to bring up her threat. But I think that’s already hard enough to do to bring it know. But now I’m going to stretch you a little bit more. I need you to bring it up, but bring it up in an intentional way that also is aware of my triggers that we tend to have in these conversations. You’ve got to learn to protect me while bringing up your insecurity. It’s like a double move, right. This might sound hard to a lot of people. With practice, it becomes easy and easier. How do you share but also be intentional in protecting your partner because it gives you the best chance of keeping your partner’s focus on you and giving you success in what you’re sharing. If you don’t, if you just race into sharing, it’s likely to hit the same minefield over and over again. That the negative cycle has plenty of practice doing. So I think what I’d like to do is we’ll come up with a scenario where we can role play this.

Laurie Watson [00:10:06]:


George Faller [00:10:06]:

Right. Where you could bring it up and you’ll see what it’s like when Lori brings it up, not protecting me, what kind of winds up happening versus her bringing it up and protecting me? And notice when she protects me in my response back, I got to learn how to protect her, too, because if I just respond without thinking about it, I’m probably going to hit very likely triggers within her, too. But the good news, it’s the same triggers over and over again. And as couples start to learn triggers of failure or rejection, they can start speaking to them proactively up front, and it changes the likelihood we’re going to be successful with the mission.

Laurie Watson [00:10:44]:

So one of the main things we got to start with is do we know our partner’s trigger? Like, just consciously can we name? My partner has often told me, hey, no matter what I do, it’s not enough for you. No matter what I do, I can’t make you happy. So if I know my partner feels like they fail me no matter what, that’s the trigger. That’s what’s going to go in when I bring something up. Probably this or many things they’re going to be triggered into a sense of failure, hopelessness about making me happy, all of that. They don’t do it right.

George Faller [00:11:20]:

Withdrawers tend to have the fear that they’re doing something wrong, they’re failing, they’re in trouble. That tends to be the trigger. So we want to protect them in conversations from that message. Pursuers tend to get their fear is that they’re going to be rejected. They’re going to be told they’re too much or too negative all the time. So, again, we want to, as a withdraw, is I want to learn to protect my partner in these conversations at the front end of it, to be able to say, Listen, I know your fear is that you’re too much and that this insecurity is totally normal. Anybody would feel that way if they pick up a threat. Right. Again, we’re being proactive in protecting our partner from their fears, which makes it a lot easier for everything else to take place.

Laurie Watson [00:12:08]:

Okay. I love that.

George Faller [00:12:10]:

Well, let’s come up with an example and work it through when we come back.

Laurie Watson [00:12:18]:

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George Faller [00:14:13]:

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George Faller [00:14:25]:

So let’s use an example working with a couple. We’re going to be the couple. I went away on a college reunion. 20 year reunion.

Laurie Watson [00:14:35]:

Oh, college reunions. I’m already feeling the threat, George. College reunions are hotbeds for affairs.

George Faller [00:14:42]:

Well, there you are.

Laurie Watson [00:14:43]:

They are, right.

George Faller [00:14:44]:

I went away and I am now back. And Lori wants to bring up something about what was happening for her. So here we.

Laurie Watson [00:15:00]:

Know. I really want to talk to you about this last weekend, because a lot of times I was trying to reach you and text you and stuff, and it was like you didn’t pick up. And normally you do, but I don’t know, Alicia was there, and I just started to feel like maybe you are just, I don’t know, so preoccupied by all your college budies. And I know you went drinking and out to dinner with them.

George Faller [00:15:30]:

We talked about this. You knew I was going to be drinking. I haven’t seen these people in 20 years. It’s only a weekend. I never go away with any of my friends. It’s just a good chance to reconnect with some of them. I wasn’t going to be too available. I mean, we talked about this our whole relationship. Have I ever done anything that’s warranted, like, you not trusting me or this is ridiculous.

Laurie Watson [00:15:57]:

Okay, it’s not that you’ve had an affair. It’s just like I think you don’t notice it when women flirt with you and you kind of flirt back and you don’t see how it turns them on.

George Faller [00:16:09]:

You weren’t even there. How would you know? Now you’re, like, imagining what was happening.

Laurie Watson [00:16:13]:

I wasn’t there, but yes, I remember your old girlfriend. I remember what she was like. And I remember you going out with the guys.

George Faller [00:16:21]:

My old girlfriend is not even in that.

Laurie Watson [00:16:23]:


George Faller [00:16:26]:

This is crazy. Too big of a deal out of nothing.

Laurie Watson [00:16:29]:

Their mindset is to pick up women. And I know some of them are married now, but it’s like I just.

George Faller [00:16:34]:

Think you get together. I don’t care about anyone else. I can’t control their lives. I only know what I’m doing. I don’t know why you’re stressing over this. This is not a big deal. This is nothing happened. You know nothing happened, and yet you just want to make a problem out of no problem.

Laurie Watson [00:16:49]:

I am not trying to make a problem out of no problem. I just want you to understand what I feel about it when you don’t pick up the phone and you’re away with all these people that I know there’s women there that you had sex with.

George Faller [00:17:01]:

Honey, we can talk about this later tonight, okay? I got to okay.

Laurie Watson [00:17:05]:


George Faller [00:17:08]:

All right. How do we do?

Laurie Watson [00:17:10]:

Sounds familiar, right? I mean, so many people are going to have had that conversation, especially, I think, over reunions. I really do think reunions are an interesting phenomena.

George Faller [00:17:23]:

Right? But look at the mission. Lori wanted help with this feeling of anxiety that she had and yet she didn’t really ask for my help. All I heard was her not trusting me, thinking I did something wrong. And I’m like, are you kidding me? And we’re done. It’s a failed attempt to have a conversation.

Laurie Watson [00:17:45]:

Yeah, you’re shut down. You can’t even hear my anxiety because you’re now under threat, trying to defend yourself, trying to say, look at nothing happened. I can’t defend against all these imaginations. I loved your line when you said I can’t control what other people do. That was so classic, so good.

George Faller [00:18:08]:

And I mean, what Laurie was doing was beautiful. She’s trying to get reassurance with her anxiety. That is what healthy relationships do. She just did it in a way that wasn’t aware of my triggers and she walked right into them. And this is what happens with couples over and over again. They walk into the same triggers and they get surprised that they get the same results. So we’re going to do this again where now mean we’ve had this fight a hundred times.

Laurie Watson [00:18:32]:


George Faller [00:18:33]:

How does Lori in finishing the mission again, she’s bringing up her vulnerability, which is a hard thing to do, but she’s adding this new move to it. She’s also going to try going to protect me as she’s doing that and let’s see if that changes the outcome.

Laurie Watson [00:18:50]:

Okay, I’m going to buckle in here and try to buckle up. Buckle up.

George Faller [00:18:55]:

I’m buckling up too, seeing what’s coming my way because I’m waiting for the.

Laurie Watson [00:18:59]:

Old familiar you’re waiting for the cycle to hit you. Okay. So, honey, I want to bring something up about last weekend and I am really glad that you went. I think it’s so important for you to connect with people that you’ve have a long history with. And I know you had a great time and we were fine at home, me and the kids. It was great. And I love the little snippets. When I did talk with you about what was happening and kind of seeing your joy about reconnecting was it’s beautiful. And I’m really glad you shared that with me. I did feel something that I want to tell you about and I don’t want to push you away and I don’t want to go into the same cycle that we go into. And I’m certainly not accusing you of having done something, but when you were gone and sometimes I would text and maybe you wouldn’t get back right away. And I just made up in my head that you’re with all those old people and maybe attractive women or seeing the old women that you used to see and maybe women that you had slept with and I don’t know, my body just I felt this sinking feeling in my stomach. And I know you love me. I know you’re committed to me. I know that. But I needed to share with you about this so that I could get that reassurance that you’re with me, and it’s okay. I know you’re attracted to other women. Of course. Duh. I mean, there’s attractive women out there. I’m not generally threatened by that. And I love that part of you that’s flirty. I love that. And I’m not wanting you to curtail that and to stop that. I just had these crazy imaginings that you were flirting with women and that they were wanting you and that it was tempting, and I couldn’t get settled.

George Faller [00:20:58]:

I appreciate you kind of talking about it and letting me know that you don’t think I did anything wrong, because I certainly didn’t do anything.

Laurie Watson [00:21:09]:

No, I’m not saying that.

George Faller [00:21:10]:

I hear in you there was a threat, you were anxious about something, and you just need my reassurance. And it’s a healthy thing to do to kind of talk about something, because if we don’t, then that kind of gets us into trouble. So I appreciate you bringing this up, and I just want to let you know that it’s normal to have those insecurities, and we have something really good and really special, and your brain just wonders what could happen. I mean, I feel that way sometimes, too. And you go back and you see your parents in California. You haven’t seen people, and I’m always there’s a part of me that’ll think, I wonder if somebody pops up and what would it’s? I don’t think that sucks, and I’m glad you shared that with me.

Laurie Watson [00:21:57]:

Okay. I’m glad. I’m glad that you’re open to this. It feels so much better than when we shut down. And I know sometimes when you’ve been gone, I can shut down, and it isn’t understandable to you. It’s like I’m actually wanting you more than ever and needing reassurance. But I feel bad for feeling insecure, and so then I just close off, and I don’t want to do that this time. I want to stay open to you, frankly. I want to have sex with you. That’s, like, deeply reassuring to me, and I do love what we have. Sometimes I get radically insecure.

George Faller [00:22:36]:

Yeah. And I’m sorry for my part, because when I feel that you don’t trust me, I get so defensive about that. It feels so unfair that I do minimize your fears and kind of make you feel like it’s your fault. I’m sorry for that because it is okay to get anxious. I want you to talk to me about your anxiety. I think it’s a healthy thing to do. We can deal with it together when you share it with me.

Laurie Watson [00:23:03]:

Yeah. And I want to share one more thing. It’s not just that I felt threatened by other women. It’s like, I like that part of you. I like that flirty self. I like that jovial, kind of extroverted, energetic part. It’s really attractive. And sometimes we’re walking the middle road, and we’re dealing with all our stuff, and sometimes we get in our negative cycle, and I don’t see that as often. And so some of my jealousy was not about other women. It was about you being the good time self. And I love that part, and I don’t see enough of it. And I think one of the things that I told myself is when he gets home, I want us to carve out time together so that we’re going off together and having space in our lives for that to come forward. Because I really, really love that about you. I want that part of you.

George Faller [00:24:07]:

And this is what I appreciate about you, that you think about these things. Because I can go on cruise control too often and not really think about it. And to hear that we can get into a rut where we just go through the motions too often and you want more of that me that might have came out, that’s a great thing. I think I want that too, and I want more of that from you. So I totally hear what you’re saying.

Laurie Watson [00:24:33]:

Okay, that feels better.

George Faller [00:24:35]:

All right.

Laurie Watson [00:24:37]:

I also think I need an emergency button. Like when I’m really feeling desperate and you’re away, I’m going to send you a certain emoji or bitmoji or something that says I need attention and I need it now. Could we figure out a signal or something? I promise I won’t overuse it.

George Faller [00:24:58]:

Can we just stop talking? Have sex now? Okay.

Laurie Watson [00:25:00]:


George Faller [00:25:02]:

Again, look at how different the outcome is when both people are aware each other’s triggers and they can kind of protect each person from that. Lori protected me from the message that I’m failing, that I’m not in trouble, that I’m a good guy, that loyal. Like, those words really help me stay my brain green and my heart open, where I can keep my focus on her and helping her with her anxieties and insecurities. The more I can tell her those are normal, they’re healthy. She’s sharing it. That’s the only thing she can do. She’s not too much. She’s doing a good job. It’s not chance that those conversations are going to go in the direction of safety and security.

Laurie Watson [00:25:45]:

And I just think, really, honestly, the lack of defensive tone to me was even more important than the words.

George Faller [00:25:53]:


Laurie Watson [00:25:54]:

You didn’t get defensive. Your tone didn’t get defensive, and you kind of kept open to me. That felt really good. And I think it was very natural to start to move into more vulnerability, of more telling you it was you I wanted, like, telling you all the good things, not just my jealousy, but how much I wanted you. And then there was just like, in that space of feeling connected, the woman was kind of generating solutions, hey, how about let us go away? Let’s find a little signal. This is what happens when people feel connected to each other. They can solve the problems.

George Faller [00:26:32]:


Laurie Watson [00:26:33]:

I mean, sometimes it starts the other way around. It’s like, hey, when you go away, I just need a little signal and I need you to answer no matter what. When I send you that signal and that is invulnerable, it doesn’t talk about the feelings of why that’s happened or what’s going on inside, and the person doesn’t feel wanted. I mean, I hope that that man felt the want and like, the celebration of all this good part of him. It wasn’t even necessarily a threat about another. It was about a longing that she had for him.

George Faller [00:27:04]:

Yeah, that’s the good news here, that if you can take a risk but also be intentional in protecting your partner, when you do it, you have the best chance of actually getting the help that you’re looking for. And as Laurie’s talking about, when you don’t have to put all those energies towards defensiveness, they can shift into the places of longing because that’s truly what’s driving it in the first place. There’s nothing more healthy than wanting to hold on to something that is so special, and that’s all Laurie’s looking for. It’s a beautiful thing. And that doorway into that beautiful thing comes through our insecurities. We got to learn to embrace them, to not pathologize them. That is really, again, what gives us so much more to connect with as a couple.

Laurie Watson [00:27:47]:

Awesome. Thanks for listening.

George Faller [00:27:49]:

Keep it hot, y’all.

Laurie Watson [00:27:51]:

Hey, guys. It’s gift giving time, and I have a great new gift to recommend to you. It’s called the lasting connection system. It’s kind of like a game, and it’s developed by one of our fellow efters, Dr. Rebecca Georgeson. It has detailed instructions, it sort of has conversation starters. And it’s this like, eight by four foot mat. Think about Twister. Very cool. That kind of moves you into deeper conversation and deeper connection with your partner. It’s also a way that we can communicate and resolve conflict. It’s two parts. Side one is communication. Side two is a system that helps you move from conflict to connection. And it’s just really neat. I think let’s put some time into ourselves, give each other the gift of connection. What could be better at this holiday season? Again the lasting connection system. You’ll find and we’ll have the link on our website so that you can also enjoy this new game. And there’s a coupon code foreplay 20 for, 20% off. We wish you peace, we wish you joy and we wish you connection.

George Faller [00:28:58]:

Call in your questions to the Foreplay question voicemail dial eight three three my. Foreplay. That’s eight three three my. The number four play and we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. I’ll content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor. This podcast is copyrighted by Foreplay Media.