I have never been a particularly jealous person – and then I met my fiancé. And we lived in different countries. Months after meeting him, I relocated to his country, but we were still attending universities in different cities and could only see each other on weekends. Then our graduate degrees took us to different countries yet again, and we could only see each other every 3 months or so. We’ve had plenty of tearful airport good byes, lonely nights and counting the days until we finally could be together again.
Over those years, we had plenty of opportunity to deal with jealousy. Every relationship has to deal with jealousy at some point, but it is a lot harder when you go weeks or months without seeing your partner and your only source of information about what’s going on in your life is them. Knowing full well that you would probably never find out if they were to cheat on you or even have an affair does crazy things to your mind. Or at least it did to mine. The most important piece of advice I have is: Don’t stay silent, talk to your partner about how you feel. We agreed that we would not do things that made each other uncomfortable, and everyone will draw those lines somewhere else. Luckily, we were both quite happy to stay within the lines we imposed on each other, but if your wishes clash, try and work out a compromise.
There are some things, other than making sure you are aware of how your partner feels, that have helped me. Even though I could only meet new friends of his months after him, he made sure to tell me in detail about anyone he met (especially girls), and I knew he told them about me to the point of chewing everyone’s ear off. I have met many of his friends over skype before I met them in person, and the first thing everyone always told me was “oh god he won’t shut up about you, nice to finally meet you!”. It felt good to know that I was a part of his life among his circle of friends, but also to actually be able to get to know them across the distance. Putting a face to the name made me much less likely to worry about specific individuals, and that helped a lot.
Know how dedicated your partner is. If you are separated from your husband or wife, this might be a lot easier. In our case, we were already engaged, and had solid plans for starting a life together once we could finally be in the same country and city. If you are worried about your partner being unfaithful, would they really put your relationship and your future together on the line? Sometimes, you might not be sure. That is absolutely normal. I have spent nights going through every single picture of a night out, trying to spy any attractive girls he had not told me about. It is easier when you can keep in close touch, but time zones or the type of events might not always allow for regular phone updates on how things are going. If you going to parties makes your partner very worried, maybe you can meet your friends in a different setting. Little adjustments can often make a big difference.
I you feel jealous of someone near them, talk about it! Maybe they will be perfectly happy to meet that person less often, or not alone, or in a different setting. Maybe they forgot to tell you that pretty girl or handsome guy is actually happily married/has super annoying habits/something else that will make the irrational jealousy go away. Some people find “replacement” partners, and that is a tough one. Ever heard of the term “work husband/wife”? That colleague your partner spends a lot of time with at work and with whom he or she just works really well as a team? A similar thing can happen in long distance relationships. Many people find a girl or guy near them that they work really well with, and even though they are “just friends”, they hand out a lot more than they do with other friends, do many things together without other friends (alone), or even go on quasi-dates (see a movie alone, go to a romantic restaurant…).
It can be tempting to find a “replacement partner” while you or your spouse are away, but don’t. Missing them as hard, so hard, but replacing them is likely to make them feel jealous, unneeded, and eventually, it might break you apart. It is fine to have close friends, but if that close friend is someone you might date if you were single, then maybe you are keeping them close as a second option or replacement partner rather than just a friend. Be honest with yourself, and mindful of how your partner feels about it. I’ve always found that the more information you share, the easier it is not to get jealous. So make sure you mention that hot guy/girl who is new at your university or place of work! Be the one to tell your partner about them, and make sure to say why they are not as pretty, smart or wonderful as your partner is. This will make them feel a lot safer than that person appearing next to you on a random social media photo.
Jealousy is difficult in any relationship, and is easily blown out of proportion when your partner is so far way. Keeping in close touch, checking in regularly on how you feel about the people and activities in each other’s lives, and most importantly, setting and respecting emotional boundaries can help you get through it. Good luck!