Dating 101: Why Do People Get Jealous?

Trying to understand the opposite sex can be a frustrating experience. There is an undeniable desire for a strong connection between a guy and a girl. Yet oftentimes it seems like there is a huge gap between the two of them.

This gap has caused confusion, awkwardness, frustration, hurt feelings and many a sleepless night. I have been asked hundreds of questions about dating over the years. Here are four questions that both guys and girls alike seem to struggle with ranging from jealousy to long-distance relationships to keeping relationships alive.

Why do People Get Jealous?

Jealousy is the kind of emotional disease that strikes both sexes.

Stephen asked: “Why does my girlfriend get so jealous when I talk to other girls?”

Kayla asked: “Why does my boyfriend get jealous when I’m just talking to other guys?

The root of most jealousy is insecurity.  Most often people get jealous because they lack the confidence to believe that they are good enough for their partner. So they are continually suspicious and tend to overreact to the slightest things.

So, What Can you do?

Do your part to not give them reasons to feel jealous. While it is not wrong to talk to friends of the opposite sex when you are dating, if it causes your boyfriend or girlfriend to be jealous, it might be good to examine how you talk to them. If someone is flirting with you, you can still be polite, but you don’t have to flirt back. You shouldn’t make special efforts to impress other people of the opposite sex while you are dating.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend does react jealously to something you do, address it soon after it happens. It’s always good to seek clarity when something comes up that’s a threat to your relationship. Assure them that they are the only person you are interested in and encourage them by telling them why you have chosen them. Then demonstrate your commitment in how you treat them.

This will help build their trust and self-esteem.

As they grow to understand how much they mean to you, they will naturally begin to trust you.

How Can I Keep Our Relationship Alive?

The beginning of a new relationship can be so exciting.  You get butterflies. You are learning new things about each other every time you are together. You can’t stop thinking about them.  But the reality is the butterflies won’t last forever.
Paul asked: “Do girls get bored in a relationship? My girlfriend used to be all flirty and into me, but now that we’ve been going out for a while, that’s all stopped. Is that normal?”

The situation you are in, Paul, could be a result of a couple of issues. First, it is normal for flirting to die down gradually after being in a relationship for a while. Flirting is usually a tool to get into a relationship, rather than to maintain it. Most relationships grow past that stage as the two people get to know each other better.

Perhaps you have never been in a relationship that has moved past this flirty stage. Don’t assume she’s not interested in you. Perhaps she is just more comfortable now.

However, perhaps you are right and she is getting bored. So have a talk with your girlfriend. Ask her what she’s really feeling. Have you let the relationship become predictable and boring?

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut

It takes some work to keep a relationship fresh and interesting. This is true whether you are married or just dating. It’s so easy to get stuck doing the same things over and over. Most people spend most of their free time on the couch in front of the television and call it a life. They lose sight of the fact there are so many different and exciting options of how to spend their time.

This is why people are sometimes drawn to other people outside of their dating relationship. New people are more interesting. Once you get to know someone and all their faults, the excitement can fade and the relationship can get stuck in a rut!  Then sometimes the desire for something or someone more interesting, kicks in.

Ideas to Keep Your Relationship Interesting

But you don’t have to get stuck in a rut! There are so many things you can do together to breathe new life into what might currently feel boring.

You might want to surprise your girlfriend by going with her to new places, experiencing new things, and talking about interesting topics. Spend time with other people, and find out what they enjoy doing. Take up a hobby or volunteer together. Just remember, any successful relationship takes effort from both people.

Can a Long-Distance Relationship Work Out?

There is no black and white answer to this question, but I do have some tips.

Ben asked: I have a girlfriend who lives about 120 miles from me. Will this work out? We already say that we love each other. I’d love to know what you think.

To begin with, Ben, there are a lot of people who tell each other they love each other, and then break up the next week. So just because you say you love each other, doesn’t determine whether or not you will be successful in a long-distance relationship.
There have been many long-distance relationships that have been very successful. But there have been many, many more that haven’t lasted. There is no question it will be difficult for both of you.

Challenges of Long-Distance Relationships

I’d be curious if your separation is temporary or long-term. If it’s temporary, you’ll need to be committed to keeping in contact with each other. Long-term separation is much harder because many of the best parts of a relationship come out of time when you’re able to be together.

On the flip side, being apart makes it possible to hide some of the weaknesses each of you would bring into a face-to-face, everyday relationship. It is much easier to only show your good side to the other person across the miles and that’s not realistic.
Long-distance relationships can also be driven by fantasies about how great the relationship would be if you could just be together, but you need to actually be together to know if you could really work long-term.

Find Time to Be Together

You will need to see each other in person from time to time in order to help keep the relationship moving forward. If you can, make plans to see each as often as possible. But more than anything, communicate the expectations you have for the relationship with each other so you’re both on the same page.

Is it True Love When It Hurts?

Ashlee asks a good question, but the answer requires us to look at WHY it hurts.

Ashlee asked: Is it truly love when you will do anything for the person you care about even when it hurts you in the process?

There are two ways to answer this question depending on how the person you love, loves you in return.

First, if you are in a relationship that is mutually caring, supportive and you both work to put the others needs before your own, then real love would be willing to make sacrifices for the other. God showed us the ultimate example of this kind of love. In the Bible Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

However, if the one you think you love is demanding things that hurt you or violate your own value system, the answer is no, love should not hurt you. Love gives, it does not take. Love heals, it does not hurt. Love builds up the other person, does not tear them down.

Why do I put up with it?

If you are in this type of relationships, you’re probably wondering why it is that you’re doing what you’re doing…why are you putting up with hurtful behavior from your boyfriend, and still calling it love?

Unfortunately, many stuck in selfish and destructive relationships have never had real love shown to them. Many of us are so hungry for attention or what we feel is love, we are willing to do anything, or put up with anything in order to get what we think is love.

There are times when the person who is demanding we violate our own value system simply to please themselves, will show signs of changing, or even glimpses they really care about the other person. This is what makes it so confusing. The person being hurt thinks if they just love their partner more…then they will stop the hurting. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Besides, this isn’t love, no matter how much you feel it is.

If you find yourself doing things with your bf/gf that violate your own value system, get out of the relationship. You need to protect yourself.  Talk to someone you can trust about what’s happening in the relationship and let them help you get free. You can read more about what is an abusive dating relationship here.

TheHopeLine Team
For over 30 years, TheHopeLine has been helping students and young adults in crisis. Our team is made up of writers and mental health professionals who care deeply about helping others.
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