I am eighteen years old, and the problem is that I am extremely jealous, so much so that I don’t want my girlfriend to leave the house for fear that others will see her. I know that it could be insecurity or mistrust, but knowing that she might be socializing with people much better than I am, physically speaking, I feel a lot of fear and anger that I take out on her. Is this something that can change? What do I need so I won’t feel like this?

Dear Friend,

You know the causes of your jealousy—insecurity and mistrust—and you know the emotions that result from your jealousy—fear and anger—, but you don’t know how to stop being jealous. You have, however, taken the first step, which is realizing how negatively your jealousy affects you and your relationship. So yes, you can change, but it will take hard work and time. However, if you don’t change, you are doomed to have troubled romantic relationships for the rest of your life.

If your girlfriend were the one telling us her case, we would quickly tell her to get away from you as fast as she could. Why? Because the way you are treating her is controlling and manipulative. She can never have a loving, trusting, intimate relationship with someone who doesn’t trust her.

She is not the problem. The problem is your critical inner voice that constantly compares you with other guys. The inner voice tells you that the other guys are better looking, smarter, stronger, and they dress better, too. The voice makes you doubt that your girlfriend will continue to choose you, when she could choose from the other guys. So you try to keep her from having the chance to spend time with those guys, believing that the only way to keep her is to isolate her. You could become emotionally unstable if you let that kind of thinking continue. Your need to control your girlfriend and isolate her is extremely unhealthy and potentially dangerous for her and for you.

You won’t like this recommendation, but you would be better off to work on your own emotional issues before you try to have a romantic relationship with any girl. If you are going to college, there may be a counseling department that can help you deal with your insecurity and doubts about yourself. If not, a professional counselor would be a great option.

You must fight the inner voice. It is lying to you. It tells you that if you don’t have this girl, you’ll never get another girlfriend. It tells you that you aren’t good enough for girls to like you. And it tells you that the only way to keep a girl is to take away all her other options. All lies!

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”(1) This is the key to help you take the next steps. Begin a personal relationship with Christ, and let Him strengthen you and give you wisdom.

We wish you well,

1 Php 4:13