I was home in bed, alone on a Friday evening. Exhausted from a difficult work week, I had turned down my friends offer of a night out. And now I was tucked in with a glass of red wine and a bowl of popcorn. It would have been perfect, if not for one crucial detail. My jealousy.
As I was flicking through Instagram the guy I had broken up with a couple of months earlier (and stupidly not blocked) showed up. A new fling in his arms and surrounded by a lush field of grapevines. Hashtag Bordeaux
I kindly reminded myself that he had been cheap, boring and way to vocal about his skepticism against global warming. On top of this his bedroom skills had been way to one dimensional. And despite some hints he just was “not a big fan of personal development”.
Even aware of these facts the pictures of lush vineyards and laughing strangers stung me. His happiness hurt.
See, I have always been a jealous person. I know it’s not a good quality. I try to hide it, to deny it. That’s probably why I hadn’t blocked him. An Instagram denial about my own shortcomings.
No one wants to be jealous. No one enjoys being jealous.
That night I lost control. As I had finished scrolling through Instagram I went over to Facebook and checked in on at least three different exes. My face was burning. I couldn’t eat the popcorn. My soul was hurting.
Thanks to my phone all those lives were too easily accessible. I saw newly born children, marriage vows and holiday pictures. I finally fell asleep, sad, jealous and exhausted.
My own history
My love life started out with a bit of a disaster. Me and my first real boyfriend got together when we were only 18, he was my first love. I was his first love. We stayed together for far too long. 9 years to be exact. During too many of those years, we were trying to figure out if we were for-ever material or if we should just move on.
And a part of us trying to figure out what to do with each other, involved falling in love with other people and being unfaithful.
Our destructive pattern eventually led us to breaking up. He is married now, with two kids, and yes, I am a friend with him on Facebook.
In most ways I have moved on. But jealousy have the ability to keep on lingering around. And it hurts.
Added to this mix we have the internet. A great place for connecting with likeminded, finding new cool restaurant, doing your grocery shopping on the bus ride home. A place of endless information. And for a jealous person like myself, a place of endless temptations. When I’m scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, I’m jealous of all the lives I’m never going to have.
On top of the Friday-night disaster, I had just started my excursion into online dating. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, considering my jealousy. Online dating in general and Tinder in particular is known for its fickle and multi-dating nature. Something I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to handle. But as you may have noticed by now, I have a liking for playing with burning flames.
You don’t need to be a genius to realize I had to do something different to survive in the modern-day dating world.
The only upside to being a raging jealous monster is all the methods I came up with to try and tame the monster. I’m the disease and the antidote wrapped into one half-skitzo person.
Waking up the next morning I knew exactly what would work. I wowed to be strict about my own jealousy rehab.
If you also have a jealousy problem, you have arrived to the right place.
And yes, these techniques work for dealing with your Tinder-fling connected jealousy as well as those long-lost lovers that you still follow on social media.
This is the first rule of being jealous. Don’t go there. Don’t look at Facebook and Instagram. Don’t stalk ex boyfriends or girlfriends. Don’t try and find out what your new fling is up to by constantly checking their Instagram account.
Unfollow and if necessary, Unfriend.
If it doesn’t bring happiness and satisfaction to your life, don’t bring it in. Put down the phone. Shut of the computer. Go out and meet a couple of friends, go for a run. Join a yoga class. The best periods of my life have been when I’m so focused and busy with everything else that I don’t really have time to look at social media.
1. Don’t give in
If you can’t handle this moderate approach you have to go cold turkey. Just like not everyone can drink moderately, not everyone can manage their social media presence without going crazy with jealousy. Just be honest with yourself.
The times I have been on a social media break has been freeing and wonderful, and frankly very productive.
Why do I get back on? Because I like to keep in touch with friends, I like to share pictures from fun moments in our life’s. Social media is a part of our community and thus hard to stay away from. But when it comes to taking care of your mental health you have to prioritize. After the Friday night disaster, I put myself on a month of social media celibacy.
2. Don’t Believe it
Social media doesn’t show peoples reality. People rarely publish their failures (but when they do, it’s always freeing and cool) What they do show is a carefully staged, diamond encrusted version of what their reality look like. All those beautiful pictures and inspirational quotes are the highlights. The insta-stories they publish is what they want you to think their life look like.
You turn on your phone and you see the tropical vacations, wild parties and expensive concerts. You don’t see all the hard work it took to reach that destination. It’s not the truth. It’s only a microscopic, carefully curated, part of the truth. We actually all know this. And yet our brain (particularly mine) believes it to be the truth.
When you’ve had an outbreak of unnecessary scrolling, gently remind yourself that everything you saw was just a dream.
As they say, the best revenge is having a good life. This holds true even when it comes to dealing with social media jealousy.
3. Have a good life
When things don’t go my way, that’s when jealousy gets a grip on me. Other people drink or smoke or eat. I just scroll. Thus the best way to deal with jealousy is to keep yourself occupied and fulfilled. When you notice yourself being in the grip of a jealous period, do a mental checkup. Are you happy? Do you follow your passions? If not, what’s stopping you?
Be brave. Do the things you love.
And when you check social media accept that you can’t have it all.
If you are not in a good place, don’t try Tinder or any other dating app. You will only obsess.
And when you are already in that place, waiting for a text message or wondering exactly what your new tinder-date is up too, turn your focus back to your passions and friends. Don’t forsake all those things that make you a great person and totally different from everyone else.
4. Use it as Fuel
Jealousy is ugly but it’s also natural.
In a relationship that wrenching gut feeling of uncertainty can guide you towards a real problem. It’s not jealousy if trust have been broken, then it’s just instinct.
But part of our jealousy is also unwarranted. We all want things we don’t have. That’s the human nature. That’s what made us build cities, and that’s what make us travel to the opposite side of the world to start a new life. We are adventurers and explorers. We want everything and on top of that some more, please.
Let the jealousy motivate you. Instead of being paralyzed watching what everyone else have. Ask yourself what you would want. If you could choose freely, who would you be? Be brave and go for that amazing career.
When it comes to dating, set a standard. If you are worried that your new guy sees other people, tell him you would prefer if you only date each other during the get-to- know-each other phase. If he turns down the offer, just move on. He has a lot of options, but so do you.
Don’t try to find out things by using Instagram or Facebook. Dive headfirst into the unknown. I promise you that you will survive.
It’s terrible how many choices the great guy you just started dating seems to have. Terrible. Just terrible. But if you practice gratitude you realize that you have an equal amount of choices. If it wasn’t for Tinder you may already have been married with that idiot neighbor your parents kept trying to match you with.
5. Practice gratitude
If your new guy chooses someone else instead of you, he was not the right one to begin with. Go out and find someone better.
Find gratitude in everything, life consist of a thousand small details. A lot of times we are so busy with achieving something (like falling in love), that we don’t see the small things that make up every day.
It was a big realization for me to understand that my jealousy was a way to gain control. We have all been there. Encouraged by well-meaning friends I have done my fair share of modern-day detective work and cyber stalking. Trying to find out the “true” character of the different guys I dated. But it turned out that when I got the information, I thought I wanted, the only result was more jealousy. Instead I remind myself to be grateful for this crazy time-period I live in, with all its flaws and wonderful possibilities.
A final note
Now it’s been two years since that horrible Friday night. I’ve done social media celibacy several times since. I’m still very restricted about what I allow myself to see. I have got my life together, with great friend’s, fun activities and a job I like. In contrast to my old boyfriend, my new one is a personal development dream. Following a random blog last week he even made me have a nipple orgasm for the first time ever.
Sure, I’m still jealous from time to time. I can’t have it all. But what I do have is things I’m passionate about. My gratitude diary has a prominent place on my night side table. I try to write something every day. It’s easy to focus on everything you don’t have, it’s hard to focus on what you have.