What should you do if someone is flirting with your partner and it’s making you jealous?

What a great question! Jealousy is a very common challenge in relationships. Everyone experiences it at some point, so you’re definitely not alone. It’s great that you’re thinking about the best way to deal with the situation, rather than just reacting! That can create unnecessary drama.

Calm communication should help you through this difficult situation. It’s important to remain respectful and try not to get angry or aggressive.

Most people know there is a difference between flirting and being friendly, but there’s no clear line between the two.

It’s easy to mistake one for the other, even if the person doesn’t mean it that way. For some, flirting is a way to figure out whether someone wants to date or have sex with them. They’re testing the waters to see what kind of response they will get. For others, flirting is a way to connect with other people, to have fun, or to make the other person (or themselves!) feel good.

Take a moment to think about where your feelings of jealousy are coming from.

Jealousy isn’t a “bad” emotion, so there’s no reason to feel like you need to get rid of it! Instead, channel your feelings into something else: journal, dance, draw, go for a run, or do something else that lets you express yourself or that releases energy.

Next, talk about your feelings of jealousy with your partner.

It’s possible they haven’t even noticed what’s going on! Don’t accuse them of anything. Instead, use “I” language, like, “When Abby flirts with you, I feel a bit insecure.” Or: “I feel jealous when Bryan gets super friendly with you.”

Together, you and your partner can hopefully come up with a plan to handle the situation and help you feel more comfortable.

For example, maybe your partner can respectfully let the person know that they should dial it back a bit. If it’s clear that the person is trying to figure out whether your partner is interested in them, or doesn’t change their behavior after your partner talks to them, your partner can clearly and respectfully tell them that they’re not interested. Remember: communication, trust and respect are key to making any relationship work.

Hopefully, your partner and you can be a team and work together to solve the problem. If you still feel insecure or jealous of people who are flirting or being friendly with your partner, you may have to work on yourself or the relationship to overcome this challenge. Are you actually upset that someone was flirting with your partner, or is it that your partner was flirting back? Is there anything else going on in your relationship to make you feel insecure? For example, maybe your partner has been busy, so you haven’t gotten to spend much time together recently. Talk to your partner about what they can do to make you feel loved (and vice versa!), and come up with a plan that works for both of you.

Sometimes, jealousy can be a red flag that trust is missing from your relationship.

Think about whether you really trust your partner. If you don’t, is there a reason for that? It’s possible that you have a good reason to not completely trust them. Maybe they’ve broken your trust before, or the relationship is new and you just don’t know them that well yet. It’s also possible that you’re dealing with your own insecurities and questions about whether you’re attractive, lovable, or “good enough” for your partner. Take some time to think about where your emotions are coming from, and (do you sense a pattern here?) have an open, honest conversation with your partner. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe talking to your partner about these things, think about what that means about your relationship. Talk about how you’re feeling with someone else you trust.

Remember that while it’s good to be open about what you need and want in a relationship, it’s not ok to try to control your partner’s behavior. That’s a big sign that trust is missing from your relationship. Learn more about healthy relationships.

If you have more questions and you’re 10-22 years old in NYC, stop by the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center to talk to one of our therapists or health educators. They can talk more with you about healthy relationships, help you work through what you’re feeling, and help you come up with communication strategies. Our services are free, non-judgmental, and confidential.