St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, and I hope the “Luck of the Irish” is with you as we round out the first quarter of 2014.  Thousands of gallons of green beer will be consumed this week, and millions will don green garments to celebrate the occasion.  But as a Certified Communication and Relationship Coach, I wanted to grab this opportunity to discuss the “dark” side of “going green.”

I’m talking about jealousy here—an emotion that sends a whopping one-third of couples to counseling—and a major hot button for both men and women. It’s a no-brainer that jealousy breeds insecurity, and insecurity can rattle the foundation of any loving relationship. Here are my thoughts on this topic, along with tips on how to tame the green-eyed monster and keep it from sabotaging your relationship…

The real reasons behind your man’s wandering eye—and why you shouldn’t get upset or feel threatened by it (he can’t help it…honestly!).

Ladies, have you ever caught your significant other engaging in what I call “window shopping?”  Say you’re out together in public and see him turn his head when an attractive woman walks by. For many women, the standard practice is to immediately confront their other half and make him feel as though he has just committed a crime.  Often, this is followed by some snide remarks about the woman being admired:  “She looks like a slut,” “Those boobs are fake you know,” or “I guarantee you she bleaches her hair.” The comments may vary, but the intent is the same: to make your significant other feel like he’s done something wrong.

I disagree!  Trust me, he’s just being a man and responding to a visual object that caught his eye.

Just because men look at other women, it doesn’t mean they want to hook up with them!  And it’s not meant to be disrespectful to you! By genetic code, guys simply react to visual stimuli, and when we see something we like visually, we look. Have you ever gotten on your partner’s case for looking at a cool car that just drove by?  I didn’t think so.

When the green-eyed monster takes hold, it’s so easy to forget that your significant other is with you because he loves you.  The sexy, beautiful, or classy woman he just admired can’t even begin to compete with the bond you’ve already established with your man. The emotional connection you have with your partner is far deeper than a quick look directed towards another woman. Remember, your man is with you because he loves you. 

It’s not just a guy thing! Women check out other guys, too, but here’s why/how they can get away with it.

Almost every man has been accused at some time or another of ogling the opposite sex, but few women receive the same complaint from men. Why is that? Researchers report that women look at men’s bodies as much as, and sometimes more than, men look at women’s. Yet, because women have peripheral vision capabilities that are far superior to men’s, they rarely get caught!

When the shoe’s on the other foot and another man is checking out your partner.

Guys, just as you check out other women, don’t be surprised if you see other men giving your partner the once over. When you find yourself in this situation, how do you typically react? Instead of feeling threatened or jealous, I say you should be proud that others find your significant other attractive.

Keep in mind that women are so used to being pursued by men, and they have the amazing ability to block out their surroundings—to the point that they are often oblivious to guys admiring them.  And once a woman does notice she’s being observed, she’ll almost always turn to her partner and show him some type of affection.

Bask in it! And don’t forget that while women do enjoy having some attention paid to them, it’s the emotional connection they have with their partner that really touches them.  Women want to reassure their significant others that they love them and only want to be with them.

Story Time: Taming the Green-Eyed Monster in ways that will cement your relationship

Ladies First: Let me share a personal story with you. My significant other and I were out in public one afternoon, walking side-by-side, when a super sexy woman approached.  Without consciously thinking about it, I noticed her. I was trying to be cool and not let my lady see that I was checking the other woman out. As most guys do, I looked at her for a few seconds and then immediately looked away as if I had never seen her. And as most guys do, I repeated this process a few more times before the attractive female passed by.

I was blown away by what happened next.  Instead of feeling a shot to my ribs, or hearing, “What the hell are looking at?” my significant other remarked, “That woman was very attractive, wasn’t she?”  My jaw almost hit the ground, and I replied, “What did you say?” “That woman was attractive, don’t you think?” she repeated.

What happened next was so amazing to me.  In a split second, I had already forgotten the woman I’d admired, and my attention was instantly focused back on my partner.  Not only was my focus back where it should have been, but I found myself wanting to hug my lady, grab her hand, and give her a big kiss!  Did she really think that the woman I’d been checking out was attractive? I have no clue. What I can tell you is that because she didn’t make me feel like a criminal, and I was able to just be a man and do a little “window shopping,” I wanted to immediately find a place to make love to her.  All of my energy had been transferred from the unknown woman back to my significant other in a matter of seconds—and I felt closer than ever to her.

A quick sidebar note of caution for guys: Noticing attractive women that cross your path is fine. But staring for long periods of time, and mentally “undressing” and/or “making love” to them is not okay!

Ladies, your man is going to look at other women whether you’re with him or not.  Acknowledge it, draw attention to it, and see how fast your man shifts his focus back to you.  If he doesn’t, it may be a sign that some walls are blocking the connection between the two of you. But if he does, as he should, watch out. You may want to prepare yourself for some passion!

And Now a Heads Up for Guys: A couple of years ago, Sam came to me looking for help with a major jealousy problem he was having. His wife, Melissa, was a high-level executive who had to attend a lot of social events as part of her job, and Sam often joined her. When Melissa schmoozed with other men in the room, Sam’s jealousy would flare up— especially when they appeared engaged in a deep conversation with his wife and would stand too close to Melissa, or would lightly touch her arm.  By the end of each event, Sam would be in a terrible mood, and the two would often fight.

Once Sam was able to explain to his wife how vulnerable he felt at these events, I helped the two of them come up with a special “game” they could play that would put a positive spin on Sam’s jealousy.  Now, whenever Sam and Melissa are mingling and speaking to other people at social functions, both take the time to make frequent eye contact with each other from across the room. And whenever they find themselves passing or standing fairly close to each other, they make a point of touching…a brush on the arm or a quick hand squeeze. This reassures Sam that no matter who Melissa is talking to, Sam knows who she’s going home with. Using this strategy has not only helped Sam overcome his feelings of jealousy, the couple has discovered that their flirtatious behavior at social events always makes them eager to get home!

Above all, remember this

Of course, if you find yourself in a situation where you’re feeling jealous, you should tell your mate why you’re feeling the way you are—and this holds true for both men and women. Talk about the situation, then reinforce your feelings for each other by reassuring your partner how much you love him or her, and how handsome/beautiful/hot/sexy you think he or she is. That way, you turn a potentially volatile situation into something you can both feel good about.

I wish all you couples a Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and may you always consider your relationship a “pot of gold” at the end of a beautiful rainbow!

Coach Todd