Jealousy And Social Media

Anonymous Question Series:

Q: My husband gets jealous about Facebook likes, emojis, and comments I get from other men who are just friends. How do you recommend dealing with such situations?

A: 

The quick answer: Recognize your husband’s jealousy is rooted in fears and insecurities and avoid taking responsibility for his emotions.

Jealousy is a toxic form of control and is never a healthy or appropriate response. While it is important to respect and love your spouse, to hear out their concerns, you never should take responsibility for his emotional immaturity — his jealousy. What I mean by this last comment is that you should never feel you have to change because your spouse guilts you, scares you, or uses logic to convince you to change. Even in the case of emotional or physical infidelity, jealously is toxic and not healthy.

It is natural to experience hurt, pain, sadness, maybe even a little jealousy, but jealousy is a manifestation of other serious emotional issues. Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D., addressed these mental health issues well in her article "What's Really Behind Jealousy, and What to Do About It".

Research has linked several traits to jealousy:

  • Low self-esteem

  • Neuroticism: a general tendency to be moody, anxious and emotionally unstable

  • Feelings of insecurity and possessiveness

  • Dependence on your partner: Codependency

  • Feelings of inadequacy in your relationship

  • An anxious attachment style

Take courage in your integrity. You get to be you! Some married individuals require or expect their spouses to "unfriend" old friends of the opposite sex and past boyfriends/girlfriends and share social media and emails. This is inappropriate. Some people agree to do this because it seems to make logical sense, and they see it as a form of "honoring" their spouse. So, they agree to go along with it. Sure, absolutely, if you personally decide it's best for you to avoid interacting with others of the opposite sex, you get to make that decision. But it is not loving nor healthy of your spouse to make you feel obligated to comply.

Elder Holland made it clear that this immature jealousy and tantrum is not appropriate (refer to my post: Marital Myth of Communication):

"The second segment of this scriptural sermon on love in Moroni 7:45 says that true charity — real love — 'is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity.' Think of how many arguments could be avoided, how many hurt feelings could be spared, how many cold shoulders and silent treatments could be ended, and, in a worst-case scenario, how many breakups and divorces could be avoided if we were not so easily provoked, if we thought no evil of one another, and if we not only did not rejoice in iniquity but didn’t rejoice even in little mistakes.

Temper tantrums are not cute even in children; they are despicable in adults, especially adults who are supposed to love each other. We are too easily provoked; we are too inclined to think that our partner meant to hurt us—meant to do us evil, so to speak; and in defensive or jealous response we too often rejoice when we see them make a mistake and find them in a fault. Let’s show some discipline on this one. Act a little more maturely. Bite your tongue if you have to. 'He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city' (Proverbs 16:32). At least one difference between a tolerable marriage and a great one may be that willingness in the latter to allow some things to pass without comment, without response." —Jeffery R. Holland, How Do I Love Thee?

Respond with love and boundaries, don't loose who you are, have fun and be you. It's not easy, but he needs to learn how to be an adult and a loving companion. You can't force him, but you can take comfort in knowing you get to be you.

One final thought. If he is making such an issue over "likes" that you feel it had to be addressed with me, I am going to assume this behavior is not limited to social media. I would encourage you to read and become familiar with emotional blackmail

Additional Resources: 

Here is a summary of the book: "Emotional Blackmail" patterns  

Find the full book here: Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You 

Emotional Blackmail website: Out of the F.O.G.

Self-Assessment of Emotional Abuse: Emotional Abuse 

A Conversation on Spouse Abuse