Q: My new boyfriend has strict rules about not being jealous. He doesn’t question where I am going or who I am with, and he expects the same from me. This makes me uncomfortable.
I have explained that it is necessary and natural to be concerned about the other's whereabouts, but he gets upset when I bring this up.
He has never given me reason not to trust him and he rarely goes out, but is this "don't ask" policy really a healthy idea for a relationship?
A: Is it healthy? This is, in large part, a matter of degree.
If, for example, you feel you can disappear for days on end without a peep from your boyfriend, then this may be a sign that he is just not that into you. But if, say, you go out with a group of your female friends and expect him to grill you about every detail, then you are overreacting.
Jealousy is a normal human emotion. But you seem to be confusing jealousy with love. You feel that because your boyfriend is not acting jealous, he does not love you.
This, of course, is the flip-flop of the usual dilemma. People often complain to me that their partner is needlessly consumed by jealousy and is convinced they are cheating when they are not.
I am not saying that it is unusual to want the man in your life to devote his attention to you instead of to someone else. There is indeed a certain normalcy to having feelings of possessiveness toward someone you love.
But people who are secure in their relationships and in their feelings of self-worth don’t struggle with enormous feelings of jealousy. The green-eyed monster rears its head most viciously in those who are insecure.
In some cases, a parents’ divorce or a bad breakup can make them feel abandoned or betrayed. They fear this will happen again.
A clue about your mind-set comes when you say you are often “concerned” as to your boyfriend’s whereabouts. You say he has given you no reason not to trust him. This indicates that the issue is yours. You should figure out why you feel so easily threatened.
And you should do it as soon as possible. Your insistence that you prove your mutual devotion by constantly keeping tabs on each other can erode the relationship. In this early stage, you needn’t be so eager to nail him down. You might be seeking a commitment he is not ready to make and instead drive him away.
He might be thinking “We recently met, so we will see how it goes.” It is destructive for you to insist that it go your way.
In past relationships, have you shown a similar pattern of wishing to stir up jealous feelings? If so, I suggest you spend time understanding this aspect of yourself, because it is likely to continue.
Dr. Gail’s Bottom Line: Jealous feelings, though a part of human nature, are not proof of love. A jealous partner doesn’t necessarily love you more, and a non-jealous partner doesn’t love you less.
Dr. Gail Saltz is a psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital and a regular contributor to “Today.” Her first book, “Becoming Real: Overcoming the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” was published in 2004 by Riverhead Books. It will be available in a paperback version in June 2005. Her latest book, "Amazing You," helps parents deal with preschoolers' questions about sex and reproduction. It will be published in May 2005. For more information, you can visit her Web site, .
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this column should not be construed as providing specific medical or psychological advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist or psychotherapist. Copyright ©2005 Dr. Gail Saltz. All rights reserved.