Never Feel Guilty
First things first: you should never feel guilty for being successful. But there are times that you will - whether it’s around your friends, your family or your partner. Caroline Brealey, founder of London matchmaking service Mutual Attraction, suggests sitting down and working out where these feelings are coming from. “Is it because you’re enjoying your job more? Or are you making more money and being applauded by people in your industry? Remind yourself how hard you’ve worked for that success and remember that loved ones around you should be supportive and happy for you. They should be encouraging good feelings towards your success. Ask yourself why you feel guilty and then talk to your partner about it.”
Rachel Lloyd, relationship expert for eHarmony, concurs and says it’s best to talk through these feelings with your partner, being careful to remain diplomatic throughout. “If your partner feels ‘less than’ about your success, it’s best to talk things through. Be careful not to be patronising and talk down to them. Be transparent about your goals and stress that you want them to share in the fruits of your success in order to build a great life together. Perhaps you could offer to help them with their own career plans, too.”
Get To The Root Of Any Jealousy
If you’re getting a negative vibe from your partner in regards to your success, Caroline says it’s important to get to the bottom of what’s causing this harmful energy. “It's natural to feel a little jealous from time to time, but negativity is a different ball game. If your partner has expressed that they're jealous of your career and success, talk it through with them and try to get to the root of why they're jealous.”
Caroline suggests that this negativity could actually have little to do with you and could actually get to the bottom of any feelings of insecurity they may be feeling about their own career and progress in life. “Perhaps they're struggling with their own career or feeling like they can't keep up with you financially. Communication is key and you should encourage your partner to open up and talk about their own career and aspirations whilst you support them in achieving their goals. Explain how important their support is, and when they give you any form of help or congratulate you on your success, acknowledge how much that means to you.”
Rachel adds it’s important to remember that, as cheesy as it sounds, money can’t buy happiness. “Remind them that a financial discrepancy is just that – it doesn't undermine any deeper level compatibility you've fostered together. Nor does a higher salary give someone more intrinsic value as a person. What’s more, being in a meaningful relationship with someone who brings you happiness is the most valuable thing – you can’t put a price on that.”
Address Tension In A Calm Environment
“The most important thing to do is not compare careers and financial gains,” says Rachel. “Remember, it's not a competition, you're there to support each other. It's more likely that their jealousy is stemming from a deeper-rooted issue, such as a fear of not being good enough. Calmly sit down and explain that regardless of your respective careers, your relationship is on a level playing field in every aspect.”
Caroline agrees, suggesting giving the conversation a positive spin. “It’s always good to discuss the future and where you both see things going. Bring in your success and determine where that might take you both, making sure that the direction it’s going in suits both of you.”
Encourage Your Partner
If the underlying reason for their jealousy is dissatisfaction in their own career, it’s important to make your partner feel encouraged to follow their own dreams – but without being patronising.
“Understand their own motivations and explore together how they can achieve their goals. If you're particularly worried about being condescending, play the conversation through in your head first from their perspective – would you feel helped or inferior to? If so, readjust the script,” says Rachel.
If they agree to start working towards their own career goals, then Caroline suggests that you “celebrate the milestones you’re both working towards.”
Don’t Let Negativity Rule Your Relationship
We all know the feeling of being jealous of someone. But the only way to use that jealousy to positive effect is to harness those feelings and use them to better yourself. Otherwise, it could indicate something far more ominous for your relationship.
“If your partner is being negative about your career and success, this is a warning light,” says Caroline. “Some people will never be happy earning or being perceived as 'less successful' than their partner and this creates an unhealthy relationship.
“You want to be in a relationship where someone raises you up, encourages and motivates you to be the best you can be - someone who backs your decisions and doesn't hold you back. If someone cannot handle you being more successful, what does the future hold for you both?”
And If You’re The Jealous One?
You need to get a hold of your feelings and work out yourself why your feeling that way. Rachel says that you can’t beat yourself up for feeling jealous – but it’s rather how you deal with those feelings that’s most important: “Providing you broach how you’re feeling in a tactful way, working through this could actually be an opportunity to build deeper intimacy in your relationship.”
Caroline agrees that you shouldn’t criticise yourself too much, and instead work towards resolving those negative feelings with positivity. “Often, we are too hard on ourselves and fail to recognise our own successes, so spend some time thinking about and writing down everything that you have achieved. Sometimes a confidence boost is all you need.”
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