The new year brings with it a number of personal revelations – often to do with health, work or money.
Alternatively – after seeing people getting engaged over the Christmas break, or loved-up couples celebrating on Instagram – you may even be questioning your relationship right now.
Perhaps you want what another couple has? Or you feel like you’re missing out in some way?
If this sums up your general mood at the moment, it’s likely you’re experiencing relationship envy.
Sexologist and relationship coach Ness Cooper explains this phenomenon in a little more detail.
She says: ‘Envy generally is when we see something others enjoy and we want it – it might be that another person’s relationship looks better to you than yours.’
This does, however, differ to jealousy – which is often when we feel our relationship is threatened.
But Ness points out that both of these emotions are completely natural.
‘It’s worth noting that jealousy and envy are two different emotions that can come together or separately,’ she adds.
‘We often place them together, as we’re regularly told that they are bad emotions and then this puts them into a category of things we shouldn’t speak about.
‘But in fact, they’re both very natural. We shouldn’t avoid these emotions, rather we should look to healthy ways of expressing them and getting through them.’
If you think you’re currently experiencing relationship envy, this is how you can address it and move forward.
Communicate your concerns with your partner
If you feel that another relationship looks better than yours, Ness suggests chatting to your partner about it – rather than letting it fester.
She says: ‘It may be hard to bring up this type of conversation, but when you do, you’ll feel better about it and often two heads are better than one when finding a solution.
‘Not talking about it can lead to it filtering out negatively in other ways, and may affect positive things you have going for you in your relationship.’
Be mindful of what you have
Reflecting on the positives you have in your relationship can help to ground your emotions.
‘If you start reflecting on any negatives, take a moment to think about how you and your partner have resolved similar situations in the past,’ adds Ness.
Also why not try making a list of all the good things about your relationship – rather than dwelling only on the negatives.
Bring new positives into your relationship
‘There is some truth to the notion that if you start acting positively, your overall life can feel more positive,’ adds Ness.
‘If you’re feeling other relationships are better than yours, then do something positive with your partner to remind yourself that you can have a good relationship, too.’
This might be planning a special date night or taking up a shared hobby together.
Ask yourself if something is actually missing
‘Envy is rooted in a feeling that you are lacking something – something you see in someone else,’ explains psychotherapist and coach Andre Radmall.
‘You may be feeling dissatisfied with some aspect of your own relationship.’
So it’s a good idea to ask yourself what part of your relationship, specifically, you feel this deficit is in.
Andre adds: ‘Then you can work out if this is a real issue that you need to speak to your partner about. It could be that you are simply comparing apples and pears. In other words, the other person’s relationship is not better than yours, it’s just different.
‘We live in a culture of comparison where feelings of envy can easily be based on comparison.’
So keep this in mind, too.
Question the reality of your comparison
‘There will always be a couple that’s better looking, richer, more successful and happier than you,’ says Neil Wilkie, a relationship expert, psychotherapist and author.
But he stresses that it’s important to understand the reality of the relationship you’re envious of – and to think about how much of an appearance is just on the surface.
After all, you never really know what goes on behind closed doors.
Neil adds: ‘They may have had the perfect wedding, but are they truly happy under the surface and behind-the-scenes?
‘We can never achieve a perfect life with gleaming white teeth, a dust-free house and wonderful sex on tap. Do not chase the mirage.’
Struggling to see the good? Get some help
Ness adds that if you’re still struggling with envy of other relationships, seek some help from a sex and relationship therapist or coach.
Asking for professional help, and having a third party mediate, could help you see things in a new light and make a relationship stronger.
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