Obsessive jealousy: symptoms, causes and how to treat

Jealousy is a feeling that appears to a greater or lesser extent in all relationships. It has its origin in the fear of losing the person we love. We can say that most of the time it is normal. However, when jealousy is disproportionate, appears constantly or is unfounded, we may be dealing with obsessive jealousy. This type of obsessive jealousy is more related to the need for control and distrust than love. See the main signs of obsessive jealousy and what to do to get around this situation.

In today’s text we will talk about the following topics:

  • What is obsessive jealousy?
  • Healthy jealousy vs. pathological jealousy
  • Characteristics
  • Obsessive jealousy, according to science
  • Othello Syndrome
  • Symptoms of obsessive jealousy
  • What are the causes of obsessive jealousy?
  • The consequences of sick jealousy
  • Treatment
  • Controlling jealousy
  • If you are the victim of an obsessive jealous
  • If you are a jealous obsessive
  • Make no mistake, it’s a disease

What is obsessive jealousy?

Everyone has been jealous at some point in their life, but when it becomes pathological, out of control, we have a real problem that can be considered an obsessive disorder. In these cases, the thought about a possible infidelity   on the part of the partner becomes recurrent, it totally invades the jealous person’s mind and he starts to live with continuous suffering and doubt.

Obsessive jealousy creates a destructive spiral in the relationship that leads to its deterioration and, in many cases, to break up. The problem is that the jealous person develops a distorted view of reality and obsessive behavior. She devotes much of her efforts and time to looking for evidence of possible mistakes, rejecting any rational argument that proves otherwise. In this way, the jealous’s behavior ends up causing what he fears most: the loss of the person he loves.

Healthy jealousy vs. pathological jealousy

Healthy jealousies are those in which the worry or fear of losing the loved one does not make us lose our ability to reason. We may feel some concern, but this does not make us lose our mind or lead us to draw irrational conclusions or even to imagine non-existent situations. The person who is healthy jealous wants his partner to be by his side, but will not try to control him. Furthermore, this jealousy does not cause discomfort in the partner or seriously affect the relationship.

However, pathological jealousy goes a step further, to the point that it can be classified as a disorder. This type of jealousy is unfounded and can obsess the person who suffers, becoming the center around which his world revolves. As a result, they have a negative impact on their behavior and generate hostility, self-pity and deep insecurity.


Jealousy when obsessive has permanent doubt as its fundamental characteristic and is based on assumptions (most of the time absurd, illogical reasoning) and no evidence, because if there was evidence, it would cease to be pathological. As an example, we could talk about the husband who suffers and makes his wife suffer for the simple fact that she puts on makeup when she leaves the house. The husband questions the reason for the makeup: “If she isn’t wearing makeup at home, why should she do it when she leaves the house? The others shouldn’t matter, only I have to be the most important to her. Apparently it is not so, because if I were the most important, she would not be decorating herself every time she left home… ”. These thoughts are absurd, irrational and illogical.

The person who experiences obsessive jealousy demands that his partner does not get emotionally involved with anyone, not even with his friends. To prevent this from happening, he dedicates himself to observing each partner’s movements, even imposing absurd rules. This constant pressure ends up becoming a time bomb for the relationship because the other person feels trapped and suffocated.

Obsessive jealousy, according to science

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR, 2002), Jealous Paranoid Delusional Disorder is delusion centered on the conviction, without just or evident reason, that you are being betrayed by your spouse or partner romantic. The belief is unjustified and is based on incorrect inferences supported by small “evidences” (for example, stains on clothes) which are accumulated and used to justify the delusion. The subject may take extreme measures to avoid the alleged infidelity. In delusions, the individual “finds himself” betrayed by his partner in a cruel way, accusing him of maintaining intimate relationships with other people.

Othello Syndrome

Pathological or obsessive jealousy is also known as “Othello Syndrome”, a name inspired by Shakespeare’s tale that takes place in 15th century Italy. The book tells the story of a general who is convinced of his wife’s infidelity. Othello, the main character of the plot, suffers from jealousy so intense that it leads him to kill his wife Desdemona.

Jealousy can be influenced by anything, however small. It can also be influenced by others, such as Othello by Yaco in Shakespeare’s play, or even by the media. Everything that can confirm your belief will be important.

Symptoms of obsessive jealousy

The person who suffers from obsessive jealousy is not always aware of his problem, he usually thinks that his attitudes are normal. However, the first step in overcoming the disease is to recognize its existence. Here are some of the main symptoms:

  • Excessive fear of losing the loved one, to the point of feeling bad
  • Thoughts of betrayal
  • Meticulously analyzes the partner’s behavior looking for signs that confirm a possible infidelity
  • Violation of privacy such as looking at cell phone messages or emails without permission
  • Excess control of the partner’s daily life
  • Hatred of partner’s friends and colleagues
  • Jealousy without a real basis, based on imaginary situations or conclusions drawn from small details
  • Jealousy affects the life of the jealous to the point of not being able to sleep or suffering when the loved one is not by the side
  • The thought of a possible infidelity or abandonment prevents you from living fully
  • Search for clues that reveal a possible betrayal
  • Frequent calls and messages to find out what the other is doing. When you don’t answer, imagine that you’re cheating with someone else

What are the causes of obsessive jealousy?

The causes of pathological jealousy vary from one person to another, although at the base of it is usually great insecurity, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. The person does not believe that he is worthy of love, so any detail, a look or a delay, is enough to ignite jealousy.

In many cases, this insecurity can be traced back to childhood, usually due to parents who were emotionally absent and who did not meet the child’s needs for protection and affection. In other cases, insecurity can be caused by a traumatic experience or humiliation experienced in a previous relationship.


There are also cases in which, behind pathological jealousy, there are certain personality characteristics, such as the need to have control and the tendency to exaggerate in reality. They are people with a great capacity to make a storm in a glass of water. They also tend to have few social skills, so they think that if their partner leaves them, they cannot be happy or find someone else who loves them. In fact, a couple’s jealousy often hides emotional dependence.

At the base of unhealthy jealousy are also certain beliefs, such as thinking that the relationship is a possession and, therefore, can only show love for it. In other cases, jealousy hides an obsessive concern for the social image. The person believes that if the partner cheats on him, he will be a laughing stock. To avoid this situation, develop an attitude of control.

The consequences of sick jealousy

When jealousy is irrational, it becomes a pathology. The person is persecuted for his fears, insecurities and suspicions. The idea that your partner can deceive you or leave you puts you in a state of vigilance, looking for signs to confirm your worst fears. Jealous people have fears and beliefs about their partner’s sexual infidelity. These beliefs are psychotic and not based on reason. These people will accuse, spy, investigate, pursue and threaten in order to stop what they believe is happening.

Although partners may initially try to appease the jealous individual by reassuring, discussing, explaining or even restricting their own activities, this becomes increasingly difficult, since jealousy is less and less rational.

When it becomes dangerous

A jealous partner can start accusing his partner of sleeping with other people and can send emails or letters to friends, family or employers who make explicit accusations, with embarrassing and humiliating details.

Unfortunately, irrational behavior may not stop with emails and letters. These individuals can become dangerous because they believe their accusations with absolute conviction and are beyond reason. Threats and acts of violence can occur.

Usually, this behavior will lead to the end of the relationship, as well as restraining orders and other attempts to prevent growing harassment. In the worst case scenario, it can end in violence, as psychotic individuals can harm or kill those they believe are acting against them. In their minds, that would be justifiable homicide.


It is essential to seek professional help, not only to save the relationship, but to definitively overcome the disorder. Even if a new relationship begins in the future, the problem will still be there.

People who suffer from this type of problem usually do not seek psychiatric help because they do not have the perception that their beliefs and behaviors are not rational. If he goes for treatment, it is usually involuntary.

To get help with pathological jealousy, it is essential to contact a psychologist, a psychiatrist or even a sexologist. In some cases, therapy that includes both members of the couple can offer great benefits. A health professional will be able to make a complete assessment to determine the causes and, thus, indicate the best treatment.

Controlling jealousy

There comes a point where obsessive control is unbearable for the other person, so that jealousy ends up irreparably damaging the relationship. The feeling of being observed and controlled causes, sooner or later, the partner to change his behavior and be less affectionate and affectionate, moving away first emotionally and then physically. Lack of trust destroys any possibility of dialogue and suffocates the other person.

If you are the victim of an obsessive jealous

If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who is irrationally jealous, it is best to think about whether it is worth it. It is also extremely important to assess your potential danger and take steps to protect yourself.

Avoid giving explanations about everything you do, do not allow your partner to run your life. When you give him control, you are feeding beliefs and imaginations and helping them to become real to him.

If you are a jealous obsessive

Do not obey jealous thoughts: letting yourself be carried away by the euphoria of the moment is the trigger that triggers the whole list of “crazy” attitudes that a person can do. If any negative thoughts cross your mind, stop and don’t act if you’re not 100% sure.

  1. Confess: directly and directly, discuss the matter with your partner. There is no point in admitting to yourself if you continue to deny others. Reveal your true feelings and talk about what is distressing you: what to expect from your partner, plans for the near and distant future. This will make you feel more confident about what can happen and your feelings.
  2. Get rid of your anxiety through other activities: jealousy is also a sign of stress, anxiety and activity. Use that energy to do the things you enjoy, practice a new hobby, keep yourself busy and work towards your projection as a person, both professionally and at work.
  3. Set boundaries: recognize with your boyfriend / husband what are the things that bother you and if so many objections are really justified. After determining the limits, be open to what he asks of you.
  4. Don’t ask for unnecessary explanations and stop questioning them for everything they do. Share, talk about your day, but don’t ask for every detail to know a little more.
  5. Ask for a break: don’t be afraid of that word. A separate time does not mean ending the relationship forever. Being alone not only refreshes the relationship, it allows you to analyze the consequences of your actions and see whether or not you overreacted in certain situations.

Make no mistake, it is a disease.

Don’t be fooled, obsessive jealousy is a disease. To eradicate obsessive jealousy, the first step is simple: accept that you suffer from such a disorder. Don’t use excuses like “my sixth sense doesn’t fail” or the popular “prevention is better than cure”. Only when you or your partner are aware of the problem will you be able to resolve your internal conflicts and bring harmony back into your relationship.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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