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Hello everyone, ESFJ here

I am working really hard on becoming the happiest person I can possibly be, and there are two big things that seem to be really holding me back.

I'll address the first here, which is the jealousy I have to deal with in my relationship. My SO is kind, trustworthy, supportive, and every other kind word I can think of, and I really have no reason to not trust him! Unfortunately, my jealousy (I believe) is more of a learned behavior that is hard to deal with. You see, I had 3 serious relationships before my current one. In all of those relationships, I was far from jealous, and insisted that I would never be one of "those" girls who tried to control who their men were friends with, ect. Well all of those SOs had female friends that they would text and hang out with on a regular basis, and I was totally cool with this, despite having never met any of these girls. That is, I was cool with this until all of them cheated on me with those girls who they swore were just friends... Now I am incredibly jealous and while I don't have any issue with my man working with women, saying hi or talking to other women and simply being casual, I not at all okay with him having "friendships" with women at all! I don't want him to have their phone numbers, no hanging out with "the crew from work" if any women are involved, ect. I don't actually search his phone or log on to his facebook or anything like that, but it isn't because I don't want to so much as it is because I would be too ashamed of myself for taking it that far (I have issues, I know). Here you ask "well if you trust him and he's never given you any reason to not trust him, then what's the problem?" The problem is that my previous SOs also gave me no reason to not trust them and made everything seem so perfect until BAM! I know my current SO is not my previous SOs, but I simply cannot help myself, and I wish I could just be at peace with whatever he wants to do.. How can I stop being so jealous so that I can be happy? I'm concerned that if I don't fix this and if I cannot stop freaking out every time I find out there is a new female friend in his "crew" then he will stop going out of his way to inform me of them (or worse, he'll start lying) in order to prevent the shit show that is my jealousy.
 

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Hey ESFJ :)

First, good for you for working on yourself like this. It's not easy but it is always worthwhile.

As for the issue - girl, I feel you. I had a really freaking similar problem when I started dating my SO. I hadn't been cheated on, but I'd been manipulated, and I was SO SENSITIVE to any little interaction that seemed like it might even begin to seem like power play.

I don't have a perfect answer, but what has worked well for me has been to be honest and open with my SO - to discuss my negative feelings as they arise and to do my best to give him the benefit of the doubt. If you've been cheated on three times, hopefully your SO can see how and why you'd be hurt, and he can at least intellectualize why you react the way you do. Maybe you can also work with him to set up some basic ground rules that he's ok with so you both can feel comfortable. Maybe you can make some compromises and bargains - like maybe he can hang out with a mixed-gender group but no hanging out with women one-on-one, or maybe after he hangs out with any women he can call you and give you a little rundown of how it went so that you don't feel isolated from that aspect of his life. Of course he can't feel blamed or victimized, since he hasn't done anything, but at the same time in dating you he's willingly taken on your emotional baggage, too, and one of the most wonderful things about a partner is their ability to help you heal in ways that you can't achieve alone.

The other thing you can do is to be alert to your partner's internal states, too. Recent research on cheating is suggesting that it has more to do with the cheater's internal life and perceived emotional deficits than about the overall health of the relationship - which is perhaps why three guys were able to totally blindside you. The causes for cheating may well be things that are never shared. So the more you can talk to him about his internal processing, the more you might be able to help support his underlying neuroses and to head off the need to cheat itself. That said... to some extent you will never be able to control that.

Along that line... I think there is also maybe an element of being willing to throw it to the wind again. It's hard and painful, but I guess there's something beautiful too about taking a risk, even after repeated failures. So maybe it won't work out... but you are strong and resilient and you have been through that before. If it doesn't work out, you know you have the knowledge and the skills and the internal fortitude to pick yourself up and carry on. And if it works out, then it will be more than worth it.
 

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Hello ESFJ, INFJ here

I totally get how you feel. I think you need to tell him exactly this and the fact that you're realizing that jealousy is a problem proves that you can get past this and fix the problem. Remember that acceptance is the first step. If you never tell him how you feel, it'll always be on your chest (Girl, we're both Fe users so we both know you can't let this fester!) and it's possible that in your last two relationships there were signs that they were cheating on you but you just didn't see it because of infatuation and love? Look back and think hard about the little details and see if your current SO is doing anything like that? This way you can think about it in a logical way. Good luck!
 
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