Soapbox Therapy: Jealousy and Feeling Like a Teenage Girl

How early in a relationship can you ask if the other person is dating other people? It can be an honest and nagging feeling we can’t control, but it can have disappointing consequences if not handled properly. Brooke has how to deal.

Your questions, Brooke’s answers. Completely anonymous.

Dear Brooke,

I’ve been doing the internet dating thing a little bit, and I’m surprised by how well it seems to be working. I’ve been talking and hanging out with this girl a little while now and really like her. But based on her tweets and Facebook statuses, I think she might be going on dates with other guys too. I’m into her, point blank—and I feel like a teenage girl saying this, but I really want to know: Is it a little early to say something about dating other people? And more-so, at what point do I have a right to be jealous?

Thanks,

Jealous-Josh

Dear Josh,

I love this question. It kinda makes me want to hug you and go out for coffee in a totally-platonic-big-sister-whip-your-self-confidence-into-gear kind of way. But I think I can manage the message in writing. Cheers, and here we go…

Point blank my dear: Jealously isn’t a right, it’s a feeling. Whether or not your jealousy is timely isn’t the point, the simple fact that you are jealous—that’s the point.

You thinking you’re acting like a teenage girl because you’re feeling something exciting, rather than realizing you’re in fact acting like a teenage girl because you’re spinning and judging the crap out of your feelings? That’s the point.

The stereotype of the high school girl is that they sit there on the phone with their friends and try to figure out if their feelings are valid or not. Should I feel this or should I not feel that? The funny thing is, people think high school girls are silly, yet the truth is, we all have one inside of us. All.

No one wants their feelings to be wrong, so they keep them inside. But I have a surprise for you…there is no such thing as feelings being right or wrong. Feelings are nifty like that – they get a free pass. Certain feelings at certain times may seem over the top or inappropriate to some people, but in reality, feelings are never wrong. They’re personal. They come from somewhere. And this is where the whole meeting the right girl thing comes in…

The only reason you’re not asking this girl about dating others is because you don’t want her to think you’re nuts, overbearing, moving too fast, etc. Right? Right. Well, here’s the thing. If she thinks you’re nuts, she’s not the girl for you. Ya, it’s that simple.

If she’s relieved that you asked because she’s as into you as you are into her? That would be like a frikin’ after school special…sans the teenage girl and sub in: mature and communicative adults who are on the same page and starting a relationship. Love it.

When you meet the right person for you they will, from time to time, challenge your feelings in order to support you in being your best self. But more importantly, when you meet the right person for you, your feelings will never (sub: rarely if we’re living in the real world) feel wrong. And in order to test the waters to see who the right person for you might be…expressing yourself is key.

You’ve been going out with a girl, you like her, and you want to know if she’s seeing other people. That request is as reasonable as they come.

My advice: Change how you’re looking at this situation. You don’t need to have a big talk and put a picture of you guys together in funny glasses on your Facebook profile. You just have to ask… “Are you seeing other people? Just want to know where we’re at and if we’re on the same page.” You could even get crazy and tell her that you like her, you like spending time with her. But, whatever works for you.  If this girl is worth your time, she’ll not only embrace your feelings, she’ll be flattered.

So, spend a little less time judging your feelings and a little more time expressing them. You’ll quickly graduate from teenage girl status, to hot-emotionally-intelligent-guy-who-knows-what-he-wants status. Point blank.

*Disclaimer: Brooke may not be able to respond to every question asked, and her responses shouldn’t be considered professional medical advice.

Born in Detroit and raised in Chicago, Brooke Miller, MA is now a San Francisco based advice columnist and relationship expert. Her column, Soapbox Therapy, has been called “ Raw, honest, thought-provoking, and wisely witty” by readers and critics and can be read in several publications including The SF Chronicle’ s affiliate, TheIsCollection, and Cheeky Chicago. Brooke supports clients all over the country via Skype and phone coaching sessions. She can be contacted at brooke(a)primermagazine.com.