Nobody likes jealousy in a long-distance relationship. But when you’re apart from your boyfriend, that sickening feeling can sneak into even the healthiest of relationships.
You probably don’t want to feel jealous— you’re terrified of becoming that girlfriend — but you can’t just wish away the feelings of hurt, sadness and anger.
This is the part of long-distance that everyone warned you about, right? They may have been right about its commonness, but they’re wrong if they told you it’s hopeless. Jealousy in a long-distance relationship doesn’t need to dominate your emotions or ruin your relationship.
How do you deal with jealousy, then? Let’s dive right in.
1. Sort out your feelings
Jealousy in a long-distance relationship rarely exists in a vacuum of emotions.
You might feel angry that your boyfriend doesn’t see a problem with the situation. Maybe you’re sad that another girl gets to be with him when you can’t. Perhaps you’re even scared that your relationship might end.
Whatever you’re feeling, take time to process all of your emotions before lashing out at your boyfriend. It’s possible that some of your emotions aren’t even related to the issue. They’re just spilling over from something else, and they need to be addressed separately.
After you’ve determined exactly what you’re feeling, you’ll have to evaluate if your jealousy is justified. Are you responding rightly or overreacting?
This can be difficult to determine when you’re dating. You haven’t exchanged vows yet, so you’re not bound to each other forever. At the same time, though, most people would say there’s an unspoken agreement to be faithful to each other as long as you’re dating.
One way to pursue wisdom on this subject is by praying the words of Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
2. Consider your boyfriend’s perspective
Your boyfriend may not understand why you’re upset. If you haven’t talked about it yet, he might not even be aware that there’s a problem. These situations can feel like an even deeper betrayal. How could he not know?
However, be cautious before assuming your boyfriend’s intentions or his ignorance. He probably wasn’t trying to hurt you. He also probably isn’t an idiot, so don’t make him out to be one.
I think Philippians 2:4 offers a helpful exhortation: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
So, what are your boyfriend’s interests?
First, he wants you to listen to him with respect. Hurling angry accusations before giving him a chance to explain isn’t respectful or kind.
In some cases, the situation may not even be his fault. Another girl may have put him in a difficult position. That doesn’t make him innocent, but it also doesn’t guarantee his guilt.
Second, he wants your trust. If your boyfriend truly cares about you, he doesn’t want you to be jealous. Has your boyfriend given you any other reason to doubt that he cares about you? Remember his character in difficult times like this.
On the other hand, if he’s trying to get your attention by making you jealous, he doesn’t truly care about you. It’s one thing to draw healthy boundaries, but it’s another to manipulate someone’s emotions and tempt her to sin.
Playing “hard to get” is often a decision made in fear, and as 1 John 4:18 declares, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
3. Talk with him
Once you’ve sorted out your feelings and considered his perspective, talk with your boyfriend.
You’ll want to enter the conversation thoughtfully. Harsh, hurried words may feel satisfying at first, but they’re not going to solve your relationship problems (Proverbs 15:1). In fact, they’ll probably make them worse.
On the other hand, don’t worry about the outcome and delay the conversation longer than necessary. Give your anxieties to the Lord (Philippians 4:6) and ask him to guide the conversation.
While you’re talking, focus on how you feel rather than what he did. You don’t know for certain that he acted wrongly. But you do know how his actions made you feel.
James 1:19 says, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” I don’t know about you, but that’s one verse that always makes me pause. We can always do well to remember this advice during a difficult conversation.
4. Create reasonable expectations
The next step for dealing with jealousy in a long-distance relationship is setting expectations for the future. This step is important for avoiding a repeat of the same problem.
We’ve already established that if your boyfriend cares about you, he does not want you to be jealous. But at the same time, you can’t expect him to never talk to another girl again.
This is one of the challenges of a long-distance relationship where there’s no ideal solution. Between the two of you, you have to establish reasonable expectations for dealing with the opposite sex.
Whatever you decide, the expectations should apply to both of you, and you should both be motivated to follow them.
What we did: We decided that whenever possible, we would not hang out alone with a friend of the opposite gender. We didn’t seek out these situations, and we actively avoided them.
For example, my boyfriend (now husband) doesn’t offer female friends a ride home if they’re alone. I don’t meet guy friends for coffee one-on-one. When we got engaged, we went a step further and limited our one-on-one texting conversations with the opposite sex, too.
Perhaps this sounds extreme, and it was challenging at first. Honestly, though, it was a lifesaver for our long-distance relationship, and it helped us start our marriage strong.
If you set strong expectations that you both agree on, other people won’t understand. That’s okay. They don’t need to get it.
You can never set yourself up for habits of faithfulness too early — even if you end up marrying someone else. Marital infidelity is too common to be ignored, and frankly, it’s prideful to think it can’t happen to you.
5. Rebuild trust with grace
Even if you’ve resolved the initial conflict, it may take a long time to feel confident in your relationship again. You have to learn to trust again — slowly, with forgiveness and grace.
As you move forward with your new expectations, it’s easy to feel jealousy rising again, sometimes whenever your boyfriend so much as mention another girl’s name. When this happens, check your heart. Ask yourself, “Why am I so quick to doubt? What am I really afraid of?”
The truth is that you can follow all of the steps above but still be constantly scared of getting hurt. If your confidence and joy in life is closely connected to your long-distance boyfriend, you will always struggle with the fear of losing him to someone else.
If you’re like me, at some point, you have to realize that there are some things (a lot of things, actually) you can’t control. Your boyfriend, his feelings, and his actions are a few of them.
Eventually, you have to surrender control of your relationship to the only person who truly has it: Jesus Christ. When you trust in Jesus, you can find freedom to trust your boyfriend again.
Any possible betrayal or break-up — while absolutely painful — will not destroy your emotional stability and everything you’ve hoped for. Your confidence will be in a trustworthy, loving God who works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
God loves you already – you don’t have to fight for his attention.
In fact, he’s jealous for you, in a good way. The conversation has already been started: learn how to respond to his love.