Does Jealousy Change Over Time for Women?

Q. Does jealousy change over time for women?

My friends and I can’t help but be jealous when our boyfriends are friends with an ex-girlfriend. It’s an awful feeling. It makes you more aware of the feelings they shared will always be there even if they know they won’t date again. We don’t fear cheating, just a gut feeling about the possibility of feelings being present. Could this be a stage in life or a sign that something is not right?

A. Jealousy doesn’t go away overtime. But how we react to it changes with maturity. You have to trust your partner and learn to trust your gut.

Some women say a little jealousy is good in a relationship. Without it you would take your partner for granted. Others say that in a truly loving and mature relationship; trust rules out jealousy. I tend to believe in the latter. There’s nothing better than having complete trust in a partner. It gives you the freedom and confidence to be independent within a relationship. If you trust you partner, trust in his feelings until he proves otherwise. You have chosen to be together, respect that.


Until he proves otherwise is the tricky part. By 40-something most of us have been through several relationships and know that all those exes are not “present”. The key is that our intuition is more finely honed. When you sense something is wrong, it probably is. But there’s a difference between trusting our gut and creating tension where it is unwarranted. Constantly worrying about what your boyfriend could possibly be feeling can put up a barrier to enjoying the relationship that you have. Try to be present in the moment. Concentrate on how you feel with him and whether that feels good or not.  It sounds like you trust that there is no cheating involved. It’s just a concern about the presence of feelings. That leads me to believe it’s more in your head than in their hearts. Try to stay in touch with whether those voices in your head are warranted or not.


Here is what some other 40-something women had to say based on their experiences:

Confidence is the best protection against jealousy…

“I think jealousy changes with confidence. Most of my male friends will tell me the one thing that is sexy in a woman is confidence. You and your friends should not fixate on the ex but rather enjoy your time together. I am married and have ex-boyfriends as friends. What is comes down to is how “friendly” are they? Is it a reasonable friendship? If they are going to dinner alone and not inviting you then that would be disrespectful and unhealthy. If it’s just camaraderie and general catch ups, who cares? Be confident he is with you and not her and just make sure he is respectful of your feelings. Good luck and stay confident.”  – 40-something, New Jersey

Trust has staying power…

“I can honestly say that I have never been jealous in 21 years of marriage and my husband is a fit, intelligent, attractive man.  I had a boyfriend that I loved a lot but he was very jealous and that ended our relationship.  If someone loves truly loves and respects you, you shouldn’t feel jealous.  If you do, you need to deal with your insecurities in some practical way so that you can truly enjoy a loving relationship.” – 40-something, Washington DC

Everyone has “shared” feelings…

“Most of the time when a relationship is over, it’s for a reason. You worry that they at one time “shared feelings”. From this relationship onward, everyone you date will have shared feeling with someone. You can’t worry about it. While there may be memories, the feelings that are present are probably not about wanting to be together.” – 40-something, NYC

The need to be friends with exes’ changes with maturity…

“Some women and men are able to be friends with their exes. Some are simply holding on to old feelings.  After one youthful break-up, I called my ex-boyfriend on birthdays and holidays and to catch up every now and then. It wasn’t until I fell in love with someone else that I realized I didn’t need to call him anymore. I was only holding onto some fantasy that he still loved me. That was a sign of me not moving on when I should have. Similarly, a male friend (a self-admittedly immature guy) has told me that he would sometimes they stay in touch with ex just to see if he could still have them. It was pure ego and not fair to the women either. Both cases a sign of immaturity that changes with maturity if not age. I know now that I don’t really need to be friends with an ex. There are exes I run into and see and it’s always nice to catch up but now that I’m in a happy relationship that has no importance in my life.” – 40-something, NYC

Respect goes both ways….

“As a woman who tends to stay friends with my exes, I didn’t used to think it was a big deal but now I think when you truly love your partner, you don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. You have to be sensitive. I had a few ex/friends: one from high school, one from college and one from my 20s. I can admit I enjoyed harmless banter (okay flirting) with one of them. Another is more of a touchstone to my hometown. Seeing him on occasional trips home is inevitable as he shares my group of friends…but more importantly to me, it makes me grateful that I didn’t end up with him. I appreciate my current relationship even more. The third, I didn’t date for long and instead we developed a true friendship. However, some of these relationships made my now fiancé uncomfortable. I realized that while I don’t see them interfering with my love for him, it was not worth causing tension in our relationship. I had to respect his feelings. We talked openly about it and I decided to cut off ties with the one I flirted with and now only see the others in group situations. So if there comes a place and time where you’re uncomfortable with how your boyfriend is spending time with his ex, set some limits and boundaries. If he can’t respect that, then that is an issue.”  – nearing 40-something, Chicago


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