Investigating jealousy / infidelity issues

I have previously had success with squashing beliefs with investigation but I’m really struggling to apply it right now due to some intense emotions.

I’ve been re-jigging my life this past year to reduce the amount I’m working, which I thought would allow me to better practice actualism. My working life is much easier, I have more time on my hands and I experience much less stress from work (which was my main cause of stress).

However, it seems to have opened a gap where my main negative ‘theme’ of my life has rushed back in. For the past month, I’ve been battling with it constantly, it’s really destroying my happiness.

I feel a little hesitant to share on a public forum, even if pseudonymous, but here goes:

  • I was cheated on in my teenage years by my first love
  • This has coloured a lot of my experience subsequently in relationships - jealousy, distrust, worry it might happen again
  • Even with my wife, I still obsess about suspicious events in the past, worry when she goes on nights out with her friends etc.

It’s really came to the fore recently and I realise I have a lot of unresolved stuff that hasn’t been dealt with. It’s like a ball of molten lava inside my chest and trying to investigate it is like throwing a bucket of water on it, which just evaporates and the fire keeps burning. Seeing it as silly is just not working.

A big part of the problem is that I believed in monogamy - if you’re in a relationship with someone then you shouldn’t cheat. I’m also seeing some self esteem issues related to it.

It feels like a multi-headed hydra, which I’m battling with and I’m struggling to get past this massive part of my identity. But if I can resolve much of these issues then I’ll be able to start being happy more consistently.

Any tips on investigating this issue?

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This is something I have battled with a lot in the past, recently a situation happened which brought up these feelings again and made me realise just how much progress I have made in this area.
I mention this because I remember how overwhelming and complex this issue is but I can definitely say from personal experience that it is possible to do something about it.

Like you mentioned its a multi-headed hydra, there is morals and values, self-esteem issues, jealousy and possessiveness, shame and guilt, love, past traumas etc.
The feelings associated with jealousy/infidelity hit ‘me’ right at the core of ‘my’ being. It is like my innermost ‘being’ is rejected and betrayed.

I think the first step in undoing this thing is to become aware of this multi-headed hydra in all its aspects. Including the various beliefs, morals and values that make it up as well as the very intense feelings that it brings up.
This is difficult at first but even the most acute feelings of jealousy/betrayal (which are normally avoided at all cost) or even the most dearly held beliefs relating to monogamy or what have you, can be fully experienced and investigated just like one would with any other feeling or belief.

The below text by Richard comes to mind as being very applicable here :

“One cannot examine something fully if one is busy denying its existence. Whatever feeling one may be having, a fascinated attention – attentiveness – freely divulges it … it is looking with discernibleness. All affective feelings are – quite simply – an hereditary occurrence, an inborn factor to be acutely aware of. No pride, no shame, nothing personal at stake … what is there, is naturally there. There is no clinging to the affectionate and desirable emotions and passions (those that are loving and trusting) and no fleeing from the hostile and invidious, either (those that are hateful and fearful). A contemplative attention views all feelings as commensurate – nothing is suppressed and nothing is expressed – as attentiveness does not play favourites.”

I think it is this kind of attentiveness that needs to be applied to all aspects of this issue so that the 3rd alternative can eventually hove into view.

For me I found recently that when issues of jealousy/infidelity came up I was eventually able to see the silliness of the whole drama. I think I was able to do this because 1 - I explored this topic in depth in the past and 2 - as a result of the previous exploration I was able to refuse going down this path once again, a path leading nowhere fruitful.

The other recommendation I would make is to be prepared to question even the most dearly held conviction.
I have often found that when I am unable to move past a dearly held issue such as jealousy, that it is because ‘I’ have painted an artificial line and called it ‘my’ boundary and then decided to live my life according to it. Such as I cannot feel good if my partner has cheated on me.
However I always find that if I have the courage to look and question, that sooner or later this line which seems so very rigid and absolute is nothing more but a creation that I have arbitrarily put in place, it is a feeling/belief and not a fact.


Hey @Kub933, nice to hear that you’ve moved past a lot of these issues, that gives me some motivation to get this sorted.

Yeah, I think this hits the nail on the head - it affects being on a deep level. It’s been decades since the initial incident but it’s never been addressed and I don’t think it has been at the forefront of my mind often. Just bubbling away in the background and then exploding to the forefront every now and then when triggered.

I’m actually reading a book about the subject to gain a different perspective and deeper understanding of the surrounding issues and one of the things it said was “do you really want to let this define you?”. It struck a chord and helped let a little bit of ‘seeing the silliness’ in.

I’m going to persevere tackling it with investigation. Cheers.

When first on board with practicing AF (2006) my girlfriend at the time cheated on me. She was my first long term relationship. This was probably the first big challenge I faced on the actualist path.

Boy was it a rollercoaster of emotion to deal with. All the emotions felt so intense and so important. To dedicate so much time and effort to a person and to to have it spat back in your face. It made me really see more of the ugly side of love and the fallacies/fantasies around that emotion. One of the hostile encounters I had with her when I managed to successfully apply the method led to a PCE, one of my first to happen immediately after an intense emotion.

I was so afraid to end the relationship I still didn’t split from her at first but I started to experience intense resentment towards her. Though this provided me with ample chance to explore my inner workings, I just decided instead to work on that fear of being alone and ended the relationship.

It too has affected my relationship with my wife and my ability to trust people. During my depressed and anxious states I would be 100% convinced my wife was cheating on me. It was so tiresome having that feeling arise.

If I was to identify some of the issues I have realised from exploring similar issues:

  • I too realised I had monogamous beliefs around a one true love and somebody who would be dedicated to me. It is basically an ego’s wet dream. The feeling of love creates such a feeling of some sort of sense of destiny of something special is going to happen.

  • I realised that I had my own rules/code about how two people in a relationship should behave such as I would never flirt with anyone else or do anything else that I thought would cause hurt feelings but I never explicitly communicated these ideas to my partners in any of the relationships I have had. So, often they would cause me hurt by flirting with somebody else in person, texts, emails, etc.

  • I realised I have very low self esteem and defined a lot of my self worth on whether somebody of the opposite sex likes me or finds me attractive. This then ties into what @Kub933 said about being rejected and betrayed at your core. I felt that way and then also unattractive, unconfident, “uncool”, uninteresting, unsexy, etc.

  • I liked the pain and sorrow of it. In a way, I would play the thoughts in my mind over and over again, the hurtful and bittersweet feelings getting triggered because it felt better than feeling numb or flat. It was sort of like emotional self harm. This is much the case for unrequited love as well which is just as painful as being cheated on.

  • I realised I internalise my jealousy. I noticed with my brothers and some of my friends when they have felt jealous I have seen them respond with aggression and react externally, somebody else is to blame. I internalise my jealousy and attack myself. I used to envy the people who externalised it as it seemed they got over it and more relief from it than I would or others I know who internalise like me.

  • She was my first long term sexual partner and I realised I feared not having sex again due to body confidence issues.

I think that you can learn a lot about how you tick from this area. It also made me realise the interconnectedness of certain emotions and parts of my identity.

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Few thoughts from me, with the caveat that I haven’t been cheated on so cannot relate to that in particular.

At the start of my current relationship I would feel jealousy. I remember a particular instance where we were camping, and joined some other campers around a campfire. She was talking to another guy and I started to feel intense jealousy.

What was funny is that I heard the entire conversation and there was absolutely nothing about it that would sensibly make me jealous. There was no flirtation. The conversation itself was pretty boring, just the usual where are you from / what do you do. And the guy wasn’t particularly attractive either, which my partner confirmed later. Yet there the jealousy was anyway.

And what’s funny is I didn’t experience jealousy in another circumstance, of her going climbing one day with a male climbing partner, which it seems should trigger jealousy much more - one on one time, more attractive partner, shared interest, something fun/interesting to do, etc…

This was so clearly silly that I saw a great opportunity to eliminate jealousy, so I investigated. It didn’t take much, and I haven’t really experienced jealousy since, so this is one area I’d say I had it easy, but I think what it really comes down to is essentially allowing your partner to do whatever they want to do.

The realization was basically, look, I can’t control what she does. If she wants to cheat on me she will. And we will deal with that situation then. If she doesn’t then she won’t. It is out of my hands. So it’s better to simply recognize this and allow it instead of trying to resist or control something that is not possible to control.

At a broader level it’s like, I want an arrangement that is stable that both people are happy with. So I don’t want to control anything. Better to let it play out as it will, assert what I want, don’t assert when it doesn’t matter to me, and let it flow from there …


Also just to clarify, I don’t mean this in the sense of, “take it lying down” / let them walk all over you etc. It’s more that you can’t control them – and you are free to act on your own accord as well. So if they do something that breaks the relationship for you, like cheating, then you are free to end it. In that sense you “allow” them to cheat (can’t stop them anyway) but are free to take your own course of action. Do this all happily and harmlessly and nothing can ultimately go wrong…


I was cheated on not by my first girlfriend but by the one I considered, until I met my current partner, “the love of my life”. Before it happened, I had already experienced jealousy because I realized she didn’t have the same interest in being with me, her conversations at meetings, etc. (so, in retrospect, my jealousy “proved” justified).

So it was not pleasant at all, but experiencing jealousy and cheating so young and with someone so dear to me, allowed me to analyze early on thoughts and emotions about it. While I felt jealousy and after the cheating, there were almost no recriminations from me because:

1 - As @claudiu said, I couldn’t really control what she did. This realization already imposed a limit/ceiling on my jealousy and also on my emotions once she cheated on me.

2 - However, what most limited those emotions and reactions (also with subsequent relationships) were the following, more radical question/reflection:

“If out of emotion or physical pleasure she wanted to be with other person temporarily or permanently, but because of my anger, vigilance, recriminations, crying (or whatever) she didn’t do it out of fear, compassion (or whatever), would I really want her not to? Would I feel happy or, at least, content?”.

The answer was not only negative but kind of repulsive to me: if she didn’t choose me freely (and all that seemed to me a kind of emotional extortion), I knew I couldn’t feel good…

So, I experienced jealousy and the possibility of being cheated on somewhat paradoxically: I didn’t want my partner to be with someone else, but I also didn’t want her not to be if that’s what she wanted! :roll_eyes:

So, before understanding the deeper causes related to the need for possession, fear of loneliness, etc., I saw an “operative” futility in being jealous and trying to prevent cheating (well, except when the partner takes jealousy, and even demands it, as proof of love! -another reason to get rid of these twisted, crappy selves we have… :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:)

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@son_of_bob a lot of what you said could have been written by me. Particularly interesting is your reluctance to flirt and it causing issues when your partner did such things. That’s exactly my situation.

I decided to investigate “why don’t I flirt?” and discovered that I have a belief that it’s not appropriate when you are in a relationship, but interestingly I also discovered some fear. Fear that other people in my social circle would disprove if I flirt and also fear of rejection / humiliation by the other person if I was to flirt with them and they didn’t reciprocate or worse. I’ve made some headway in this regard - it’s better to loosen up, flirting can be fun if done in a harmless manner.

Regarding the monogamous belief, it results in quite a lot of cognitive dissonance. It’s obvious that our instinctual passions are not monogamous - blind nature wants reproduction of the species above all else, so our monogamy is completely at odds with that. It’s a tough pill to swallow that our significant other wants to have sex with other people. And of course this drive is in ourselves also. Similar to Richard’s realisation that his wife cheating was admirable because she was courageous and he realised it’s what he secretly wanted to do. I’m not quite at the point of admiring it yet though, heh :upside_down_face:

@claudiu thanks, that’s helpful.

Ultimately, this is where I want to get to. One of the toughest parts is the not knowing whether they’ve cheated. Being taken for a fool etc. I need to look at this.

This has been a bit of a problem for me in the past. Being too ‘nice’, not wanting to rock the boat with suspicions despite them being justified, taking my ex back because I thought she wouldn’t do it again etc. I love the fact that actualism makes you a more effective in situations like this, remove the negative emotions / beliefs and it’s possible to handle these situations much better when they arise - in a robust manner if required. Now, there’s a good motivator for me to overcome this stuff!

Good point. If they don’t really want to be with you then setting them free is the best strategy. However, I also find that a lot of people who cheat want to have their cake and eat it. A cushy relationship and some fun / excitement on the side.


This is an interesting one. Because why would it emotionally upset me if my partner wants to have the cake and eat it too? Why does this cause an emotional reaction in me? Is it because deep down I want this also but have instead settled for love and acceptance?

Is it because I am still living a second rate life and the idea of my partner having more fun than me shoots this realisation home to me?

Is it because it shows me that I have been living my life according to certain morals and expecting to be rewarded for this when really no one cares. And I am jealous that they are themselves free of this?

I am not saying that it is sensible for someone to agree to one thing - being monogamous with their partner and then going off and doing something completely different, this would most likely indicate that the said partner is not happy with their own situation if they have to resort to blatant dishonesty. But assuming my partner is doing this, why does it hurt me so much?

I remember back to the long lasting PCE I had a while ago and in that place if I was to find out my partner has been having their cake and eating it too it would have meant nothing with regards to me. Because I was already having ALL the fun I could have, there was no want for anything and also no need to feel bad when I believe someone close to me is having more than me (jealousy).

I think the whole area of monogamy is so thick with beliefs and morals, different ways to control each other out of fear of being alone and lonely. This is becoming very clear from us just talking about the whole thing.


@carpe_vitae One thing I would say is not to have too much of an agenda with investigation. Don’t be too eager to find the belief, moral or realisation that will be the answer that makes the pain go away. Allow these to surface naturally, experientially. Going too much into theory, even quite sensible ones is often a sign of avoidance and will ring hollow. It’s trying to wrap everything up before you’ve figured out what this thing you’ve got is. Seeing the silliness is more like a genuine and somewhat surprised laugh to a good joke, and less a matter of deciding in advance which joke you will laugh at.

Adopt an attitude of naivete, curiosity, fascination and openness. Feel your way in a spirit of exploration and try and have fun with it to the extent possible - as opposed to trying to defuse it ASAP. Map it out slowly like some seaman charting a new course through some unexplored waters.

Don’t tell yourself off for feeling something. I mean you are a feeling being. What else would you do with yourself? :grinning: Just feel it like it is happening for the first time and there is no one watching you. To feel intense jealousy, especially when you’ve been cheated on before is the most understandable thing in the world.

If you feel strong shame and helplessness with an emotion it might be time to give it a rest. Often investigation about hot trigger themes will blow up in your face - repeatedly. If you go past the pain point, you’ll just be overwhelmed and suffering instead of investigating really. Better to go back to neutral first or take a break and revisit it once you regain your composure.


This is such good advice for investigation in general I am definitely going to save it :metal: This is exactly how I have been thinking about it for a while now, investigation being like a genuine (and patient) exploration into an area as opposed to being driven to come up with an answer that magically makes things go away now.


@carpe_vitae I can relate to what you have said about flirting too. I agree with you and @Kub933 about all these beliefs, morals and feelings around monogamy. For me though, it seems really I just want unconditional love and to be the only person who can be loved by the person I choose, like they can’t like or show interest in anybody else. I touched on unconditional love subject back on Zulip chat. This possessiveness is so strange, because I don’t want to be owned like that either, it is one way traffic.

@Srinath, thanks for your words, I can see a lot of use in them for other situations too.


Another thing with investigation is to have more of an attitude of ‘how?’ rather than ‘why?’. As in ‘how do I tick?’. ‘How’ is interested in the way feeling operates - its contours, alley ways and corridors. Fascination can more easily occur, as can looking at feelings in a more interested and understanding manner. ‘Why’ is looking for final answers, quick-fixes and solutions to feelings and can easily turn into self-denigration - ‘Why am I such a terrible person?!!!’ :sweat_smile: Even though overwhelm and shame can occur with either approach and may temporarily put a halt to investigation, it occurs a lot less with a ‘how’ approach IME


Awesome, thanks @Srinath. Btw I really enjoy your writing style when you describe these processes. I can’t quite explain it but it’s like the metaphors tell a story which I can completely relate to, and what is being said is processed by my mind a lot smoother than a more ‘clinical’ description of the method if that makes any sense. It’s like the story you tell creates a corresponding image in my head which makes the understanding click so much more, for example :

“Map it out slowly like some seaman charting a new course through some unexplored waters.”


'“How’ is interested in the way feeling operates - its contours, alley ways and corridors”

I find talking like this super useful, maybe because by using these metaphors I am able to root my understanding in factual things that I can relate to as opposed to the knowledge being just an abstract.

For example I can ‘see’ those alley ways and contours you speak of and it immediately clicks with the understanding of how my feelings operate exactly in that way.

As opposed to saying - “feelings are complex and we must explore all there is to each feeling” which doesn’t quite do the same thing for me.

Have you always written like this or is it more since becoming Actually free?

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Haha, I don’t know for sure how much AF influences how I talk @Kub933. Maybe it does a bit, but I suspect it’s other things too. I think communication is better when it’s not too technical. Metaphors often do hit home in a way that words cannot

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I assumed that AF would automatically switch to writing as Richard…
This is a relief

Some interesting points here that I hadn’t considered. I don’t have any memory of a PCE which makes seeing things from this angle a bit more tricky but all the more reason I should resolve to have a PCE!

@Srinath thanks, tons of great advice in there. Viewing the emotions with fascination is already proving to be helpful. I find that attitude helps to stop things festering and prevents thoughts spiralling round and round.

I made some headway with investigation, with the humiliation aspect specifically, which seemed to be the most dominant feeling. When I google what humiliation is, it states that it happens when something makes you feel inferior or when your social status decreased. I managed to see some silliness in that by asking myself a series of questions - why should the acts of others make me feel inferior? Silly! Even some of the most rich, famous, charismatic [insert desirable quality] can be cheated on.

I also noticed that part of me wanted to hold onto the humiliation, it was like a weird kind of comfort blanket that made up part of my identity. Silly! Realising this has opened up a bit of space and I feel that I have managed to drop some of the negative emotion.

Still some other aspects to investigate but it feels good to be making progress again. Thanks all!

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@carpe_vitae good, but if you soon become triggered again around cheating and humiliation, its okay and to be expected. These things often have layers like an onion. Jealousy often has more to do with ones fantasy of the other man, the rival, than with the woman it seems to me. Just keep exploring and investigating.


I had another realisation whilst investigating this today - jealousy doesn’t work. The purpose of jealousy seems to be worry of losing someone. The self thinks that feeling jealous will prevent that loss from happening. But how could this be the case? Losing someone could happen whether you feel jealous or not.

In fact, it makes it more likely that you might lose someone. Jealousy is not an attractive quality and it also makes you feel bad, which is less attractive than someone who is happy!

I know there are other angles still to investigate but something has fallen away after that realisation. Feeling quite good at the moment :slight_smile:


I’ve realised that a large part of my happiness is dependent on how well my relationship with my wife is going. There are natural ebbs and flows in a marriage and the ebbs seem to hit me quite hard. When there’s less affection between us and less closeness I notice myself dipping into feeling bad. Feeling bad makes it more difficult to regain that closeness, so it can turn into a vicious cycle.

In the past, when I’ve been doing well with actualism and feeling good most of the time, I remember noticing that my marriage was going really well. There was a palpable difference in our relationship, more closeness, like she finds me more attractive. Which makes sense because a happy person is much more attractive than someone who is feeling bad.

I noticed this excerpt by Richard which struck a chord:

• [Richard]: ‘There is only one person in this whole wide world that one can change … myself. This is the most important point to understand thoroughly, otherwise one endlessly tries to change the other … and as there are billions of ‘others’ it would be a life-time task with still no success at the end. If one grasps that the way to peace-on-earth is by changing oneself – and oneself only – then all of one’s interactions with others will undergo a radical transformation. You set them free of your graceless demands … your endless neediness born out of being alone in the world. The cause of sadness and loneliness [aka sorrow] is not, as is commonly believed, alienation from others. The single reason for being alone and lonely is from not being what-I-am. By not being this flesh and blood body just brimming with sensory organs, but being, instead, an identity within ‘I’ am doomed to perpetual loneliness and aloneness. ‘I’ am fated to ever pursue an elusive ‘Someone’ or ‘Something’ that will fill that aching void.
When I am what-I-am, there is no void. By being what I actually am – this body only – I have no need for others; hence I also have no need to place the burden upon them to fulfil that what was lacking. Not only do I free myself from that perpetual pursuit, but I also free others in my company from the task ‘I’ impose upon them. Being this sensual body is actual fulfilment, each moment again. Nevermore will I be needy, greedy and grasping. Nevermore will I plot and plan and manipulate others. Nevermore will I have to prostitute myself to others to assuage those main attributes of the identity within: being lost, lonely, frightened and cunning. Being what-I-am is to be free-flowing, spontaneous, delightful … and it is fun, for one can never be hurt again’

That’s what it feels like. That I need another person to make me feel whole and my happiness is dependent on experiencing that love and affection.

I need to focus on changing myself and not relying on another person for my happiness. It’s the only way I can guarantee my happiness.