Jealousy in a sexual relationship or because of one may come from insecurity or fear of a partner’s infidelity or leaving a relationship, perceived or otherwise. Jealousy may also be used to prompt or force communication about concerns in a sexual relationship.

Some researchers theorize that some sexual jealousy may be a byproduct of evolution to keep partners connected for the survival of the species.

There are also studies that show heterosexual men and women (and possibly those of other sexual persuasions) have different perspectives as to what scenarios would make them jealous in an actual or possible sexual relationship. Some people also get jealous thinking about their partner’s past sexual relationships.

The sourced articles below should provide more information on some of the causes of jealousy in a sexual relationship, and when and why it may be beneficial to communicate those feelings.

  1. How Jealousy Can Ruin Your Relationship

    “There are usually communication breakdowns when jealousy enters a relationship. If this has occurred, there are actions couples can take to mend and heal. Open the lines of communication and share your concerns and fears without accusing or attacking one another. Talk about each others’ strengths and revisit what brought you together in the first place.”

    Karen Doll, Psy.D., L.P,, 7/20/2021

  2. 10 Times When Jealousy Is Actually Healthy In A Relationship

    “[1.] Someone is giving flirtatious vibes to your partner. …
    [2.] Your partner is giving flirtatious vibes to someone else. …
    [3.] Your partner is bragging when you’re in a rough place. …
    [4.] Your partner succeeded in something you are both pursuing. …
    [5.] Someone mentions something about your partner that you were unaware of. …
    [6.] Your partner treats another activity like a second relationship. …
    [7.] Your partner goes on a trip or has an experience that you aren’t apart of. …
    [8.] Your partner treats his/her friend(s) with tremendous attention. …
    [9.] Your partner makes comments about other people’s attractiveness to you. …
    [10.] You feel like your partner doesn’t appreciate you. …”

    Charlotte Lieberman,, accessed on 5/11/2019

  3. Overcoming Retrospective Jealousy

    “For example, when you hear about a former lover does it make you anxious, make you doubt your partner’s feelings about you, or make you think that you are just another stop along an endless journey that they are taking? This is what is called ‘retrospective jealousy’ and this can plague your relationship and destroy any trust that you have.”

    Robert L. Leahy, PhD,, 2/8/2019

  4. Retroactive Jealousy: When You’re Obsessed With Your Partner’s Ex

    “At its most innocuous, it might mean glancing at their ex’s Instagram every once in a while out of boredom, or being a little too interested in what was said in their most recent ‘friendly catch-up’. At its worst? Retroactive jealousy is obsessive, compulsive and ruinous. It means delving through the entire backlog of posts, comments and photos of them together online, constantly comparing yourself with the ex and incessantly questioning your partner about every element of their relationship.”

    Natalie Gil,, 11/1/2018

  5. Where Does Jealousy Come From?

    “Of course, it’s not just men who get jealous; as any non-alien knows, women do too. But women’s jealousy has a different adaptive logic. According to evolutionary psychologists, the primary issue is paternal care. Throughout most of our evolution, sex usually led to children, and children were a huge amount of work. Women in a robust relationship typically had more surviving offspring than women without one. As such, any trait that decreased the chances that a woman’s partner would get involved with somebody else was likely to be selected. Jealousy again fits the bill.”

    Steve Stewart-Williams,, 10/10/2018

  6. Why Do We Get Jealous In Relationships?

    “Jealousy in a relationship can be more about your own vulnerabilities than about your partner’s actions. For instance, you may be prone to jealousy if you’ve had painful experiences in your past. It’s important to talk to your partner about these experiences so you can be mindful of each other’s triggers and respect them.”

    April Eldemire, LMFT,, 10/3/2018

  7. Jealousy

    “Still, jealousy can become destructive when it is frequent, intense, or irrational. An individual experiencing a high level of sexual jealousy may have difficulty trusting their partner and may check the partner’s email and cell phone or secretly follow them. If the partner discovers this behavior, the relationship may suffer.”

    GoodTherapy,, 9/14/2018

  8. 7 Ways To Deal With Jealousy In Relationships

    “But if that immediate pang of insecurity when you see a hot person check out your partner is such a universal feeling, why is it so reviled? Dr. Robert L. Leahy, author of The Jealousy Cure, says that jealousy exists everywhere – even your dog can feel it towards the new puppy you just brought home. ‘It will be part of your relationship at times,’ says Leahy. ‘If you deny it, you’re not going to be able to cope with it very well.’ Here are seven ways to deal with (and even embrace) this inevitable emotion: …
    [1.] Know that jealousy (in small doses) is actually a good sign. …
    [2.] Be supportive of each other’s feelings. …
    [3.] Set aside jealousy time. …
    [4.] Lower your expectations. …
    [5.] Reevaluate toxic habits. …
    [6.] Trust your gut. …
    [7.] Know that betrayal will not end you. …”

    Julia Pugachevsky,, 3/30/2018

  9. Here’s The Real Reason Why You Get Jealous In Relationships — And What You Can Do About It

    “As Dr Robert L Leahy outlines in his new book: ‘The Jealousy Cure,’ jealousy is about a lot more than a mere wandering eye, and often has a lot to do with our own character traits. ‘Jealousy is always about three people,’ explains Dr Leahy. It occurs when one person feels threatened by a third party. Either someone in the partnership is interested in a third party or they are interested in a person in the relationship. Of course, sometimes it can be both. Leahy separates romantic jealousy into two categories: sexual jealousy and jealousy regarding emotional closeness.”

    Olivia Petter,, 3/6/2018

  10. Sexual And Emotional Infidelity: Evolved Gender Differences In Jealousy Prove Robust And Replicable

    “Infidelity poses threats to high-investment mating relationships. Because of gender differences in some aspects of reproductive biology, such as internal female fertilization, the nature of these threats differs for men and women. Men, but not women, for example, have recurrently faced the problem of uncertainty in their genetic parenthood. Jealousy is an emotion hypothesized to have evolved to combat these threats.”

    David M. Buss,, 2018

  11. Are Women Really More Jealous Than Men? Here’s What Science Says

    “‘Heterosexual men really stand out from all other groups,’ said psychologist and lead author David Frederick in a statement accompanying the study’s release. ‘They were the only ones more likely to be most upset by sexual infidelity.’ This gives credence to a fairly common evolutionary theory that isn’t perfectly politically correct. Strap in.”

    HealthyWay staff,, 12/5/2017

  12. Online Jealousy Is Different And The Same

    “In general, men were more distressed by the messages that suggested their partners were having sex with someone else. Women were generally more distressed by the idea of their partners cheating emotionally. (The women were actually more upset by the whole thought experiment in general.)”

    Katie Moritz,, 8/23/2017

  13. Jealousy Levels In Response To Infidelity-Revealing Facebook Messages Depend On Sex, Type Of Message And Message Composer: Support For The Evolutionary Psychological Perspective

    “Sex differences in how and to what extent jealousy manifests have long been documented by evolutionary psychologists with males showing more pronounced responses to sexual infidelity and females to emotional infidelity. … Broad support for the evolutionary interpretation of sex differences in jealousy was found with more pronounced sexual jealousy in males, and emotional jealousy in females compared to males being evident. Similarly, salient sex differences were observed highlighting the importance of the composer of the infidelity-revealing message. For example, in females, higher distress was found resulting from the discovery of received (female rival) when compared to sent (male partner) messages, and received messages across sex (females higher). The results are discussed in relation to previous findings and in the context of growing concern relating to relationship dissolution and partner-initiated domestic violence.”

    Michael J. Dunn, and Gemma Billett,, 7/6/2017

  14. Chapman University Publishes Research On Jealousy – Impact Of Sexual Vs. Emotional Infidelity

    “In the largest study to date on infidelity, Chapman University has learned men and women are different when it comes to feeling jealous. In a poll of nearly 64,000 Americans this study provides the first large-scale examination of gender and sexual orientation differences in response to potential sexual versus emotional infidelity in U.S. adults. According to the findings, heterosexual men were more likely than heterosexual women to be most upset by sexual infidelity (54 percent of men vs. 35 percent of women) and less likely than heterosexual women to be most upset by emotional infidelity (46 percent of men vs. 65 percent of women). … The evolutionary perspective notes that men face a problem that women never face: paternal uncertainty.”

    Sheri Ledbetter,, 1/5/2015