How to Tell If A Guy is Jealous


Many factors come into play when it comes to the success of a new relationship. Often, when we first meet someone or begin to date, we think things they do are cute. They could have little quirks, habits, and mannerisms that we don’t end up finding attractive long term.

One of those habits or quirks could be jealousy. Jealousy isn’t one size fits all; it’s more of a scale. A guy can have a touch of envy without being possessive and commanding. On the flip side, a guy can be enraged with jealousy no matter what you do – because it doesn’t have anything to do with you, it’s just a trait he suffers from.

Jealousy can be many things; some of them make us feel confident and loved; some of them make us feel overwhelmed and burdened by our partners. Romantic jealousy is an emotion felt by both men and women, but men and women tend to have dividing factors that fuel jealousy. Before we get into how to tell if a guy is jealous, let’s talk about why guys are jealous.

Why Do Guys Get Jealous?

Jealousy is a hard emotion to control. No one wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, “Hey, I’m going to be jealous about XYZ today.” That’s not to say men or women have an excuse to act like jealous lunatics. Just that, as humans, jealousy is within a reasonable range of emotions.

So, why do guys get jealous? Well, the reasons are limitless, but there does tend to be common triggers for many people.

Why Does It Seem Like Some Guys Can’t Control Their Emotions?

Remember when Oscar Pistorius said, “I was besotted with her,” when describing his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp? Pistorius is one of many extreme cases, but the feeling and emotion that drove him to do what he did was jealousy.

Humans, if left to their own devices, sometimes revert to their “lizard brains,” wanting to defeat challengers at all costs.

Men want to defeat challengers, plain and simple. Don’t confuse the reasons why men become jealous (which often comes in the form of something a woman “did”) as being your fault. Sure, some women do things on purpose to get a rise out of a guy, but most often, a guy is jealous because of something within himself.

For example, you’re standing with a group of friends and your guy, and another male in the group says something funny. Maybe everyone laughs; perhaps you get the joke, and you laugh. It was funny – you laughed.

For a guy who prides himself on his sense of humor, your guy gets a little tinge of jealousy. It’s a competition, he loves to make you laugh, but someone else got the laugh out of you. It sounds silly, but it’s true.

Anxiety, Paranoia, Obsessive Thoughts, and Insecurity

We talked about jealousy being among the normal range of emotions. In healthy relationships, you should have no issue with a guy who has a jealous feeling or two. This is especially true if he’s open and honest about it. Some guys tend to crack a joke about something that made them feel jealous.

Aside from a little tinge of jealousy, guys can have some deep-rooted problems that make them an overtly jealous person and partner. You want to watch out for guys who regularly exhibit jealousy or those who can’t get over a small incident quickly.

A guy may have simple insecurity, based on upbringing, past relationships, or even trauma that plays out in your relationship through jealousy. He may also suffer from paranoid or obsessive thoughts or have any number of anxiety disorders or symptoms.

Never be afraid to talk things over with your partner if you’re getting signals from them that they are uncomfortable with things in your relationship. On the same note, don’t hesitate to discuss if you’re uncomfortable with the way they’re handling their emotions.

Now that we know a little more about why guys feel the way they do, let’s jump into how you can tell if your guy is feeling jealous. After all, some of them won’t just come out and say it!

How to Tell If A Guy Is Jealous

Feeling jealous can lead people to feel guilty or silly about a situation. Sometimes, instead of just saying outright that they’re feeling insecure, a guy will act a certain way or display other signs of his jealousy.

Maybe he wants to talk about it; perhaps he doesn’t. Jealousy can make people uncomfortable, among other things. For the sake of your relationship, though, it’s excellent to keep communication open and acknowledge how one another feels.

So, even though your partner might be hiding his jealousy, here are some ways to interpret behavior. We’ll also talk about other signs your guy might be battling the envy monster. Remember, that it’s entirely possible to misread a situation, so if you feel like your guy might be envious, approach him with caution, and leave out accusations. Without any further hold-up, let’s dive right into how to tell if a guy is jealous.

He’s Putting On The Tough Guy Act

Okay, some guys are always wearing their tough-guy macho man costume, that’s true. But, one surefire way to tell if your guy is jealous is if he suddenly starts acting tough. Maybe he’s usually more of a cool, calm, and collected dude. Perhaps he’s generally pretty stern, but suddenly he’s acting a little over the top.

There’s a chance he’s feeling threatened and wanting to “puff out his chest” to assert himself. When men feel prideful, they can go overboard quickly. So, if your guy is suddenly wanting to tell everyone around you that you’re his girl, or acting out of character, he may be feeling jealous.

The key to this behavior is not to let it go too far. Sometimes, people test boundaries to see what you’re going to be OK with. Have a conversation about it, and if it continues, set up some firm boundaries for that kind of thing.

There’s a significant difference between a guy needing a little reassurance from you now and again, and a guy who continually makes you defend yourself.

He Gets Passive Aggressive

People who are feeling jealous tend to have a hard time just coming right out and saying it. Often, people do things behaviorally that let us know something is up, without actually saying it.  One of the best indicators of jealousy is passive-aggressiveness.

It may come off as a joke once or twice in a relationship; that’s normal. For example, I used to have an inside joke with my boyfriend. Every time he said he was off to the bank, I would say, “Tell your other girlfriend, I said hi!” Now, he always knew I was joking and often made funny comments back. It came from a time when a bank teller was overtly flirting with him when we were in the bank together.

This was within a reasonable range of happenings in our relationship. The tone we used, body language, and reactions were indicative that we were both on the same page about the joke. That made it a nonissue for either of us.

If your man is continuously passive-aggressive to you about other males due to jealousy, and you’re not having fun, or it makes you uncomfortable, speak up.

Rubbing Things in Your Face

Whether in a relationship or outside of one, we’ve all probably had at least one experience with this. A guy who is jealous or insecure about something will find ways to rub things in your face. It’s prevalent with guys who have issues with their ego.

There’s no excuse for this, and it’s never an okay thing to do, set boundaries, and stand firm with them.

Out of Character Flirting

So, your guy is usually the sweetest; he never does or says anything with or to other women that makes you feel uncomfortable. Then, suddenly, he becomes flirty with women in front of you. If this is not a usual thing he does, and he’s suddenly doing it more and more, this is contradicting his regular behavior pattern.

Perhaps you ask him what’s going on and he doesn’t fess up to anything. There could be several things at play here, but jealousy is the root cause of all of them. There’s a chance that he’s feeling insecure about something or jealous over something inadvertent you don’t even know about.

Your guy may be trying to make you feel jealous, get even, or trying to get a rise out of you that will stroke is ego and ease his insecurity. None of those are cool.

Controlling Where You Go, In Disguise

There are ways that a guy may try to control where you go and who you go with, because of their jealousy. Your guy might invite himself to something that you’re doing, or guilt-trip you if you don’t ask him to go.

He may also suggest other plans, knowing full well that you already have set plans to go to place X at Y time with Z friends. If he says he doesn’t like that place and that you all or he and you should go somewhere else, that’s not okay.

Of course, things like that can happen because someone doesn’t like a particular place. But generally, you will know if it’s a habit or regular thing he does to change plans.

There could be a time that he comes along and acts a certain way that makes you uncomfortable. He could make your friends uncomfortable or make you want to end the outing early. If going home early because of the way he is acting is happening, these are similar issues.

He’s controlled the outing by making it unpleasant for you to be there so that you’ll go home instead. In the long run, repeating this kind of behavior leads to isolation. Your friends or family may not want to spend time with him next time. Or you may not want to face friends or family who have recently witnessed some of his un-charming behavior.

The Uninvited Guest

Although some couples seem to be attached at the hip, all relationships should come with the time, space, and freedom to allow each person much needed time to themselves. There may be times you’re staying at work late to finish up a couple of things or get a head start on a project, or going out with your girlfriends sans male partners. You may even be spending a quiet evening at home, relaxing alone.

In any case, you should be able to do so without your man showing up uninvited or without warning. There is no reason that your boyfriend should be popping up anywhere you are unannounced. I know it’s easy for us to accept excuses. We may say he was worried because you weren’t answering your phone, or you recently had an argument, and he wanted to settle it.

Don’t allow any of those excuses to creep up because they only mean to break down barriers, if it’s okay this time, it’ll be okay next time, and the time after that. The real reason your guy showed up is that he wanted to check in on you, see if you were at the place you said you were or were alone when you said you’d be.

As an adult, there is no reason that any other person should be keeping tabs on you. Living this way could diminish your sense of self, so don’t allow it. If your guy and his friends bump into you and your friends on a night out, it may not be a big deal. Likewise, if you ran into one another when there were no set plans communicated, it could be a one-time thing or a coincidence.

Just don’t allow anyone to check up on you solely because they don’t trust you, that’s unfair and a red flag.

He Gets Weird When You Go Out Without Him

This one can go so many ways, so tread lightly on the topic. Men have been known to act in all sorts of ways when their girlfriends go out without them. Some are cool with it; others ask a ton of questions, still, more want to hear from you every step of the way.

If your guy sulks that you’re going out without him, it could be that he’s sad you’re not spending time together. It’s not OK if you guys do have a healthy amount of time together, and this is your night away to be yourself and fill your cup.

If he’s acting in a possessive way about you going out, it could look like throwing out guilt or excuses as to why you shouldn’t go. If your boyfriend keeps suggesting plans that you should do with him instead, it’s time to have a real conversation about boundaries and expectations within the relationship.

Remember that time to yourself and time with friends is essential, you should always maintain healthy relationships with others outside of your romantic relationships.

The Stare Tactics

In other words, he never takes his eyes off you, especially in public or social settings. This isn’t to be confused with stealing a glance at you because he’s enamored with you. You may rightly assume that if your guy won’t let you out of his sight while you’re out and about, he’s got some jealousy issues going.

Even if he doesn’t fess up, you may notice it in subtle hints or questions he asks you. For example, suppose your guy steps away to refill your drinks, and someone passes by you. Perhaps they say good morning or ask for the time, and you give a quick response, and that’s that.

He should have been busy refilling drinks. Instead, your boyfriend kept watching you while he was away from your side, and when he gets back, he asks you what that interaction was about. You may have even forgotten about it by the time he asks because it was so insignificant to you.

It’s possible that a similar situation could occur and he noticed and ask you about it. Then again, we’re talking more about patterned behavior or that incident leading to an argument rather than a one-time nonchalant happening.

He Pulls Away

You know how your man typically acts. You spend enough time around him to understand how he expresses himself, how he behaves towards you regularly, and if something is off. If you guy is acting distant suddenly, pulling away, or just not treating you the way he usually does, jealousy could be at play.

He could be playing hard to get if he feels threatened or has insecurities. Instead of talking out what’s bothering him, he may be acting distant so that you’ll come to him, ask him what the deal is or try harder to please him.

It’s possible that when you sit down and have a talk about what’s bothering him, it will be something easily remedied and light-hearted, but the conversation could go the other direction too. Remember to keep an eye on the dynamics of your relationship; you don’t want to make it a habit of defending yourself against him feeling jealous.

He Gives You The Silent Treatment

This one seems counterintuitive, but it’s not. You would assume that if someone were feeling upset or jealous about something, they would want to be closer to you or be extra kind to you.

But, when someone is acting out of jealousy, they might respond by ignoring you, or giving you the full-blown silent treatment. Doing so may make them think that they’re getting even for the perceived wrong, but it’s not cool and not okay.

He Engages You In Power Struggles

Two of the everyday things we’ve mentioned throughout this how to tell if a guy is jealous guide are ego and insecurity, which are common issues when it comes to jealousy. According to Psychology Today, jealousy’s most common source is insecurity.

When people have low self-esteem or a damaged ego, they often act ways that exemplify those feelings of low self-worth they have. Because in their heart of hearts, they don’t feel worthy of themselves, they don’t feel they are attractive or interesting enough to keep you around.

Instead of working on those insecurities within themselves, they act out in jealous ways. By doing any of the number of things we’ve mentioned here or engaging or forcing power struggles within the relationship.

Instead of feeling secure and confident in his relationship with you, he feels insecure and jealous over things that don’t have anything to do with you.

That’s why it’s important to note that although guys get jealous over things, women “did” (usually inadvertently); it’s not a woman’s fault that he’s acting that way or even that he’s jealous. A jealous man is highly likely to work in jealous ways no matter what you do.

If you find yourself being sucked into power struggles within your relationship often, don’t engage it. If you’ve had several conversations about steering the relationship in a more positive direction to no avail, it’s time to move on.

Here’s What Matters In The End

Jealousy naturally occurs within friendships, family relationships, and romantic relationships. From time to time, there’s a good chance you may feel that jealous itch creeping in your life. In romantic relationships, especially, there are times when you feel that the connection you so cherish is compromised or threatened.

If a guy is feeling this way and not telling us, we may or may not be able to tell. With all of the information presented above, you should have some good insight into how your guy might be feeling. Sometimes you need to think intuitively about your relationship and your guy when you’re considering how to tell if a guy is jealous.

You don’t have to be alarmed if your guy exhibits some degree of jealousy within your relationship. It’s always best to monitor your feelings and talk things through with your partner early and often.

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