‘My acne is ruining my love life and making me jealous’

There’s a guy on my course at college who I really like. But he’s already with someone. Even if he wasn’t, there’s no chance of us getting together because I have very bad acne and he is never going to fancy me. But sometimes I think, by the way he looks at me or how he stands, that he might fancy me. I spend hours at home thinking about his body language, and I keep a diary that’s often about him. If he talks to other students, friends or even tutors I feel angry and jealous. I value his company and don’t want to lose that through overanalysing and my jealous feelings. That’s happened before and I don’t want it to happen again. I had thought of therapy – would you recommend it?

What can you do for yourself

The good news is you recognise the situation for what it is, and your role in it. I hear from plenty of people just like you, but they’ve not connected the dots. They’re angry and jealous but put the blame on the people they fancy, rather than recognising it as an issue for them to deal with.

The feelings of jealousy you describe are very common for people struggling with confidence. You find someone you like. You become very invested in the person, reading a lot into small signals, gestures or things they say.

But you’re scared of rejection. So you don’t do anything. However, because you are in touch with the person all the time it’s inevitable you feel jealous and upset when you see them responding positively to others, or where you feel others might be able to date them when you feel powerless to do so.

All of this can set up a very unhealthy dynamic – where you feel worse about yourself, you don’t take any action, but you become annoyed with the person you fancy. Who, usually, has no idea about all of this going on in your head.

You say this has happened before and it may help to think about where the pattern started. Where do you think the jealousy comes from – is it about confidence, body image worries, past rejection or bullying, or feeling afraid of being rejected?

Don't be scared of rejection
Don’t be scared of rejection

If you think about when this happened before, what did you do – and what could have you done differently? What were you afraid of? And what were the consequences of your jealous thoughts and actions?

I often advocate writing about feelings and journaling as a source of self-help. However in your case it might be this is counterproductive, letting you fixate on someone who isn’t for you, rather than addressing other issues. If you’re going to keep your diary, perhaps you can use it to make plans to change habits, behaviours, thought patterns and actions that are currently not helping.

Living with acne

Acne is understandably going to affect your confidence, as well as potentially being painful and difficult to live with. I don’t know if you’ve discussed this with your GP at all but, if not, I would do so. Or if you have discussed it, go back and tell them how this is impacting on your life and discuss other treatments and camouflage options. You could also look at wider ways to care for your skin.

One thing I do hear from people with acne (and other skin complaints like rosacea) is they feel nobody will find them attractive because of their appearance. This can lead to understandable fears and worries over asking someone out. And because people don’t approach others for fear of rejection it can build up anxieties, which creates a vicious cycle where you daren’t talk to anyone you fancy.

Keeping yourself at a distance can be a form of self-preservation, but can also stop you getting into relationships you might enjoy.

If you do feel anxious or underconfident and you convey that in the way you approach people, then, unsurprisingly, they may not warm towards you. Again you can interpret that as being down to looks, but it might well be more about overall demeanour. Simply telling you to act more confident is no help whatsoever here, but counselling and coaching (including dating coaching) can be very beneficial (more on this in a bit).

Note, it won’t necessarily help you get more dates, but what it will do is make you less fearful of asking someone out, and coping better if you are rejected. Which you will be – we all are, it’s part of dating, albeit a not very nice part. Learning you can cope with rejection helps you feel better able to pick someone you like and find they like you too.

Confidence building and assertiveness books, courses or events could work for you. As might these tips on moving beyond the ‘friend zone’ and ideas on how to feel better about yourself.

Another option to consider is life coaching. This isn’t therapy but if you have set goals around trying to make life changes, having a coach who is supportive of you having therapy and works in conjunction with this, could help you.

Is therapy the answer?

Psychoanalysis might help if you need to explore in depth the causes of your jealous feelings and issues around esteem. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)  is good for tackling immediate problems and undoing problem habits.

As you are at college there may be therapy services available through your university. Or ask your GP for a referral (noting waiting times and availability may vary). Or you can refer yourself.

I’d recommend looking to talk to different therapists if you’re able and finding someone you do get on with, as you need to feel safe with them.

Next steps

Psychoanalysis might help
Psychoanalysis might help

For now, as much as you can, put him from your mind. Be friendly when you see him at college. Remember how he looks, sits or talks carry no secret signals about how he feels about you – or what you are worth.

As you’ve noted, he’s in a relationship, so isn’t for you. But there are many people out there you could date. Or you could enjoy being single. You don’t need to spend more time or energy fixating on someone who you know you can’t be with.

Think about joining wider hobbies or activity groups if this would appeal – not to meet someone (although it would be nice) but to give your confidence a boost, to have fun, and to feel good.

If you’re happier, more secure and busy it’s a much better place to approach potential dates from, than being anxious and assuming nobody’s going to like you.

The original article is at: telegraph.co.uk

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