I have a favorite emotion, and it’s jealousy. Picture me swimming in a pool of it while also enjoying it as a refreshing beverage and you’re basically looking at my ideal Sunday — fuck brunch. I want to feel things. Deeply. Because if it weren’t for jealousy, how would I affirm my knowledge that I actually give a crap? 

I may like jealousy, but I also know it tends to come up when I’m needing or longing for something in my situationship. Instead of sitting in a blind-jealous rage, I’ve learned that it’s often best to address your jealousy head on. So, whether you’re in an open relationship or are pursuing something casual,  here’s how to deal with jealousy while you’re dating.

1. Communicate how you’re feeling. 

It can be hard to admit when you’re jealous, but talking about how you’re feeling can really open up the lines of communication. Sure, you’ll be more vulnerable (gasp), but at least you won’t be alone in your spiraling thoughts. Get to the root of the issue. Whether the person you’re seeing is spending time with someone else or paying too much attention to the bartender, speak your piece in the moment or forever hold your peace. Especially when you’re dating casually, communication is key.

2. Use it as an aphrodisiac. 

Yes, it’s true: Going green is a sign that your physical attraction to the other person is alive and well. Jealousy feels uncomfortable, so doing something that makes you feel good is a great way to deal with those powerful feelings. Talk about your jealousy before you get physical for an extra-good time.

3. Don’t fight jealousy with jealousy. 

You may be tempted to pull out some tricks of your own and make your person jealous: Resist the urge. You know you don’t have time for games, so don’t play them. No matter how casual your relationship is, making the other person jealous can backfire on you quickly and doesn’t send a clear message. Again, talk to your boo and be upfront about how you’re feeling.

4. Manage your expectations. 

Your casual flame can be super into you and still feel attraction toward someone else — that’s just facts. If your first reaction to that is, Then off with their head!, you may need a reality check. Whether you’re waiting to define the relationship or just keeping things open, you can expect there to be other people in the mix. You can’t control whether or not the person you are dating wants to give attention to someone else, but you can control your reactions.

5. Trust your instincts. 

Sometimes jealousy can feel like a pair of high-rise jeans after a big meal. When you feel it in the pit of your stomach waiting to be unleashed into a blind rage, it’s time to reevaluate the situation. Trust yourself: You may need to make your boundaries clearer. No one deserves to be uncomfortable. Unless they are wearing Spanx.