Hanging on to a failing relationship just to make yourself feel good can make you an alcoholic, says a study.
When a person's self-worth is tied to their romantic relationship, the effect of negative events or emotions is magnified. When this happens, believing their partner is cheating can lead people to use alcohol to cope.
"We all feel jealousy to some degree. Many people are in relationships that are less than ideal and use alcohol for different reasons," said lead researcher Dr Angelo DiBello from the University of Houston.
Romantic jealousy is a shared human experience but very little work has looked at how it is related to alcohol use, misuse and associated problems.
The team examined how different types of jealousy affect the link between depending on a romantic relationship for self-esteem and having alcohol-related problems.
They asked 277 people (87 percent female) about how dependent their self-esteem is on their romantic relationship, the satisfaction, commitment and closeness in their relationship, their jealousy and their alcohol use.
The results, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors
revealed that people whose self-esteem relies on their relationship turn to alcohol to cope because of jealousy.
These results were especially true for people who are less satisfied, less committed, and report feeling more disconnected from their partners.
"Given how common jealousy and being in romantic relationships are, this work helps to explain different associations that may negatively impact an individual's drinking," said Dr DiBello.
"The results will also highlight the association between these factors and show how our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are related in potentially harmful ways," said the authors.