Q: I’m in a committed relationship, but I get incredibly jealous when my girlfriend talks to other guys. Is this normal? How do I get over it?

A: Yep. We have all experienced those familiar pangs of jealousy as the object of our affection chats up another potential match. However, those pangs should gradually subside as you travel deeper into a stable relationship and build a solid foundation of trust with your partner. Since you’re still feeling pretty protective, even though you’ve already entered the “committed” stage, we have two possibilities here. Either your girlfriend is giving you good cause to be concerned—or you’re letting your insecurities get the best of you. Let’s figure out which one it is, shall we?

The first step, then, is to pinpoint exactly what is getting you worked up. Could it just be harmless chatting? If you’re not sure how to tell, there are some behaviors that signal it’s merely innocent conversation: She’s polite to other men when she talks to them, but not over-the-top gushy. She frequently involves you in those conversations. And she isn’t touching these guys, flipping her hair, or making goo-goo eyes at them. You know the drill. So be honest with yourself.

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“Maybe she's a talkative person and likes conversing with people and listening to other's opinions on subjects,” says Boston-based dating coach Neely Steinberg, founder of The Love TREP. If that’s the case, then you can take a deep breath. Your relationship is solid and stable, and your worries are overblown. That said, you need to learn to be cool with these kinds of interactions. Like Steinberg says: “Ultimately, you can't be in a relationship, at least not with any self-respecting woman, and bar her from talking to other men.”

If this reassurance is not enough, and you’re still jealous over harmless banter, the issue has more to do with you—so don’t pick a fight with your girlfriend. A couple of sessions with a therapist may do the trick, because you’ll better understand what you’re feeling and why. “You can even tell your girlfriend that it's an issue you're having, but you're talking with someone about it,” Steinberg says. “She'll respect that."

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But if you’re still not sure her conversations are innocent? Okay. Here are some real reasons to be concerned: She goes out of her way to focus on other men in attendance at a party. She isolates herself from you in social situations, so much so that it’s barely evident you are dating. And she laughs at other guys’ lame jokes, slaps their arms, flips her hair, bats her eyelashes in their direction, etc., etc., etc.

None of the above behaviors are okay, and you need to gently call your girlfriend out on it, giving her the benefit of the doubt—at first. Some women are naturally flirtatious. “Maybe she wasn't aware of how her behavior was affecting you, and now that she knows, she can alter her behavior accordingly,” says Steinberg.

Give her the chance to tone down the flirtation and err more on the side of friendly, but if she knows how you feel and still continues to act like a boy-crazy schoolgirl, know this: “She's doing it to hurt you and she's not relationship material,” Steinberg says. “The sooner you find this out, the better. You can move on to someone who will respect your needs.” Amen.

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ABOUT THE HOT GIRL: Claire Austen is a 20-something freelance writer, sports enthusiast, and polka-dot-lovin’ everygirl trying to bridge the gap between what men know about women and what women wish men knew. She gives smart, super-honest advice about your biggest dating and relationship conundrums.