So I’m just going to post my tried-and-true method (FOR ME) of dealing with my own jealousies here for the edification of those that sought me out and for the group at large. I have been non-monogamous for six years. In that time I have struggled with A LOT of jealousy. I wish I could say that it goes away. It does not. At least not in my experience. What it DOES do is get easier and take on a different meaning.
I don’t judge myself for my jealousy, I acknowledge it. It’s just a feeling same like happiness, anger, sadness. I read a book once that said our feelings are like children. When a child cries it’s not effective to yell at it to stop crying, stuff it in the closet, or run away from it. You pick the child up, soothe it, and then figure out what’s wrong with it. Our feelings are no different. Feelings are signals. They alert you to conscious and unconscious beliefs you hold about yourself and your partners. Jealousy can be a remarkable tool for self discovery if you allow it to speak to you.
I acknowledge that jealousy is just my response to these things, that it’s a part of my emotional index. I say things like “My partner is on a date and I’m feeling jealous, what’s for dinner?” I try not to treat it like it’s this special circumstance that’s worthy of some dramatic response. I just acknowledge that it’s there. If you give your feelings their air time, they move on faster than if you struggle against them. Sometimes just acknowledging it takes a lot of its power away.
I don’t run from it, I run towards it. I lean into it. I notice it’s there and I go “Huh, what’s that about? Let me take a look.” Sometimes, I know right away what it’s about. Sometimes, I have to do a little digging. Whatever the case is, I sit with the discomfort and allow it to speak to me. Sometimes, it’s all about me. My insecurities and fears and hang ups. Sometimes, it’s because my partner is doing something that triggers those things (NOT that they’re responsible) and it may mean that I have a need that isn’t being met in my relationship that I need to figure out and address. Sometimes, it’s because I didn’t eat lunch and I’m hangry. It varies. It’s never the same every time. So I find out what it is and I make moves based on that information.
if I deem it necessary (and often I do not) I talk to my partner about it and this is the key component-I ASK FOR WHAT I NEED. Notice I said “ask” and not demand. Sometimes I just need them to hear me out. Sometimes, I need them to reassure me. Sometimes I need them to do something specific (like take me on a date, make more time for me, etc). I let them know that I’m struggling with this and invite them to help me with it if they can. They may not be able to or they may not want to but I offer them a way to support me. The tricky part in this comes in making sure your request is reasonable.
I remind myself that I’m more than likely doing the same thing with others or will be doing the same thing, that we agreed together to live this way, and that whatever my partner is doing isn’t about me at all. It’s about them seeking to make their lives happy and fulfilling for them.
Now this advice comes with the assumption that you’re in a healthy relationship with someone who genuinely cares about you. This strategy is null and void if you’re dealing with a person who is treating you poorly, not being transparent, or mishandling their relationships. All the jealousy advice in the world won’t help you get through that. This also won’t work if you approach your Polyamory from the vantage point of unwillingness to work through the discomforts or wanting ease. Jealousy is a funky emotion. It takes some fortitude and industriousness to navigate.
That’s really it. There is no magic. No special trick that gives us the cheat code out of dealing with it. Each person is unique and will have to find their OWN ways of dealing with the jealousy in their lives. Many of us are arriving to the feelings of jealousy for the first time. The constructs of monogamy are designed to shield us from experiencing jealousy in our relationships. It’s going to take a while and a number of times dealing with your jealousy before it becomes less acute and you are less affected by it. But that time will come if you put forth the effort to learn how YOU INDIVIDUALLY can effectively manage it for yourself.
Signed, a regular jealous human being who is every bit Polyamorous.
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