Jealousy is a normal human emotion that is universally experienced, and which can be expressed in a multitude of healthy and unhealthy ways.
There. That’s all I have to say on the subject. Or rather, that’s all I wish I had to say. As it turns out, there is actually a great deal to say on the subject of jealousy, especially when it comes to Polyamory. So, because there is just too much to talk about to fit entirely in a single blog post, “Hello Jealousy” will become a running series with new entries made every few weeks. But, for now, I just want to talk about the basics.
As I stated a moment ago, jealousy is a normal and very natural human emotion. Yet, for some reason, it is the number one question asked of most Polys. If we had a nickel for every time a person asked us, “But don’t you get jealous?”, I am convinced Polys would be the richest people on the planet. But more frustrating than the question (for me at least) is the reaction I get when I invariably respond, “Yes, of course I do. Sometimes a lot. It really depends on the relationship.”
Most of the time, the person asking the original question just sort of stares back at me, and I’ve come to the conclusion that people just don’t know what to say upon hearing such an honest answer. I believe that, in their minds, Polys have somehow escaped the bonds of monogamy by transcending such a basic and primitive emotion. And, maybe some Polys have, but I’m not one of them. And, quite frankly, I’ve never met one that has.
What people fail to realize is that polyamory and monogamy are exactly the same when it comes to the potential for jealousy. From having to share time with metamours, to watching your longtime partner experience NRE with someone new, jealousy is just a normal part of polyamory. But, there is one advantage to being Poly in this arena, and that’s the openness with which jealousy is discussed.
From my past experience dealing in monogamy (and I truly am solely speaking for myself), jealousy was always put out there as a hugely negative thing. If my partner expressed jealousy, I felt compelled to view it as controlling behavior and a lack of trust.
If I, on the other hand, experienced jealousy, I immediately felt guilty and buried the feeling until it, eventually, passed.
I have since learned that both of these responses were…less than optimal, and that I was actually doing incredible harm to both myself and my relationships by not looking deeper into what I felt and why. And, essentially, that’s what this series is about, how to really look at jealousy.
So, here’s my first bit of advice on the subject: Rather than ignore jealousy, learn to embrace it. Once that happens, you can really start to examine the deeper feelings underneath it. More often than not, I have found that my own jealousy can be narrowed down to a single phrase, “I don’t feel special”, and saying that to a partner is always a great deal easier than using the blanket statement “I’m just jealous”. By being honest with yourself about the root cause of your emotions, you can begin truly opening up to your partners about the vulnerabilities and insecurities you’ve been keeping silent. This will help lay a foundation of trust upon which you can start to build a strong relationship. Remember, jealousy is not always a negative thing. It is a strong emotional reaction, it exists, and it’s much more normal than you think.
See you in the next installment!