A few weeks ago, I was comfortably ensconced on the couch at a friend’s house, casually chatting, and drinking a nice rosé (probably the last one of the season.) I don’t even remember what aspect of my poly life we were talking about, but I am sure it was something I didn’t think would trigger a reaction. And then…
“Oh no! I couldn’t do that! I am too jealous!” She said.
I replied with my standard response, “Ok. I know it’s not for everyone.”
“But really? Doesn’t it make you crazy? How can you share him like that?”
“No, it really doesn’t make me crazy at all.”
The truth is, I have never been a very jealous person. Perhaps that’s what makes this poly life such a good fit. I can’t say for sure. I once asked my best friend, “Can you think of any time in our past where I was jealous in a relationship?” Neither of us could think of a time. So, there is that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t “feel some kind of way” sometimes. When I do, I usually try to take the time to think about what’s really going on in my mind and work my way outward.
One of my former partners didn’t have any other partners when I met him, but eventually he met someone with whom he really connected. I was genuinely pleased for him. I knew there were things about our relationship that didn’t meet all of his needs, and I hoped this relationship would support him in the ways I could not. I DID, however, have to assess why I was feeling so very emotional about the whole thing, despite being happy for him and knowing it probably was a very good fit for him.
After some internal musings, I realized my concern was whether or not I would still have the easy access to his time that I had before he met her. He was my companionate partner. The one I called to make a quick run to the market and cook dinner together on a random evening. The one who went to Ikea with me, carried all the packages home on the train, AND put them together. We snuggled on the couch to watch movies just because he called and said he was coming over. What would happen when he had to share his time with two of us. Would he still want to spend time with me? Would he still be able to see me on the fly? How would our time spent together change?
“Love is infinite, but time is not!” -Poly people everywhere
Once I knew the concern was internal, I was able to recognize it as an insecurity of my own. I thought about it and decided to take a wait and see approach. I wanted to give all our relationships a chance to level and see how they came out in the end. Turns out, I didn’t have anything to worry about. The relationship we had didn’t significantly change. Occasionally he would come over and have to leave instead of stay, or he would take the train to her after we hung out, but essentially our relationship was on the same footing it always was.
Another time I had some strong feelings (or maybe you could describe it as jealousy) was when Benjamin met a play partner in his home town. We live two hours from each other by train and our time together has been spent mostly at his flat, which he shares with his wife and young daughter. This means our sexual adventures have been severely curtailed by the circumstances. But now he had found a new partner local to him AND he could share kinky play time with her because he could go to her place. Ooh I felt lots of feels.
Again, my strategy was to look inside. I examined myself to determine my concern. Just like last time, it had a lot to do with time. I was worried that he would spend more time with her than me and realistically, he very well could. But was that it? Why did that matter? When I looked deeper, I realized I felt insecure. What if he spent more time with her, and consequently explored new kinky things with her? Would I become less important to him? Would he still want to play with me? Just like last time, it came down to my own insecurity.
Once I knew what was going on in my own heart and head, I felt comfortable enough to talk to him about how I felt. I didn’t want him to be responsible for my feelings, they are mine to own and deal with, but I knew he would want to know and have the opportunity to understand what I was going through. We had a very good discussion, during which I revealed my insecurities about this new relationship. He reassured me. He reminded me that he wasn’t going anywhere, and he cares for me, and how special our relationship is to him. We agreed to check in occasionally to see how I was faring with my insecurity about the situation, but I never wanted, nor did I ask him not to see her. Today they are lovely friends as well as play partners. I am often thankful for her because she meets needs for him that I cannot, (only partly due to her closer proximity to him.)
So, yes, sometimes there are “jealous” feelings. There is no guarantee you won’t have these same feelings in a monogamous relationship either. Jealousy is not a problem unique to the polyamorist. Sometimes you have to look inside to see what is really going on. Sometimes you have to confess less than admirable feelings to your partner. You might have to be vulnerable in a world that doesn’t always value vulnerability. Sometimes you have to ask for support for your insecurities and trust your partner to hold those feelings safe for you.
It’s important to note, the reward of being open and vulnerable with your partners, sharing your real feelings, and growing together through the support you can give each other in these times, is very worth the effort.
How do you handle jealousy?