In polyamory, jealousy can be a dirty word. A person should be self-actualized and thrilled their lover is getting laid. But what if jealousy is positive, and shows energy and investment in your relationship? That sounds great—but what do you do when the green monster rears its head?
Here are four steps.
1) Discover your relationship intention
2) Define exactly what you are feeling
3) Trust your gut
4) Use jealousy to evolve yourself and get more of what you want
What is your intention in your relationship?
Intention is instrumental in assessing what to do when jealousy arises. Are you primarily looking for sex? Love? Stability? To build a community?
When my marriage was open I dated a married man (also poly) who I felt objectified by. Being objectified can be fun if that’s what you’re looking for but I wanted more depth. I felt hurt and jealous of the other women he dated. I decided to break up with him. Then I met a man who on our first date brought me a bouquet of vegetables. On my profile I’d stated I wanted to be courted and that I loved organic vegetables. With my new lover I got my relationship intention met of deeper connection, even though he had two other lovers—I experienced no jealousy.
What exactly are you feeling?
Jealousy encompasses many different emotions. Are you feeling abandoned? Lonely? Threatened? Hurt? Strong emotions show, you care—this is good! I was recently at a conference where a friend was bemoaning his lackluster relationships with his three girlfriends, none of whom would drive the thirty minutes to his house. They weren’t invested. Jealousy and passion make great bedfellows.
Define exactly what you are feeling. Do you feel lonely when your partner is with someone else? Hurt? Be specific. When my husband got a new lover, I was happy for him, except when he was late coming home for family time with me and our kids. I felt territorial. We tightened our agreements around family time, and the issue resolved itself.
Trust your gut
Sometimes polyamory is pretty word for a bad dating situation. Ask yourself, does the relationship basically work for me? Does it come easily? Or am I in a processing nightmare? Some people are lousy at relationships, and have little generosity or awareness. These people are not great polyamorous or monogamous partners. Sometimes it’s just not right.
Use jealousy to evolve yourself and get more of what you want
Read about how other poly people set up their agreements and resolve issues. Poly is an opportunity to think out of the relationship box. Do what works for you. I have asked new lovers to be exclusive with me for a mutually agreed upon time, so we could build a foundation.
Know the poly “rules” then feel at liberty to break them and make agreements that work for you and your partner. It’s important not to trade all the monogamy rules for a new set of poly rules. In some relationships I am willing to set it up one way, in other relationships I want a different agreement. There are so many ways to set up your relationship—no one way is right. If you are not happy, keep working with your partner and yourself until you are.