By Amanda E.K and Sante Suffoletta
Bookmark for later use. You’re welcome 🙂
One of the most common questions folks in open relationships hear is “How do you deal with your jealousy when seeing a partner with someone else? I couldn’t do it.”
Below you’ll find a quick reference guide to dispel key myths about jealousy, and tips on how to avoid and manage your jealousy so that you can make informed choices to improve the quality of your relationships—whether you’re new to non-monogamy or you’ve been poly for years.
Fallacies About Jealousy:
- Jealousy is bad/wrong – Jealousy is completely normal, and there’s no need to shame yourself or anyone else when this feeling comes up. It’s human to feel jealous. Allow and acknowledge the feeling for what it really is. People who embrace their feelings eventually become masters of them. So don’t push them down or try to pretend they aren’t there.
- If I feel jealous, I can’t be in an open relationship – This is a common myth among people new to open relationships. They think if they feel jealous they can never navigate openness. Or they feel that being enlightened about non-monogamy means never getting jealous. However, just as every human can feel fear, pretty much every human can feel envy or jealousy at times.
- With practice, eventually I won’t ever feel jealous again – Even the most experienced and zen people are human and have feelings. Some might (or might pretend) to feel less than others, or they might get better at identifying and dealing with those feelings over time, but the feelings and their humanity never go away. We just learn to identify and deal with them better.
- Monogamy is safer than non-monogamy – Monogamy does not guarantee your relationship will last longer or include less jealousy. In fact, when we look at divorce stats of monogamy vs open relationships, non-monogamous partnerships often last much longer because they have a deep foundation of love, communication and trust needed to effectively navigate all the nuances of non-monogamy. Monogamous partners will still be attracted to other people, may fall in love or may desperately want to fuck their friends. But monogamy often creates an environment where people are afraid to talk about their feelings with their partner, so they end up suppressing them, or cheating.
- Non-monogamy is better – All this might make you think non-monogamy is better. Definitely not. Both monogamous and non-monogamous partners will have to deal with normal human emotions at times. We at Playlove want to help people navigate those emotions and have power over them. What is important is that you know you have a choice and resources.
Tips to Avoid Jealousy:
- Communicate – Always. Especially when it’s hard or weird. If you aren’t already doing that, start now. If you have a barrier, get help. Talk to folks on Playlove. Or wait for our blog on communication (coming soon).
- Trust – Trust is like Kryptonite to jealousy and envy. It is the foundation of any relationship. Trust has two parts, and both have to be there for it to work. You and your partner(s) all have to trust each other and you also have to act in a trustworthy manner.
- Forgive – This includes forgiving your partners and yourself for your humanity and innocent mistakes. We are all human. Forgiveness helps create and nurture an environment of safety and trust.
- Self awareness – Be aware of your fears and emotions. Learn to identify when they are running the show and own them. Separate what actually happened from what your emotions and fears are telling you is happening.
When You Get Jealous / Envious:
- Take a deep breath. Walk away for a bit if you are triggered.
- Acknowledge your feelings. Don’t suppress them. It’s fine to say to yourself and your partner(s) out loud, “I am feeling jealous / envious right now and I just need a minute.” Understand that it’s totally OK and you are just human.
- Identify what specific event just happened that triggered you (e.g. my partner told me they are attracted to someone else).
- Identify what you are telling yourself about that event and what it means. Recognize the difference between what actually happened and what you are telling yourself it means (e.g. I think it means my partner isn’t attracted to me any more, I’m not enough for them, they are going to leave me).
- Identify any current or past fears / events that may be contributing to how you feel about this now (e.g. all my past partners have left me so I’m afraid this partner is going to leave me too).
- Take another deep breath. Stay away if you are still triggered.
- When you are ready, communicate with your partner and ask for reassurance. Share everything you just discovered. (e.g. “When you told me you were attracted to someone else, I got really jealous. I was scared you aren’t attracted to me anymore, I’m not enough for you and you’re going to leave me. Everyone I’ve ever dated has left me and I was afraid that you might too. I don’t want to lose you. Will you please reassure me that you are still attracted to me, you aren’t looking to leave me and you aren’t ever going to cheat on me?”)