Yesterday, I posted for people to ask me anything on Instagram and in the responses polyamory, anxiety, and jealousy came up. The trifecta of breaking loose some serious frustration. But I’ve had coffee, so let’s do this.
Links are underlined.
Jealousy can occur in both monogamous and non monogamous relationships, despite our best intentions.
There’s this impression that if you feel jealous at all, you’re doing polyamory wrong. But feeling anxious, jealous, or insecure are totally normal feelings to have. It’s just not healthy to ignore those feelings or avoid addressing them because they like to come out one way or another, say in the form of resentment. In terms of jealousy, which can rear its head for a variety of reasons, it would seem suppressing that feeling is the go to move. “Oh no, I’m going to focus on acting like everything is fine and as long as I don’t look at the problem it won’t exist.” But problems don’t just go away, do they? And jealousy isn’t necessarily the problem, it’s the symptom of a problem, a little alarm bell if you will.
Sometimes it can be rooted in how you perceive yourself to be and/or how you perceive the relationship. In other words, you spend more energy on dissecting all the things you aren’t or your relationship isn’t, forgetting what brought you to the relationship in the first place. It’s pretty hard to bring all your best traits forward when you’re heavily focused on masking or overly apologizing for your flaws.
Everyone has things they want to work on within themselves, not a single one of us is perfect. I would say it’s more useful to acknowledge that “this person is this but I’m that” feeling as an invitation for figuring out where you are in yourself for yourself and to remember what you liked about yourself outside of these relationships.
Don’t punish your current partner(s) for your past partner’s mistakes.
When you’ve been hurt severely, it’s easy to live in that pain and react impulsively to anything that remotely reminds you of it. It’s not healthy to sabotage your current relationship by treating those triggering situations as if you were still in the past relationship, forcing yourself to relive a trauma to “get it right this time” and/or positioning your partner to be on the defensive/play the bad guy. Check in with yourself about where you are in your healing process and communicate needs if your partner is willing and able to provide support. Some types of trauma can require the need of a therapist or time just not being in a relationship, getting reacquainted with yourself. Take a deep breath. You got this.
As it’s been said many times before, communication is key.
It’s really not enough to just say you’re jealous and expect your partner to stop doing whatever is leading you to feel this way. Asking them to stop seeing other people who fulfill needs you can’t or won’t seems like a cruel thing to ask of someone and this verges on a more dangerous set of behavior of controlling or restricting your partner’s life. It might be time to revisit your feelings of polyamory if this feeling persists. David Bradford suggests “Remembering all the reasons you fell in love with them can help remind you of how great it must be for the budding metamor’s experience with your partner. Compersion can be a very tricky emotion to learn, but when you can embrace the happiness that is occurring for your partner, and their new partner, so many more experiences are possible.” (This was super helpful for me.)
Knowing that you can’t be everything to one person can be a difficult truth to grapple with, but relationships aren’t just about you getting your needs met or even to “have this person” as your own. It’s a partnership where, hopefully, through hell or high water, you get to have this intimate experience of another person being in your life and becoming a better version of themselves alongside you. If you make all your decisions in that relationship out of an unfounded fear of losing them, you are going to miss when they’re right in front of you.
Trust is also a thing.
Trust too little and you’ll always be suspicious of your partner, trust too much and you’ll be blindsided when problems bubble up to the surface. You have got to nurture the damn thing. While it is mostly on the individual people to address their trust issues, team work makes the dream work. Trust includes being able to own mistakes and put in the work to make amends and to give each other the space to do that. For some, trust has been broken so many times, they are forever locked inside themselves unable to recognize trustworthy behavior. If you’re on your own trying to navigate through this, find examples of trustworthiness by talking to friends and read everything you can get your hands on to expand your idea of trust.
It should also be noted that aggressively guarding yourself against…well, everything a person does is unhealthy. Opening up quickly to people and then withdrawing just as fast when you’re bothered by something can read as erratic and lead them to not trust your behavior at all. It’s important to stop and take a breath to regroup your actual thoughts about the situation and not just train yourself to unleash the fury every time you’re scared.
And as for anxiety…
Your anxiety is not intuition, even though we may have been right at times. Take a deep breath, if something seems amiss you need to be able to articulate why so you can address the problem correctly. Impulsive preemptive plans can lead us into some weird situations further down the road and it’s important to remember you’re not in this alone. Taking a moment to get a clearer view of a situation is not a crime, so have some faith in yourself and in the people you’ve chosen to surround yourself with. If you find that for some reason you can’t do that with the current company, it’s not the failure it might seem to be to leave that situation.
Keep your head up, remember spending so much time focusing on the darkness of our lives only trains us to forget the brighter side.
Until next time,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.
Zakkarrii Edsion Daniels