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-   -   How to explain a lack of jealousy? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23288)

MeeraReed 04-26-2012 04:57 PM

How to explain a lack of jealousy?
I suppose I could add this to another thread, since it's similar to the "Polys Not Jealous?" and to other threads about explaining/ defining/ defending poly to friends & family.

But I'll make a new thread to get more focused responses. Maybe I'm just re-treading old ground here, but bear with me.

Last night, my mom and I were discussing my dating life. She is a very supportive and open-minded person, came of age in the late 1960s, always discussed sex openly with me since childhood and has been a positive influence on my life.

I see her frequently and sleep at my parents' house every so often because of my complicated commuting schedule (I have two jobs & grad school in three different locations), plus I help my mom take care of my grandmother, and my parents "baby-sit" my dog a lot, etc. In short, I am close to my parents in what I think is a healthy way, and I need to be open with them about my day-to-day schedule for logistical reasons.

My mom was also extremely supportive when I had a sort of nervous breakdown in 2010 after my ex (and best friend in the world) blamed me for his sexual problems and dropped me from his life. (Yes, I've also been in therapy since then as well).

Since then, I have been even more open with my mom about dating-related stuff. I've talked to her about polyamory, about my feelings that I am non-monogamous in a permanent way, that I like being single and free to explore but that I also want to date in some way.

These discussions have been going on for a year and a half now. A few months ago I met a guy that I like quite a lot and am compatible with in many ways. He is, in addition to being the only person I have been with in almost two years, someone I feel comfortable exploring sex with, without feeling the need to fall in love. He's exactly what I was looking for--a friendship with a sexual component.

Neither of us want to be exclusive. He wants to find a life partner/ marriage partner in the next few years (I don't), and he's also much kinkier than me & has a much higher sex drive so he needs...well, a lot of stuff that I don't! I stopped seeing him for a couple weeks because I wasn't sure all that would work with what I was looking for & not looking for, but we got back together after communicating better.

Since then, he has dated/is dating others, and I go on dates occasionally but haven't met anyone I connected with. It's fun. I'm happy (and also really busy with school). I feel like I'm healing from my 2010 ordeal. I feel like I'm farther along on my journey to find what I want.

Sorry, this seems like a lot of backstory for one comment that bothered me!

Anyway, last night my mom & were talking. She wanted to know how things were going with my friend (him whom I am sleeping with). I explained that things are going well right now. She asked if we are both allowed to see other people. I told her, quite happily, that we are.

She got sort of quiet and said, "But won't that be hard? How can you stand the jealousy?"

I found myself getting flustered and unable to give her an answer.

Plus, I'm frustrated because, What the hell have I been talking to her about for the last year and a half?

I have absolutely, definitely, talked to her about how:

1) jealousy does happen in open / poly relationships and working through it is part of the process

2) I feel I am simply less prone to jealousy than other people; I hardly ever experience sexual jealousy at all

3) I've been doing reading and research (books like "Sex at Dawn") on the theory that humans might be more "wired" to share partners than "wired" for jealousy, and that jealousy might be a social construct rather than a biological drive

4) I would so much rather deal with the complexity and issues of having multiple partners than be with only one person forever. It's not even really a choice; this is the way I need it to be.

So...why is my mom still asking me about how I can stand to do what I'm doing? Why was I unable to come up with a simple answer to her question?

Here are some things which are true, but that I can't say to my mom:

"My lover is a sexual sadist, and while I'm enjoying the rougher sex, I'm not a masochist so I can't meet all his sexual needs. He is looking for a kinkier girl to do things that I can't do with him. While I might experience some mild jealousy when he finds someone he can share that with, I expect I can work through those feelings. I even expect that our sex life will improve when he has another outlet for his sexuality."

"It would be hypocritical of me to not want him to date others, when I am also looking for another partner to explore some sexual things that aren't my lover's cup of tea, such as talking dirty, role-playing, and giving oral sex for an extended amount of time. He is encouraging me to explore things with others."


I suppose I could tell her the simplest truth, that we are both open-minded and comfortable with sex and do not want to restrict each other from exploring other things.

But I think my mom understands that, she just doesn't understand how that will work in reality, in practice not theory.

This is somewhat new to me, so I don't really know how it will work in practice myself! That's part of the process.

Also, I can't describe my relationship the way poly people would, because what we're doing isn't quite poly. I can't say, "We're in love and committed to each other even though we can see other people," because that's not what we're doing.

So, I don't know...maybe my lack of jealousy comes from the fact that I regard my lover as a good friend (not someone I'm in love with), and I would no more restrict his freedom to see others than I would limit my friends from having other friends...

But I know that even if I fell in love with someone, I would still feel the same way. I just don't believe that relationships must be possessive or exclusive.

Is there any way that I can explain this so my mom understands it? Should I try talking to her more about this? Or should I just talk to her less?

I know she's worried that I'm on a path to unhappiness, when I've already experienced so much dating-related unhappiness in my life.

But I think my past unhappiness came from me not being in tune with what I really wanted in terms of non-monogamy.

I am leaning toward thinking that non-monogamy is pretty much an orientation for me, and maybe that's how I should explain it to people????

dingedheart 04-26-2012 06:23 PM

how about ...yes mom it is sometimes hard but I've never had a really horrible jealous streak so its manageable. It's not that bad actually.

MeeraReed 04-26-2012 07:26 PM


Originally Posted by dingedheart (Post 134036)
how about ...yes mom it is sometimes hard but I've never had a really horrible jealous streak so its manageable. It's not that bad actually.

Huh. That sounds really simple! :)

dingedheart 04-26-2012 07:50 PM

Too simple? and wont work?

nycindie 04-26-2012 08:05 PM

Well, as a start, I definitely recommend against telling her he's a sadist! :eek: :rolleyes: LOL

I like Dinged"s suggestion.

When I've had these discussions with friends I usually say something like:

"You know, I've never really been a very jealous person. And when I care for someone, I want them to have the same freedoms that I want. If jealousy ever has come up, I can usually deal with it by looking at the situation objectively and being honest. I would rather people tell me what is going on than pretend they aren't seeing anyone else. I don't want someone I'm involved with to feel like he has to hide stuff from me."

MeeraReed 04-27-2012 03:59 AM


Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 134044)
Well, as a start, I definitely recommend against telling her he's a sadist! :eek: :rolleyes: LOL

LOL, I agree on that one.

(He identifies as a sadist, but I think he must be at the very non-hard-core end of the spectrum. It's just a part of the stuff he likes to do. He also likes cuddling a lot more than I do, which I find sort of funny.)

Thanks, and good suggestions. Dingedheart, I think your simple suggestion would work just fine.

I'm sure I've just been overthinking things.

nycindie 04-27-2012 06:17 PM


Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 134095)
I'm sure I've just been overthinking things.

I think that people who tend to get really jealous are kind of fueled by our culture. By that, I mean that we see stories of jealousy everywhere -- songs, movies, books, TV, advertising -- and the majority of those images usually justify the jealousy in some way. It has become the accepted norm in Western society. People say things like, "you have every right to feel jealous."

So, when highly jealous people, or people who have just never challenged the notion of jealousy, meet people like us who do not tend to get very jealous, they don't know what to think! They don't understand how we could possibly say we are not jealous types. Especially if we are also women - aren't we supposed to be super-emotional, clingy, and hysterical at the thought of "our men" being with someone else?

You see it here when someone just considering poly comes here and asks, "How do I handle the inevitable jealousy I will feel?" Um, how about seeing what happens when you get there? You might not feel jealous very much, or at all!

No matter how much you try to explain yourself, they are still seeing things thru their own filters. It just doesn't seem possible, in their eyes, not to be jealous. When I first started telling one friend of mine about poly, I was seeing Shorty and Dreamy - both of which were very casual, non-boyfriend, FWB-type relationships. She brought up jealousy and kept insisting I was setting myself up for a world of hurt, and that if I let guys "have what they want without expecting anything back," they would take advantage of me, or even be abusive. Never mind the fact that what my lover-friends already were giving me was exactly what I wanted, nor that in my 52 years I have never tolerated an abusive relationship, but the fact that I was not jealous or possessive seemed to her like I had lost my mind! As if, in order to make a relationship work, I have to demonstrate how much I NEEEED to be the focus of a man's life and that I won't tolerate "straying." Oy!

laughingowl 05-03-2012 08:13 AM

Are you Jealous
I love X, and I want them to be happy.

I may be sad at time, or slightly envious if they find happiness with others, but I am Happy that they are happy, and happy that they still want to spend time with me also.

Did you regret when Dad, would go drinking with his buddies. Sure you might have liked to have him at home, and some times you may even convince him to spend some more time with you, but you realized drink beer with his buddies made him happy, so you wanted him to do it some (as long as you still got time also)... For me relationships are the same way, I want X to be happy, and if thats with another person, I am happy for him (if sometimes envious), and I am even more happy, when he then wants to spend time with me...


Snowdancer 05-06-2012 01:57 AM

My GF and I have an open relationship. The first time she met someone I felt a little funny about it. She then met a couple of others and that didn't affect me at all. Granted she didn't get interested in any of them, but I have become increasingly more confortable with our own relationship. Last time she went out to meet someone, I was disappointed for her that things didn't go a little better. Evidently jealousy isn't a huge issue for me either.

HotPepper 05-06-2012 11:49 PM


Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 134029)

2) I feel I am simply less prone to jealousy than other people; I hardly ever experience sexual jealousy at all

3) I've been doing reading and research (books like "Sex at Dawn") on the theory that humans might be more "wired" to share partners than "wired" for jealousy, and that jealousy might be a social construct rather than a biological drive

Reading this book too, haven't gotten to the section on jealousy yet. But I very much relate to your experiences on jealousy.

As a former serial monogamist, after I left my first wife she sought revenge by sleeping with a male friend (she left evidence for me to find). I remember thinking two things: that I was happy for her - she went out and had sex with someone other then me and enjoyed it - great! And I also remember thinking why couldn't she have done that while we were married (which I quickly dismissed as I thought I must be the only male on Earth who could think such odd thoughts).

Now that I realize I'm not nuts for having these thoughts, I also realize that I want my lover to have other lovers. It's not lack of jealousy (I''ve never experienced jealousy), maybe it's lack of interest in an exclusive partner. By wishing our partners to have relationships with other lovers, we insure that there is less burden on us individually to exclusively support their relationship needs.

I wonder, is there a word for wanting your lovers to have other lovers?

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