Advice on jealousy
I am a formerly monogamous Bi/Pan male, currently in a relationship with a poly-identifying Pan Non-Binary Person who I love very much. They have introduced me to poly over the last year plus (we will have been going out for two years in a few months) and I have even recently gotten a secondary bf with my primary's support. The problem is this: I am undoubtedly in a poly relationship, but I tend to think like a monogamous person, complete with jealousy. Also, I am fiercely private about my love life (except when my partners ask, of course) and often actually very sex-negative in my thinking in the abstract, especially when it comes to casual sex.
Recently, my primary went away for a week to a conference (of which only a few days have passed), and when they asked what boundaries they needed to abide by, I told them that being vocally emotional and kissing were fine but I was uncomfortable with anything else. Today, while we were talking on the phone, they told me they had made out with someone at the conference who was very chilled and ok with the boundaries we had set, and asked how I felt about that. I froze. I felt uncomfortable, and unhappy. Then, of course, I felt even more unhappy with my reaction because of the fact that my partner had followed the rules, and yet here I was reacting badly to it. This is the first time they have done even that much with anyone else while we've been a couple (apart from a few crushes and pseudo-dates) and I feel bad about that because I currently have a second partner who I have done everything short of penetrative sex with, and my primary has always been supportive and loving throughout. I have often called myself a hypocrite, enjoying the benefits of my partner's ideology while preventing them from acting on it due to my jealousy, although my partner has often said that they don't see it that way.
However, I think I need help. I want my partner to be happy and poly, and I would like to find happiness in polyamory myself as well, but times like this make me really worried that I won't be able to handle it no matter how much I want to. Does anyone have any advice, particularly people who have "converted" from monogamy to polyamory themselves?
Some other stuff:
Logically, I am certain that my partner loves me and that this won't change with them doing stuff with other people, but emotionally this is hard
Secondly, atm my secondary bf is also away (for a month) so I am feeling very isolated seeing as I cannot (or will not) discuss this with any of my friends or family
I understand your feelings and from what I can tell, you are basically in the grip of fear and letting it control you.
It doesn't make you a bad person. I can't judge you from a paragraph and neither should anyone else. You're basically being a bit of a scaredy cat ;) But you can change that.
I've been there too. I'm still a scaredy cat now sometimes. And yes, I used to be mono and used to be a complete insecure, jealous pain in the (peachy) *ss.
Of course it's easier to be the one having their cake and eating it, than being the one watching someone else eat it.
What are you afraid of? What's the worst case scenario? Address that and face it.
In terms of your partner's recent make-out... have you heard of the word 'compersion'?
It basically means "feeling genuine happiness for my partner's romantic/sexual endeavours".
You know how good those random kisses feel? How little they mean in terms of your life, but how you're so glad to have taken that moment? Can you feel any happiness, any compersion, about your partner having that joy?
It's not just about jealousy
Poly (for me) is about asking myself:
In terms of jealousy
Notice that I didn't say "am I able to be a robot and feel nothing but happiness when my partner is active?"
For me, jealousy and insecurity happens.
We all feel it differently.
When I kiss someone, my partner goes quiet for a couple of minutes, buries it, puts on her brave face and is usually (on the surface) ok. When she kisses someone, I feel like someone punched me in the stomach, I get a dramatic blind white flash of shock and horror, I burst into tears, about half an hour later, I put on some very loud music and then I'm ok. The next day, it's no big deal.
Just because I seem to take things harder than her, does that mean I'm not cut out for poly? I don't think so. We all react differently.
So what I'm saying is... jealousy does happen, it does get easier, but it does rear its head randomly, even if you're extremely evolved. If you feel jealous, it doesn't mean you're not cut out for poly. It means you have to work on your own insecurities.
Remember - a partner can leave you even if you're monogamous. It makes no difference.
Do you need to hear about it?
I used to think that I had to hear about everything. To be truly poly, I had to hear all the gory details and be ok with it. Because if they made me uncomfortable, I'd be hiding, wouldn't I?
Well, God, no.
All I need to know these days is that they're involved in a sexual relationship. I don't need to know what they've done, how long they did it for, or any details whatsoever.
Because it drives me crazy. I paint all kinds of ridiculous images in my head that don't need to be there.
I wish I was able to say "tell me everything, that really turns me on"... but I'm afraid I'm just not wired that way!
However... I'm not suggesting you dash wildly in, declaring "sleep with anyone you want, starting today, I'm evolved!"
Look at your expectations. I don't mean rules. But what do you expect? What does your partner expect? How can you compromise?
"Ok, if we become open to secondaries"
Then discuss those things. Don't dictate. Compromise.
Guidelines (if you choose to use them) are there to help ease the blow; not to control each other. They do get forgotten at times. But without them, in my relationship at least, we were in 'Single Person Mania', completely not considering each other at all and expecting each other to just sit and applaud us for our fun times. Fun for the person doing it; rubbish for the other one.
What I'm saying, in my usual long and babbling way, is (in my opinion) yes... it would be more fair to allow your partner(s) the freedom you expect. Be brave. Be sensible and know what you want and what works for them.
Use internet tools, books, poly groups, therapy, whatever you need, to help you deal with your insecurity.
Decide if you'd rather they rip the plaster off and just jump into bed with someone else so you can see that the world doesn't fall down - or do it carefully, with fair guidelines that are not hypocritical. Don't hide behind them.
What you can control is how you choose to be in response to it. You can choose to just REACT to high emotion. Or you can choose to ACT WITH INTENTION once is blows through and you stable out a bit from internal stormy weather.
In my world, they'd have the right to constructive feedback.
I would have been like this:
1) Feedback: Thank you for being honest and telling me. I appreciate this.But that's me years later. Young poly me wasn't nearly that good at emotional articulation. LOL. Live and learn.
I wrote a post about it in my blog here:
I found myself jealous and upset even though MrS has done exactly what I told him I wanted. Ouch! Our initial reaction to things comes from many places - only one of which is our logical mind. Don't be upset with yourself because you are human! Just because you find yourself having a certain response "in the moment" doesn't mean you are a hypocrite or "doing it wrong". Others have posted excellent advice about how to process these feelings and learn more about yourself in the meantime.
Breathe...and then enjoy the roller-coaster.
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