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-   -   sexual versus emotional jealousy (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25353)

Cleo 07-04-2012 12:24 PM

sexual versus emotional jealousy
been thinking a lot about this lately and wonder what other people's views are.. could use some help dealing with my husbands pain and jealousy.

I have a 'steady' relationship with my boyfriend. My husband has met him casually a couple of times, and this weekend they met for a longer 'date' and had lunch and talked. My husband came back saying that he thinks that C (boyfriend) really loves me and is very serious about the relationship. He did not even blink when telling me this, I think he was happy for me, and not jealous at all. He knows I'm meeting C.'s kids for the first time this weekend and is completely ok with the fact that I spend 2 nights a week with him.

Now that same weekend I was away with my other partner, who I would describe as a very good friend with very nice benefits. We don't see each other that often and are not really involved in each others lives. Anyway, I came home with some bruises from kinky sex and my husband just flipped. He's been in full blown jealousy mode since Sunday and I don't know what to say or do to help him snap out of it. Its so different from the kind of jealousy I feel about my husband and his girlfriend. I'm jealous when he cooks for her.. when he helps her with stuff.. when he takes her to what I consider to be 'our' pub. What I would call jealousy of intimacy, emotional stuff. I don't understand the felings he has now and don't what to say to help him.
The fact that there was kinky sex involved doesn't help, although I am not really sure if its really about the kinky part (something we don't share), or just about the fact that I came home with visual evidence of having had sex.

(Conversely, I saw C last night and he did not exppress any jealousy at all. In fact, I think he was relieved that my encounter with other lover seemed to have been mostly about the sex.. I think HE is much more prone to emotional jealousy! So confusing!)

dingedheart 07-04-2012 01:22 PM

How exactly does he express his jealousy?

Has he used or connected that word to his reaction or is that your interpretation?

Cleo 07-04-2012 01:34 PM


Originally Posted by dingedheart (Post 142149)
How exactly does he express his jealousy?

Has he used or connected that word to his reaction or is that your interpretation?

he has definitely used the word jealousy (and even calls it obsessive jealousy).
he expresses it by telling me he is sad, jealous, can't stop thinking about it, plays movies in his head, feels left out, alone and weak.

sparklepop 07-04-2012 03:42 PM

So, your husband seems to be feeling jealousy... but the root of it is playing it over in his mind and other feelings. This is going to be long (I apologise, I really do waffle)... but I'll come to the idea of 'root' in a bit.

We have to see jealous outbursts (or even small moments) as flags. We can be quick to become frustrated over our partner's jealousy. But really, seeing the outburst is a signal to look into our relationship. What going on here? Is my partner happy?

To address your confusion over how complicated jealousy can be, I'll put myself out there and show you some of my complicated own experiences. Skip them if you want to.


(A) Never been jealous of my GF and her husband. Great compersion.
Trigger: living with them for three months, going back home to the UK, two days later, they had sex
Emotion: missing being there, missing her, wishing I could still be there with her doing those things
Fear: none

(B) Longterm insecurity over GF's online sub boy. Still good compersion.
Trigger: early poly mistakes. GF telling me too much. Seeing their messages. Watching them be in love.
Emotion: insecure about their love, some anger and resentment due to a lot of personal sacrifice I've made to be with her
Fear: that she loves him more, wants him more
Extra trigger: he's away, then comes back, then away, then comes back - instability

(C) My GF's other play partners. Varied.
Trigger: new people, new situations.
Emotion: sometimes fine, sometimes sexually threatened, sometimes emotionally threatened
Fear: that she will prefer sex, or fall in love with, one of them and be unhappy with me

So, jealousy can occur randomly, over the same people, or different people, for all of us! Yes... it's confusing!


Anger Masquerading As Jealousy
If possible, I do not want to know what my GF does in bed. Her husband always wants to know. He'll ask in front of me and she'll reveal all. That makes me furious. It makes my emotions violated. It takes away my free will, my choice. It makes my jealousy pangs worse - I hang onto it for longer.

This could be your husband's issue. It may not even be jealousy. It could be that his choice about what pictures his mind paints was taken away from him. Only he can tell you.


For me, jealousy works like this:
Event (trigger)
Jealousy (is really insecurity)

Only you know the reality (how secure your relationship with hubby is; how you feel for others; if a threat exists)

Your husband only has the outside view.
His view = what you tell him + what he sees + perspective + insecurity
total = needless worry

If the reality is that you'd like to leave your husband for someone else, obviously you need to address that.

If the reality is that you're happy and secure, he has to feel that too. That's partly down to him and partly down to you. A way to achieve that on your end, is through avoiding unnecessary worry triggers.


I once said a girl reminded me of my first love (worry trigger). I meant her always talking about herself. Would I want that in a long term partner? No. But I like it in secondaries, because it gives me a rest from talking. I find it entertaining. My GF became very insecure. That's not her fault - she can control her reaction (i.e. not hitting me with a frying pan) - but she can't control what triggers her.

Nowadays, when we start picking up on each other's triggers, we're careful to avoid them. And we don't always have the same triggers.

BUT .... some triggers can't be avoided.

My GF is uncomfortable because I spend a long time on dates, or stay overnight. The reasons for this are long, but valid.

My long dates trigger her fear that I will fall in love and leave her.
Because she can't relate. She knows that if she had dates as long as mine are, she'd probably be falling in love.
I'm not falling in love - so I explain that to her.

If I can't change the trigger (my long dates)? I help her understand why it doesn't need to be a trigger. She's sees that long date does not equal falling in love = less needless worry.

Why? What's the point of all this?

In poly, we focus so much on what we say after an event. We imagine that giving love and soothing is the answer to everything.

What about before the event? What about the things surrounding it?

How do you talk about your bruise-giver friend in general? How do you act when you come home? Do you think your husband is able to see the reality of it - that there's no threat?

I'm definitely not saying "completely censor yourself!" I'm saying that if something you do or say triggers a needless worry in hubby that doesn't need to be there, try to look at triggers.

If the triggers are a sign of something valid... i.e. you have the best sex of your life with bruise-giver and would leave your husband.... then you may want to address the truths of that.

How can you avoid them? Be more careful not to get bruises. ;)
That's impossible? Talk to him about why it triggers him and what you can do to ease that, so that it stops becoming a trigger.

Does that ramble make sense? ;)

My advice to you would be this....

Insecurity can rear its head with new people... BUT... also with steady people, when faced with a new situation.

Find out what triggered his insecurity (probably the bruises, but possibly something else).

Find out: why? what are his fears?

Then ask... "Am I saying or doing something on a regular basis that is scratching at that particular insecurity? Is there anything I can do to help? What do you need?"

Sometimes people cannot deal with their insecurity and sometimes people are needy and selfish. I cannot speak at all about your husband, because I do not know him.

I'm just a great believer in this phrase:

"If I'm not understanding something (insecurity warps my reality), explain it to me differently (be careful with my triggers). Work with me from a new angle until I get it. Nothing is impossible to achieve (reality)."


Aurelie26 07-04-2012 04:53 PM

You say it's confusing, and it is. Everybody is different.

My boyfriend likes the fact that my secondary loves me, and that I love him. He would hate the idea that it was just about the sex.

Speaking for myself, I could deal with my bf having sex with another, but it would kill me if he loved someone else, I would suffer from emotional jealousy. It does not bother me at all that my secondary loves his wife, and I dont think I would care if he loved another woman as well as us. Maybe it just shows that I love my bf more than my secondary, and that's why I dont want to share him.

My bf also hated me coming back to him marked up. For him sex is directly linked to the love that we have and he does not like BDSM at all, it turns him off to think of me liking, and allowing myself to be dominated or spanked. I do like it though, and he would not ask me to stop doing it. I also now make the effort to avoid going back to him with marks. Scott has stopped using a particular paddle which bruised my ass, and makes sure the restraints aren't to tight. I love being a sub to my dom, but I dont want to upset my man because of it, so I compromise.

CielDuMatin 07-04-2012 11:50 PM

leaving aside for a moment the mechanics of jealousy, I have noticed often that there are folks who say "screw whoever you want, but I am not going to feel good if you fall in love with them", and others who say "have whatever emotions you want with the person, but I will feel very bad if I have to think about you having sex".

I'm not really sure there's a logic behind who thinks what - maybe it's just a wiring thing.

So I wouldn't be surprised at the apparent contradiction - just work on the jealousy as others are suggesting.

dingedheart 07-05-2012 12:47 AM


Originally Posted by Cleo (Post 142151)
sad, jealous, can't stop thinking about it, plays movies in his head, feels left out, alone and weak.

Left out ...alone ...weak? How did you respond to all of that?

Weak ....because of having jealous feelings or not being apart of the kink?

turtleHeart 07-05-2012 04:49 AM

Have you two talked about whether or not marks/bruises/hickies are ok? At least one person I know isn't ok with them on himself or anyone he dates, no matter how visible, while others quite enjoy them.

Cleo 07-05-2012 12:54 PM

thanks all, your responses have given me a lot of food for thought.

CielduMatin, yes like you I do think that its a difference in wiring... either the sexual stuff bothers you or the emotional stuff. It's just hard to wrap my head around the things that are bothering him (and its equally hard for him to do the same for me). Yesterday we had a long talk where he voiced some his more hidden fears and anxieties which again confirmed for me that communicationcommunication and then some more communication really is the solution for many problems :)

sparklepop thanks for your detailed description of fears and triggers.
My husbands trigger definitely was the bruising, the physical evidence of sex that is very different from the sex we share. He felt lonely and left out and felt like he did not understand me anymore.

So far, we haven't discussed what would happen if my lover wants to see me again (we don't see each other often so this could maybe be a couple of weeks before it comes up). I think I won't discuss it before its actually there, and then we'll discuss my husbands boundaries (see my lover yes or no, have only vanilla sex, BDSM yes or no, no sex at all, etc)
I can be unpatient sometimes when it comes to these things but I think it will be much better to give him some time to process... he might feel differently about it all in a couple of weeks.
For myself, I know I could give up the BDSM stuff with my lover.. but I would have problems giving him up altogether, ie if my husband vetoed him completely. I don't think he will though.. we'll see.

dingedheart.. yes he felt weak because he was so jealous. He doesn't like feeling jealous and insecure and sees it as a sign of weakness.

Aurelie - yes I thought of your thread when I posted mine! There are more similarities... liek your BF, my husband can not only be very jealous of sexual acts, he can also be turned on by them. In fact his very first response to my BDSM stories from this weekend were... being slightly turned on. Our whole open relationship started with him wanting to watch me have sex with other men. It's very much a personal boundary he likes to push. But when he saw my bruised ass, something flipped for him and he wasn't turned on, just angry and sad and jealous.

GalaGirl 07-05-2012 12:57 PM

Is it a fear of your being vulnerable to the other lover? Like the other lover is close enough to hurt you to bruise (even if just in consenting rowdy fun sex)?


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