Hey UP, I've done some thinking about this subject and I think I've got my ideas in order. I get the distinction you're making about individual relationships versus underlying emotional drivers. And I think I understand why people here don't seem inclined to engage in the logical way you want... it's just way too personal for us. Many of us have mono family, friends, or partners who've accused us, implicitly or explicitly, of looking down on them and considering them dysfunctional because we've chosen a different model of loving. We know from experience that they *don't* deserve to be looked down on and are in no way of necessity dysfunctional, so we've been hurt by those accusations and are offended on behalf of our mono allies when someone else presents with those beliefs.
On to the question at hand! I'm going to start at the most basic level -- is jealousy, in. and of itself, unhealthy? I think it's not. Rather, I think it can be a useful part of one's emotional ecosystem. The way I'm thinking about it is not unlike how a century ago we thought wolves were bad because they killed game animals and we liked game animals, but in time we came to understand and value the role of the wolf. Something that seems bad and scary can actually have its place.
To continue the analogy, obviously we don't want uncontrolled wolves roaming our streets and eating our babies, we want to keep them in their proper place, in the wild, and will trap and re-release them if they wander too far. Similarly, we don't want jealousy -- or any of our feelings, really, but especially not a dangerous one like jealousy -- to be uncontrolled.
We need to manage our feelings and work with them, but in and of themselves they are neither bad nor good, they are merely neutral -- it's how much prominence we give them, how much intensity, how we let them affect us and manifest in our actions that matters. Does that make sense?
So, what useful role could jealousy possibly play? I think it can actually play a very useful role in letting us know when we may be being mistreated, when our emotional needs are not being met, and when we may be losing a relationship, or an aspect thereof, that we would be better off keeping.
How does this model of jealousy translate to healthy or unhealthy relationships? Let's say you're monogamous (since that's the model most people start with). You may have uncontrolled jealousy. That's a problem. You could become poly without ever resolving that problem and, sadly, some people do just that, to disastrous results. Alternately, you could examine it, deconstruct it, and control and manage it. At that point your relationship will be healthier whether you stay mono or move on to become poly. If you do the latter you'll likely have *much* more success with your ventures into poly than a person who has uncontrolled jealousy, but nothing says you have to go poly.
You may have managed, healthy jealousy and yet still feel like monogamy is an emotional need for you. Why? Maybe it just hurts too much to think of your partner loving someone else romantically. But wait, wouldn't that mean you have uncontrolled jealousy? No, you may be analyzing your reactions, correctly assessing your limits and place of greatest fulfillment, and responding calmly and appropriately. But you may realize that this desire for a monogamous partner, and the pain when you don't have that, is *still* a fundamental, natural, even integral part of the way you love. That doesn't make you bad! That doesn't make you wrong! That doesn't make you unevolved or unhealthy or anything like that. Not everyone can do poly and stay true to themselves. What matters, and makes you healthy or unhealthy, is how you recognize, explore, accept, and live by who and what you are and the natural shapes and limits of your feelings.
To assume that anyone who feels jealousy strongly enough that they're not suited to poly is automatically unhealthy, or hasn't examined and worked on their darker issues, is a bias, pure and simple.
Does all of that make sense? Do people agree? Am I missing something?
Me, 30ish bi female, been doing solo poly for roughly 5 years. Gia, Clay, and Pike, my partners. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler.