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Old 07-07-2013, 08:17 PM
Maglor Maglor is offline
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Default Ongoing Jealousy, causes and possible ways around it.

Firstly, hello world. I'm fairly new to talking openly about these things, so this feels a bit odd, but I'm going to try it. Largely I'm writing this as an outlet, since putting these things into a coherent form helps process them, but any additional advice from those who've dealt with similar feelings before would be helpful.

A bit of background. I'm currently in an open relationship, my partner (C) and I have been seeing one another for a few years now, we live together (although we maintain separate bedrooms for convenience). This arrangement suits us both, and we're generally happy with the way things work. C has another partner who she sees once or twice a week (S). I am seeing only C.

I'm happy in the relationship I have with C and am committed to polyamory, but have ongoing problems with jealousy. In previous situations it's been rooted in legitimate concerns about her relationships, but with S that's not the case. I've been trying to work out why it is I feel this way and have reached some conclusions, but am ultimately unsure what to actually do about it.

I think much of my sense of jealousy comes from my own lack of experience. Essentially, aside from C, I have only ever had one other partner and that relationship was shortlived. It feels increasingly as though my relationship with C is unbalanced. Where I've been otherwise alone, confused and uncertain, C has had a string of other relationships and encounters, developed as a person from them and become increasingly confident about her polyamorous lifestyle. I've tried to be happy that she's happy, which I know should be the response, but I merely feel left out, ever more alone and increasingly irrelevant. I suspect that I simply can't empathise with the causes of her happiness because it's not something I've ever really experienced outside of our relationship, and that just leaves me feeling smaller. Aside from all the other, ultimately irrational, insecurities I increasingly struggle to understand why she would continue in a relationship with someone who can't share in her sense of happiness.

I can't see any realistic solution to this. I know I need to find a way to empathise with her in these situations, but the only way I can see to manage that is to experience more of these situations for myself. The problem is that much though I may want to form other relationships I seem to be completely incompetent at doing so, even when the opportunity (rarely) directly presents itself.

So.. advice? Is there another way to deal with these feelings other than to just put up with them? Alternatively, is there a magical foolproof guide somewhere to meeting new partnerfolk?
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Old 07-07-2013, 09:11 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Aside from all the other, ultimately irrational, insecurities I increasingly struggle to understand why she would continue in a relationship with someone who can't share in her sense of happiness.
Is that you talking down to yourself? That you aren't "good enough" somehow?

Because say you date D, E, F... and this comes up again?

What do you need from your partner to feel safe/ secure in polyship?

What do you need from yourself to feel safe / secure in polyship?

Could you articulate it? Could reading about core beliefs and jealousy help you to articulate it? What about poly hell?

GG

Last edited by GalaGirl; 07-07-2013 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 07-07-2013, 10:26 PM
Maglor Maglor is offline
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Is that you talking down to yourself? That you aren't "good enough" somehow?
Partly, yes. It's a bit of a vicious cycle, in so far as I know the only major issue in our relationship is my jealousy, but I'm constantly convinced it's bad enough that it'll jeopardise the whole thing because it's so persistent.
In terms of the core beliefs you linked to, the problem is almost entirely with the sense of inferiority, which stems in large part from the lack of experience in other relationships. I feel inferior because I'm not part of other relationships, I'm not sexually active elsewhere, etc. I feel as though not only am I missing out, but that by being able to have other relationships and to develop my understanding of how I feel about these things and what I want from them I'll not only be more comfortable with myself but consequently better in the existing relationship. By being stuck in this experiential hole I'm simply a disappointment to both myself and my partner, who I then fear will become bored, disillusioned and ultimately leave.

It's not a case of 'poly hell'. That happened with her last partner, who was mono, wanted her to be and tried manipulating her. I think I'm still a bit twitchy about that, but this time that's not an issue.

I think what I find hardest now is actually the prospect of her seeing people casually, which is becoming more of an issue. When we started seeing each other we agreed neither of us was interested in anything casual and that it was something that wouldn't happen, but she increasingly seems to be involved in those situations. I'm really not comfortable with that (certainly not currently), and she's never said anything about altering our original agreements on boundaries, but that doesn't seem to stop things happening.
I don't want to be unnecessarily restrictive, but I'm really not happy about it.
Again, I think this comes from feeling inexperienced and inadequate.
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Old 07-07-2013, 11:41 PM
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Again, I think this comes from feeling inexperienced and inadequate.
It's entirely possible that it comes from you're uncomfortable with what she's doing; but instead of owning that, you're deflecting it off to 'feeling inexperienced and inadequate.' Just a theory, for your consideration.

It's far easier to 'blame' ourselves, than to really see that we might be up against a boundary, a wall, a need, even a distaste.

I know that if it were me, and someone had agreed to...well, anything... and then they started not keeping their agreements, and not discussing it with me, I would be very uncomfortable.
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:42 AM
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string greeting = "Hello Maglor";
cout << greeting;

Sorry. Can't see "Hello world" and not think of code.

Anyways.

A couple things come to mind. One is that you excuse your jealousy in previous situations because you saw "reasons" to justify being jealous. Whether or not those partners were poor influences etc., your jealousy is yours to own. Allowing yourself to realize that might help you analyze why you were really jealous all along, not just right now.

But regardless, I don't feel that jealousy is something to abolish. Sure, it's unpleasant and rarely helpful, but it's real and that's ok. Rather than try to get rid of it, another option is to own it, talk about it with your partner while being conscious that it's your issue to deal with.

Next, I disagree that the solution to your discomfort is to have other relationships. If you feel like there's room for improvement within your relationship, then improve within your relationship. Plenty of people have interests that they don't share with their partners and which their partners don't understand. Monster trucks. Knitting. Golf. Camping. My husband hates camping. No matter how many times I could take him camping, he would never in a million years understand what I find enjoyable about lying on the ground in a nylon box, cooking on a fire while being chewed by mosquitoes, sitting out in the rain with nothing but a plastic tarp to keep you dry-ish, and miles from anything resembling civilization. But he can accept and appreciate that I like those things.

Your partner started dating you and liked what she found. At some point, I'm sure she learned that she's your first serious relationship. She's not expecting Casanova. Having dated multiple people for the past few years, she's had plenty of opportunities to leave you for greener pastures, if she really thought those pasture were greener. Rather than waiting for the shoe to drop, why not focus on your positives?

It's not your inexperience that will do you in, it's your pessimism. I've left people before because they kept wondering why I hadn't left them and it was a downer. Note: I didn't leave them for whatever perceived personality flaws they thought I would leave them for, I left them because they had no self-esteem and that just wasn't fun to be around. Work on your self-esteem issues, and a lot of the other things will fall into place.
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Old 07-08-2013, 01:05 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I know the only major issue in our relationship is my jealousy, but I'm constantly convinced it's bad enough that it'll jeopardise the whole thing because it's so persistent.
She likes you for you and what you provide ALREADY. But go on and on and on about how "less than" you are and how you can't measure up to her and what she does like it's some kind of competition... do not do any self-respecting behavior? It erodes your self esteem.

Then if you ask her to fill your self-esteem back up with props from her? It gets tiresome being someone else's chronic "propper-upper." There's supporting a partner and then being sucked dry.

Quote:
I feel inferior because I'm not part of other relationships, I'm not sexually active elsewhere, etc. I feel as though not only am I missing out, but that by being able to have other relationships and to develop my understanding of how I feel about these things and what I want from them I'll not only be more comfortable with myself but consequently better in the existing relationship. By being stuck in this experiential hole I'm simply a disappointment to both myself and my partner, who I then fear will become bored, disillusioned and ultimately leave.
I'd like to lift this up -- could replace every single thing with something else. Like this...
I feel inferior because I'm not a master gardener. I'm not a golfer elsewhere, etc. I feel as though not only am I missing out, but that by being able bowl a perfect game I'll not only be more comfortable with myself but consequently better in the existing relationship. By being unable to fly, I'm simply a disappointment to both myself and my partner, who I then fear will become bored, disillusioned and ultimately leave.
I'm not making fun of you by picking off the wall examples. I am trying to point out it is not the actual content stuff, but the manner in HOW YOU TALK TO YOURSELF that seems to be the problem. Or at least one of the problems here. That manner of talking about yourself feeds your belief of "I'm not good enough, so she's going to leave me eventually." Your answers are WITHIN, not outside elsewhere.

Could learn to self validate and prop yourself up rather than be tearing yourself down. Learning to do self respecting behavior includes stop talking badly about yourself to yourself. Could not be your own bully. Could decide to respect yourself better than that. Maybe you want to see a counselor or a support group to help you change your thought patterns. But seriously could think about not feeding core beliefs any more that do not serve your long term well being and healths.

Because while you explain that you think the problem is your lack of dating/relationship experience -- to me looking in from the outside it seems to be about your fear she's going to leave you for "better" because you are "less than." And you believe you are less than because you cannot escape the inner voice critic ripping you down all the time. You cannot run away from you. You could figure out where this inner voice critic comes from and evict it.

Until YOU get ok with you and believe you are worthy in yourself?

You can't allow yourself to believe she likes you just as you are. You don't allow yourself to believe you are actually likeable.

That's what I think the core thing is. Getting rid of those bad kinds of "head tapes" you play to yourself in there. Go do something meaningful and constructive. Volunteer. Learn a hobby. Teach someone else something. Contribute somewhere to your community in some fashion. Do esteemable deeds and self respecting behavior. When the inner critic pipes up talking crap you can talk BACK -- "Shut up. I have value, I contribute. You talk shit. Shoo!"

To me -- self esteem is you evaluating yourself AFTER behavior is done. If you have poor self esteem could check to see if you do self-respecting behavior in the first place. Because if you do less than self-respecting behavior like bully your own self? It's hard to like a bully, dude. Maybe there's other things you do that are less than self respecting?

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When we started seeing each other we agreed neither of us was interested in anything casual and that it was something that wouldn't happen, but she increasingly seems to be involved in those situations. I'm really not comfortable with that (certainly not currently), and she's never said anything about altering our original agreements on boundaries, but that doesn't seem to stop things happening. I don't want to be unnecessarily restrictive, but I'm really not happy about it.
Let me repeat this back to make sure I understand that... please correct if I am wrong.


You are saying you had certain agreements when you first started dating. And now she's breaking agreements without first renegotiating/talking with you. You don't like that. But you don't want to call her into account and ask her why she is breaking agreements and remind her that you expect her to honor agreements or talk to you about changing boundaries. You do not expect her to just go off changing things unilaterally and expect you to "just like it or lump it."
So... how's not speaking up for yourself when you are trespassed upon self-respecting behavior? Does doing that ADD or take AWAY from your feelings of inferiority?

I don't think seeing other people and making new relationships is going to solve as much as learning to be more assertive in the relationship you already have could. Or learning to treat yourself with self respecting behavior and doing esteemable things could.

I'd encourage you to think/work on that instead.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 07-08-2013 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:19 PM
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I feel inferior because I'm not part of other relationships, I'm not sexually active elsewhere, etc. I feel as though not only am I missing out, but that by being able to have other relationships and to develop my understanding of how I feel about these things and what I want from them I'll not only be more comfortable with myself but consequently better in the existing relationship.
You are putting the maximum amount of pressure on your having success in dating. It has now been built into the thing that will make or break your relationship with your current partner. With each failed attempt at meeting new partners your self-confidence takes a hit, each time your self-confidence takes a hit you feel more insecure about your current relationship. The more insecure you are about your current relationship the more pressure you put on having success at dating.

This is not going to help you meet new people who you can build intimacy with. I suspect it will do the exact opposite by making you seem desperate.

What to do?

Stop attributing success in dating with being someone your partner wants to be with. Unless she has given you an indication that this is true (has she?) it is entirely likely that she enjoys your company for the same reasons she did originally. I am highly doubtful that her internal monologue is "I sure like him, but if he doesn't start dating bitches soon I'm going to dump his ass". Splash some cold water on your face and realize that you are feeding yourself a line of bull that is going to make you crazy.

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I think what I find hardest now is actually the prospect of her seeing people casually, which is becoming more of an issue. I don't want to be unnecessarily restrictive, but I'm really not happy about it.
Change can be scary if our goal is to keep your environment static. The problem is that, people are not static, they change and grow constantly and the only way this can be a bad thing is if we have the unreasonable expectation that everything will stay the same.

The more important question is: why is her dating casually an issue for you? Is it a concern that she is not being careful? A condom can fix that situation easily enough... but I'm doubtful that is your hesitation.

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I think this comes from feeling inexperienced and inadequate.
Jealousy generally comes from insecurity. Insecurity can come from inexperience. You've got this on the brain and need to break away from it.

Personally I think you have built this up to be something that it isn't but the only way you can know that is if you get out of your head for a minute. Get some exercise, go get drunk and in trouble with your friends, stop thinking about it and talking about it for a little bit.
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Old 07-08-2013, 07:16 PM
Maglor Maglor is offline
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You are saying you had certain agreements when you first started dating. And now she's breaking agreements without first renegotiating/talking with you. You don't like that. But you don't want to call her into account and ask her why she is breaking agreements and remind her that you expect her to honor agreements or talk to you about changing boundaries. You do not expect her to just go off changing things unilaterally and expect you to "just like it or lump it."
So... how's not speaking up for yourself when you are trespassed upon self-respecting behavior? Does doing that ADD or take AWAY from your feelings of inferiority?
It doesn't help, certainly. I've raised this point with her a few times recently. I will do again, perhaps more forcefully (although she's away currently). My main fear is of being too restrictive, which isn't a quantity I've really understood yet.
The first few times she did it I challenged it and was effectively told to get over myself, so it just kept happening. Mostly regardless of what I said or did, sometimes in spite of it; occasionally doing things she had explicitly stated she wouldn't. I don't want to sound like this is happening every week, but.. it's certainly been a few times too many.

I'm thinking of proposing an alternative, more utilitarian boundary heuristic (rather than rule), that no partner should engage in a relationship or encounter another has more negative feelings about than they do positive, with the caveat that in the event of someone saying no a mutual effort is made to try and alleviate that negativity.
It's more flexible than just saying no to anything outside a set definition, allows anything that someone is really intent on and prevents anything that would cause unhappiness in one partner for minimal gain in another. It also puts explicit emphasis on the need to work on any issues that might cause tension.

Opinions? Is this a terrible idea?


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Change can be scary if our goal is to keep your environment static. The problem is that, people are not static, they change and grow constantly and the only way this can be a bad thing is if we have the unreasonable expectation that everything will stay the same.

The more important question is: why is her dating casually an issue for you? Is it a concern that she is not being careful? A condom can fix that situation easily enough... but I'm doubtful that is your hesitation.


Jealousy generally comes from insecurity. Insecurity can come from inexperience. You've got this on the brain and need to break away from it.
This is my main problem. Whilst I'm generally all for sex-postitivity, I have a lot of issues with it myself. From having grown up in an environment where it was something to be suppressed, through years of isolation and bullying at school to a series of unpleasant experiences during university I've become quite afraid of openly expressing sexuality. I can't, pretty much, not outside of my current relationship, which is why the idea of my partner seeing other people, and particularly casually, really, really freaks me out. Rationally, it's something that, given the correct circumstances I'd be all for, for either or both of us, but I can't be, yet, because I'm still stuck with this juvenile feeling that sexuality is bad and should be suppressed.
This is what I mean, more specifically, when I say inexperience merely makes me insecure, and that (in the longer term, at least) what I need is to be able to see other people. I need to get over this fear, and the only realistic way I can see to do it basically amounts to a form of immersion therapy.

I'm not desperately looking for just anyone. I know that even to be successful in doing so would be both callous and ultimately unproductive. Nor am I attributing success in dating to being anything other than success in dating, but to be able to have that intimacy with someone else would alleviate the fears I have quite a bit, I think, and I don't see any other way to do so.

Last edited by Maglor; 07-08-2013 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 07-08-2013, 07:42 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I'm thinking of proposing an alternative, more utilitarian boundary heuristic (rather than rule), that no partner should engage in a relationship or encounter another has more negative feelings about than they do positive, with the caveat that in the event of someone saying no a mutual effort is made to try and alleviate that negativity.
It's more flexible than just saying no to anything outside a set definition, allows anything that someone is really intent on and prevents anything that would cause unhappiness in one partner for minimal gain in another. It also puts explicit emphasis on the need to work on any issues that might cause tension.
You suggesting changing the wording of agreements doesn't change the bottom line: Each of your WILLINGNESS to try again.

She already doesn't sound willing at this time to work on any issues that are causing tension here. She told you to get over yourself. That's dismissive and unkind.

Is this temporary frustration or permanent attitude?

The original agreement was "nothing casual." I don't know what that means to each of you. Does that mean "no unprotected casual /swinging sex" or "no casual at all" protected or not? For sake of discussion, I'll just go with that as example, ok? "No casual sex at ALL."

So then it sounds like this:
"We agreed to no casual sex at all. It was not specified at the time as a HARD LIMIT (never no way jose) or as a SOFT LIMIT (no for now, could change over time.)

Now she's casual sexing.

The first few times she did it I challenged it and was effectively told to get over myself, so it just kept happening. Mostly regardless of what I said or did, sometimes in spite of it; occasionally doing things she had explicitly stated she wouldn't. I don't want to sound like this is happening every week, but.. it's certainly been a few times too many.

I am afraid to be firmer on this like a HARD LIMIT because ____?"
What? That she might break up with you? Is that the fear?

She's not respecting you or the agreements by keeping them.

She's not asking to renegotiate in a respectful way either if she has found she can no longer keep them.

And you going along with that treatment of you is not you respecting you either. No wonder you feel like crap.

It is your body and your heart. You share it how you like with whom you like. You don't sound happy sharing it with her like THIS.

Could man up assess where you each are at now. Could state your OWN willingness clearly then.
  • I am willing / not willing to have you make unilateral decisions for the couple.
  • I am willing / not willing to talk about changing boundaries/limits in a sane way if they start to pinch.
  • I am willing / not willing for you to treat me this way when I bring up concerns when you break agreements -- telling me to "get over myself."
  • I am willing / not willing to be in concurrent relationship with you if you are having casual sex (or whatever the actual agreement was). The risk to my own (emotional, mental, physical and/or spiritual) health is acceptable / not acceptable to me.

Could ask her where HER willingness lies more clearly.
  • You have broken agreements. I have issues with that. Are you willing talk and sort all that out with me?
  • Are you willing/not willing to remain in concurrent relationship with me with these agreements in place? Or with new agreements?
  • Or is it that you are not willing to remain in relationship with me at all? Where do we stand here? (If no longer willing to be in relationship at all, no point in rehashing new agreements.)

Take it one layer at a time here. Everyone is allowed to draw their lines in the sand for themselves. Then you both come to find if you are still in this together or just no longer compatible.

But you remaining in concurrent relationship with her while she does not honor agreements between you and treats you poorly -- that's not healthy relationship for you no matter how you slice it or try to excuse it. You end up feeling like crap because there is no relating. It's a one sided thing.

And since you are responsible for your own well being -- you could remove yourself from the line of fire if things here are no longer compatible or healthy for you.

Some choices in life are not "win or lose." Some come as "this stinks and that stinks -- so which stinks less?"

Could choose the path of self respecting behavior. That stinks less. You can't MAKE her respect you or treat you respectfully. But YOU could decide to treat you respectfully.

Hang in there.
GG

Last edited by GalaGirl; 07-09-2013 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:28 PM
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The first few times she did it I challenged it and was effectively told to get over myself, so it just kept happening. Mostly regardless of what I said or did, sometimes in spite of it; occasionally doing things she had explicitly stated she wouldn't. I don't want to sound like this is happening every week, but.. it's certainly been a few times too many.
So you've told her what you want and she is not at all interested in giving it to you. Unless I'm missing a piece of the conversation your options are pretty limited.
1. Learn to see her dating casually as something positive (or at least something you don't care about)
2. Decide that you are, in fact, not going to be ok with her dating casually and move on with your life.
What you shouldn't do is try to manage her behavior to suit your insecurities - that is just going to cause frustration on everyones part.

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Originally Posted by Maglor View Post
I'm thinking of proposing an alternative, more utilitarian boundary heuristic (rather than rule), that no partner should engage in a relationship or encounter another has more negative feelings about than they do positive, with the caveat that in the event of someone saying no a mutual effort is made to try and alleviate that negativity.
It's more flexible than just saying no to anything outside a set definition, allows anything that someone is really intent on and prevents anything that would cause unhappiness in one partner for minimal gain in another. It also puts explicit emphasis on the need to work on any issues that might cause tension.
If I understand what you are saying here (and I'm not really sure I do), you are trying to figure out a way to have some control over what she does without calling it control.

Many people go about their relationships this way, offloading accountability for their insecurities onto their partners. Some people are comfortable with this kind of interdependent exchange of responsibility for their own feelings but I am skeptical that this is a healthy arrangement. I personally recommend taking full authority and responsibility of your own feelings and taking action accordingly.

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which is why the idea of my partner seeing other people, and particularly casually, really, really freaks me out.
What does your partners sexual practice or expression have to do with your own sex-positivity? Your personal taste when it comes to expressing your own sexuality should be completely distinct from your partners decisions in this regard. I'm sure there are a number of things IV does that I don't enjoy doing (and vice verse) but we just wouldn't do them *together*. Because I don't personally dig an activity is not an excuse to try and deter someone else from doing it.
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