It’s something of a myth that jealousy magically disappears in polyamory. But it’s something many couples, throuples, and single lovers struggle with, just as in traditional relationships or dating scenes.
What’s the difference, then, if jealousy is normal no matter what?
Perhaps polyamorous people want to overcome it or see it as an obstacle to love and sex, not an acceptable pattern or trait.
Some old friends of mine have an open marriage. He was used to his wife’s other paramour of five years. But when she started seeing a younger soccer player, he started to have jealous rages inside.
Another friend, one of my besties, has just recently decided to try polyamory. She fell for a man who is polyamorous and wants to give it a go, but she’s not used to her lovers sleeping with other women.
These friends say their main resolution this year is to overcome their jealousy.
Maybe you too wonder how to live with, or conquer, the green-eyed monster. Here are a few pointers to help you find your way.
How to Deal with Jealousy in Your Poly Relationships
Accept that jealousy is natural and normal.
Some polyamorous folks have a Pollyanna attitude that jealousy doesn’t really exist, or that it’s only for weak people, or that it is a social construct, or that strong relationships don’t experience it, or that polyamory wipes it away magically. Nonsense—jealousy is a natural and normal human emotion.
Now, “natural and normal” doesn’t mean acceptable or healthy. Lots of things are natural—wanting to drink more, drive faster, smack rude people, take what someone else has. But we don’t do it because it’s wrong.
It’s hard to tackle jealousy and work through it if you deny that it’s there or pretend it’s something else.
Recognize that jealousy is irrational and unpredictable.
Jealousy might seem like a perfectly reasonable response when something threatens what you have. And it often is. If your partner is suddenly alive with someone else in ways that you haven’t seen in years, you feel excluded.
What doesn’t make sense though is why you didn’t feel that way with the last four partners. You may be turned on or happy for her in some cases, but suddenly it’s different.
Jealousy also arises when there is nothing there. You might be A-OK with your arrangement and kiss your partner goodbye when she heads off to Vermont with her new boy toy. But on another occasion, you’re snooping through the house and in her phone, suspicious that she’s doing something behind your back, even when she isn’t.
Jealousy is unpredictable. Understanding that helps us because we see that we can’t rely on that emotion to tell us the truth about our relationship. We have to control our emotions, not let jealousy dictate how we perceive things.
Face it head on.
Jealousy tends to dissipate when it is seen. It lurks around us in a cloud, but when we recognize it and face it, it has a way of going poof! Sometimes you’re in a messy state and your lover says, “Stop blaming me. You’re just jealous.” And as soon as you see it, you know it’s true, and then you’re in control of it again.
Talk it out.
Don’t let jealousy keep you apart from your lovers. Talk it out and communicate clearly so that it doesn’t have power over you. It’s okay to confess you’re struggling with jealousy or battling unexpected insecurity. That is a chance for a lover to offer you assurance, intimacy, or recognize if she has been neglecting you, or you can both laugh it off together.
Do you struggle with jealousy? Share your tips in the comments!