No matter how evolved you might be, in a polyamorous relationship the biggest impediment to the peace is jealousy. Just as you needed to learn to share your toys all those years ago, sharing your partners with others can be a challenge. Even those who are well-versed in the morays of the poly lifestyle and who have a lot of experience have to deal with the green-eyed monster from time to time either as the aggrieved party or the subject of another’s insecurity.
Whether you’re involved in a primary-secondary relationship or a more egalitarian all-play, there are going to be situations that cause jealousy, even if everybody is playing by the agreed rules. Being open and honest while communicating and negotiating rules, as well as flexibility that takes feelings into account are necessary in order to keep these relationships healthy.
While finding a third to add to an existing relationship is easy enough, creating a lasting triad takes a greater amount of communication and negotiation to make sure that all parties are having their emotional needs met, and that the completely human and understandable jealousy that comes with sharing a partners is dealt with in a fair and constructive manner. Jealousy is a primal drive like fear or hunger, and no one is completely immune to it.
Usually, jealousy is a symptom of an underlying problem, and is not the problem itself. If someone is feeling insecure or threatened, address the real issue, and the jealousy goes away. The key to defeating jealousy is to address the underlying cause, if possible, before it manifests into something larger. Make your partners feel special, needed and loved, and your partners will not feel threatened or afraid. One thing often overlooked in the poly community is that jealousy is often a valid and rational response to a situation. If there is a problem in your relationship, or if your partner is using a new relationship as a way to avoid dealing with those issues, then jealousy is a perfectly reasonable response. Separating the jealousy that’s a warning of a real problem from the jealousy that isn’t, is not always an easy task, and that’s why open and clear communication is so important when managing your poly relationships.
Jealousy is almost never about the event that triggered it. You see your partner engaging in something that freaks you out, and as a result you pass a rule about that activity, be it kissing or going to a particular restaurant that you consider sacrosanct, but you fail to address the real reason the activity caused upset. It’s important to pinpoint the underlying feelings that triggered the episode or it will fester and re-emerge as something more difficult to deal with further down the line. There’s no such thing as an invalid emotion, even if the person feeling it acknowledges that it is irrational and unjustified, it’s still real and something distressing that they are feeling. Dealing with it in a mature and respectful manner will go a long way towards making your relationship last.