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Is Polyamory the Jealousy Killer?

Jealousy is as toxic an emotion as it is an insidious one. It’s all-consuming, and like any powerful emotion, it doesn’t respond well to logic. When you feel that green-eyed monster rear its ugly head, there are very few things you can do to push it back down…or so it seems.

I used to be that jealous boyfriend. Never the angry and aggressive one, who would shout or blame my partner for doing something to “provoke” my jealousy. That’s not my style. I would just withdraw, question the relationship, and act needy. I hated feeling that way. I hated constantly needing reassurance from my partner.

Then, accidentally, I found myself falling for a married man. He was in a polyamorous relationship with his wife. His wife knew about me and supported our relationship.

At the time I met him, I had recently gotten out of an exhausting relationship and wasn’t looking to date. So I was absolutely not looking to fall in love. But as the saying goes, the heart wants what the heart wants.

The truth is, I only accepted going on a date with him because I figured it couldn’t get serious. At the time he had a wife and girlfriend, that he was living with, and had a boyfriend. The man barely had enough time to breathe, let alone date someone else seriously. Since I wasn’t looking to date, I thought this situation was ideal.

Of course, we hit it off from the first date. Then some of the other people he was dating faded away, and his wife started dating someone else seriously. Before I knew it, I was in a very serious, very committed (though not monogamous) relationship with a married man.

That’s when I had to confront my jealousy head on. He was not only sleeping with other people, he was dating other people, already in loving relationships with other people, and still open to being in MORE loving relationships with other people.

Ironically, being in a polyamorous relationship ameliorated many of my jealousy issues.

I realized a few things about the nature of jealousy, which helped me contain it.

1. It’s not the physical act of sex; it’s that he broke your trust.

It turns out it wasn’t the thought of (or the actual physical act of) him having sex with someone else that made me jealous. It was that he would be breaking his word and breaking my trust. At the end of the day that was my fear. It had nothing to do with the sex itself.

2. It’s okay to be attracted to other guys when in a committed relationship.

Our attractions to other folks don’t go away when we’re in a monogamous relationship. I’ve heard straight guys say, “Yeah, when I met her, I just knew she was the one, because I stopped looking at other girls.” I’m calling shenanigans. Of course you’re still attracted to other people, you’re just not acting on those attractions, and you’re content with what (or rather, whom) you have. But to say you’ve lost all attraction to other people? It’s bullshit. Attractions to others don’t mysteriously disappear because you had a conversation that you’d like to be exclusive. So to expect that your boyfriend will never check out another guy, or get drunk and flirt with another guy, is just absurd. This stuff happens. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.

3. The worst that can happen really isn’t that bad

When I was dating my previous partner, I thought that if he cheated, it would be the end of the world. I would be heartbroken, devastated, and never be able to trust and love again. The interesting thing with polyamory, though, is that you’re kind of open to this happening. You know that your partner might find someone else he’s more compatible with, and your relationship will change. You might not necessarily break up, but you may de-escalate your relationship, and/or spend a lot less time with him. Or he may actually leave you for this other guy. In polyamory, you’re open to things changing, and you realize that it’s really not the end of the world. What’s going to happen is going to happen, so enjoy the present and the time you have with him. The worst case scenario is never as bad as it seems.

Hopefully this helps. Again, I know how poorly jealousy responds to logic. It takes a lot of discipline and introspection to get over some of the insecurities and struggles that come with jealousy. But hey, if you do get over it, you’ll finally be able to live in the present and really enjoy the time you spend with your man.

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