Last month on my Instagram, I explored the subject of polyamory with the community. We talked about what it is, what it's not, and some of the key ways to practice non-monogamy with integrity. One of the main concerns I found that most people have is how they would handle jealousy when sharing a lover with other people. It's a common fear and one that comes up pretty often for any emotionally aware human being.
When the Dreaded Terror Attacks
I was recently challenged in this area with one of my lovers. Since then, I've done a bit of work and research to overcome my jealousy and I hope that sharing this process will help someone else. I have a lover who I really admire, who I want to spend more time with, but my desire for his affection is over-shadowed by his desire for someone else. It doesn't mean we're not connected at all, he just has a deeper connection to someone other than me.
When I'm faced with that reality, it brings up all kinds of confusing feelings: jealousy, inadequacy, the sting of rejection from not being "chosen". These are all icky feelings., I'd rather be free, happy, and unattached, but I am human. I honor the relationship they have between them. My lovers do what they feel is best for them and I respect their decisions. Even though I'd like to spend more time with one person, I must accept when he chooses to spend time with someone else because it makes him happy.
What About My Needs?
We cannot expect to be everything to anyone. One person cannot possibly fill all the roles in another person's life. When he chooses to spend time with someone else, I know he is getting what he needs and it gives me an opportunity to give myself what I need. It gives me an opportunity to practice self-love so that I can radiate on a higher frequency.
First, I give awareness to the thoughts that come when I'm feeling jealous: "You're not enough" "There's something wrong with you" "You did something to upset him" "He's not really into you." Then I recognize them as untrue. Once I point out all the barking lies in my head, I release them. When they arise again, they're not very convincing. Then I'll go down the list of all the ways I can give myself the love, validation, and intimacy I seek from others.
I'll take a nice, hot bath, or do some yoga, curl up with a good book, write in my journal, dance to a fun song, do my makeup or even masturbate. The point is to release the energy those deceitful thoughts have created into something nurturing toward myself. Of course, it's easier said than done. The trick is to do it.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Having an attitude of gratitude is always key when faced with jealousy. I think about the fact that I'm grateful just to have love in abundance. I'm grateful to have multiple relationships to water in the first place. I'm grateful that my lovers tend to their needs and find comfort in each other. At a time when my lover chooses not to be with me, I know he is getting the love he needs, even when it's not coming directly from me.
When he receives love, really receives it, from someone else it shines through him and out onto the world. That fact is a great comfort to me. In non-monogamy, we understand that our desire for someone does not mean we have ownership of them. I am still healing from being raised in a world that practices possessiveness once feelings are established. Loving someone does not give you permission to attach yourself to them. Loving someone is not grounds for establishing territory.
Becoming a Better Sailor
That too is easier said than done, which is where the challenging waves of jealousy come in. However grand and terrifying they may be, they can be ridden and overcome. It's going to take a lot more practice for me to get better at this kind of sailing. I've only just entered into the world of ethical non-monogamy six months ago. Even authors of books on polyamory talk about jealousy being a lifetime subject to explore.
In the book The Ethical Slut: a Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Adventures (a book I recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about poly life) the authors describe jealousy as the mask worn by the most difficult inner conflict you have going on right now. It is an illusion, an expression of insecurity and fears. Our job is to recognize those fears and work through them with compassion. The book also compares the task of unlearning jealousy to learning how to skate. It is messy and uncomfortable at first but eventually, you get the hang of it.
I know that when we do explore shadow emotions, we grow into new beams of light every time. I understand that desires are nothing short of delusions. Yes, I desire more affection from one person, but what is hiding behind the veil of that desire? What is really true? Asking that question helps the clouds to part and keep me in alignment. Jealousy is just a gust of wind. It will only knock you off course if you let it.
cover art by Anna PS