Polyamory and Jealousy: Using Jealousy as a Tool
Using Jealousy as a Tool
In polyamorous circles, jealousy is seen as a threat – the green-eyed monster as it is so affectionately called. People think that if they are experiencing feelings of jealousy, they are worried they aren’t doing “poly” right. Likewise, if a partner becomes jealous, this admission may open the door to a lot of frustration for multiple parties.
You wonder if you or your partners are capable of being polyamorous after all.
Mishandling jealousy is the biggest reason polyamorous relationships fail. Taking the time to understand jealousy, learning to manage it effectively, and using it to learn about yourself (or themselves) and your needs is essential for a healthy long-term relationship.
Compersion, the feeling of joy at witnessing another’s happiness, is often touted as the opposite of jealousy. A poly maxim that all “good” poly people experience. But it’s not.
Jealousy is the fear of losing one’s relationship. The opposite is feeling overwhelmed with love and security.
The problem with jealousy is not that we feel pain or discomfort, which can both be great teachers. It’s how we choose to deal with and express those emotions that causes issues.
If we allow jealousy to overwhelm us and we lose control and lash out at everyone and everything, then there is a problem. When we get scared and feel threatened, all of our worst behaviors boil to the surface. We do things we never thought possible only moments ago. Our cognitive biases kick in and tell us that any action is justified- after all, “they” hurt us.
Getting Your Shit Together
Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. Jealousy is an indicator that we feel insecure and that our needs are not being met. If we use those emotions to inform and guide us, we can do a better job at communicating our needs. Then, jealousy can become a tool for personal growth.
Think of it as your body’s emotional bullshit detector. You can think everything in your relationship is just fine all you want, but the body will call bullshit and force you to deal with it.
When we become triggered, the first step is to utilize non-reactivity and emotional control when processing the situation.
“What am I feeling?”
“Why do I feel this way?”
Naming your emotions and identifying the source will help to ground you and will help change the focus of the situation from being caught up in the experience to actively engaging in your wellbeing. Instead of flipping out, you learn to sit with your discomfort.
The next step is to ask for what you need.
“What can I ask my partner for that will help me not feel this way anymore?”
Is it a date, because you feel you haven’t had enough quality time together? Is it help around the house, because you feel like you’re taking care of everything while they are off gallivanting with their other partner?
Sometimes all you may need is to be seen. “I don’t need anything now, I just wanted you to know, when I saw you kiss them, I got angry and just needed a minute to process things.”
From Jealousy to Joy
Jealousy doesn’t have to be something scary, to avoid at all costs. It is just another human emotion that we can utilize for our own development and benefit.
When we use jealousy as a tool for getting our needs met, we open up the door for compersion. Only once we feel loved and secure in our own relationship can we start to derive joy from our partners’ other relationships.
Daemon Black is an introverted polyamorous nerd from Austin, Texas. Biochemist, designer, and business consultant by training. Daemon has been practicing polyamory for over a decade. He enjoys learning, cooking, permaculture, raising chickens, hiking, traveling, and going on adventures.