Usually when I tell people that my relationship is unconventional, they have one of two reactions: curiosity or concern. Nobody has really shunned me for it. Some people have surprised me and shared that I’m not the first person they’ve met who’s been involved in a poly-type relationship.
By and large, the most frequent question I get asked when I explain that my partner has multiple partners is, “But don’t you get jealous?”
The way they’re asking the question, you might think they’re talking to someone who smokes two packs a day and asking, “But won’t you get cancer?” OHMYGOD, NOT JEALOUSY! But jealousy isn’t a fatal emotion. I mean, I suppose it can be if you let it unhinge you, but I don’t let a whole lot unhinge me in that fashion.
The answer is yes, sometimes I might get a little bit jealous. Sometimes I get downright resentful. It doesn’t happen very often, but jealousy is an emotion that is not foreign to me.
When someone asks me, “But don’t you get jealous?” I think of it more like someone watching me walk out the door in a sleeveless dress in November and asking, “But won’t you get cold?”
I live in Southern California. It rarely gets THAT cold, even in November, and if it does, I grab a sweater and put it on.
When I encounter jealousy within my relationship, the “sweater” is usually a product of some self-examination. For me, jealousy is usually related to some sort of insecurity or perceived “unfairess.” But, like sunny Southern California, my relationship is pretty darned secure and fairness abounds; so it’s rare that those feelings manifest.
When I feel “jealous” I start asking myself “what’s causing this?” I examine whether it’s actually “jealousy” (I want to claim something that somebody else has) or if I can deescalate it down to “envy” (I want to have a thing somebody else has without taking it away from them). Are these feelings sourced through the comparison trap? I know that for me, comparing is a no-no in this type of relationship, so if that’s where it’s coming from, it’s time to shut it down.
Sometimes I’m able to do just that: shut down those feelings as easily as I would have put on a sweater on a 68 degree day. No harm, no foul.
But yeah, even in Southern California, we get actually cold days. We even had a snow day once when I was in elementary school – so certainly there are going to be days that the jealousy can get the best of me.
So, what do I do? What’s the equivalent of my polyamorous “wool coat, gloves, and scarf?”
Would you believe it’s communication?
What!? Another damned poly post touting communication as a freakin’ solution to every problem!
Yeah. Pretty much. ‘Cause when it gets THAT cold outside, when we’re talking jealousy jacket weather, I tell my partner, “I’m feeling resentful. I don’t like it and it’s affecting my mood.”
And he says, “Gotcha.”
We talk about what’s bothering me. He validates my feelings. He lets me know that it’s okay to feel that way sometimes and that he totally understands why they’ve come up this time.
And then, usually, I get my period a day or two later and the cold weather passes.