Thursday, May 24, 2012

Give an Inch, Earn a Mile

I’ve heard some polyfolk talk about jealousy as a wasted emotion and they go so far as to encourage others to suppress or ignore it. 

Yeah, rationally mastering scary emotions would appear to be a superior strategy. Still, most of us aren’t training to be a space ninja, either. The shit’s real and dismissing jealousy as “irrelevant” or “wasted” – or something that can be controlled through the discipline of honed personal will - doesn’t seem like a concrete plan to deal with it.

Within the scope of jealousy, people you care about really feel threatened; they really feel a loss of control; they really feel hurt; they really feel conflicted.  And in my mind, telling somebody that I care about to stuff all of that crap into a box for another day (or get over it) isn’t useful. It’s avoiding the issue. It’s dismissing them as a person and I think that sucks.

A person feeling jealousy should have the right to feel it, be acknowledged, and ask for a conversation about it from their partners. It’s a natural emotion. It’s messy, complicated, and very unavoidable. Get used to it.

Meanwhile, their partner might ask about what measures they could perform to alleviate the pain. Specifics are important. It’s not fair to play the jealousy card yet force a partner to guess as to what you need to ease your pain.

Then, finally, compromise. It’s unfair to compel any single partner into making all the sacrifices and ultimately there may not be a “fair”, balanced solution that meets everyone’s needs, but there can always be common ground or even incremental steps towards meeting everyone’s expectations.

Jealously is a real emotion. It can’t be easily repressed and it’s really unreasonable to expect it can be ignored. I personally don’t think jealousy ever goes away: if you care about somebody, there’ll always be some level of fear and insecurity surrounding their activities outside of you. Still, the intensity of those feelings can be addressed by jointly acknowledging, specifying, and compromising on controls: maybe an inch is given where a mile is earned; little bits of predictability offered over the course of a relationship can reduce fear and create stronger bonds of trust.



cuddlykitten said...

This is a very good post. Thanks for sharing!!

My partner and I live several states away from each other. Due to other factors in our lives, it'll likely be this way for a few years. We each have side interests, some of whom have been in our lives longer.

He tells me I'm the least jealous person he's met. We actually were talking about this yesterday. I explained that I do get jealous and insecure. I recognize it and I end up talking to him about my feelings.

I also realize that I'm very happy and fulfilled. I don't mind that he dates and has sex with other women. I encouraged it honestly. As long as he and I are strong, I can easily work through my own emotions.

I think that's a big part of poly. Knowing when a problem is something I can handle and when I need help. And being honest/upfront about those feelings, even if it's something I handled myself.

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