I have a confession. I feel jealousy.
Some of my monogamous friends might balk at the thought of me dealing with jealousy because you probably think that us poly folk (or non-monogamous people) don’t get jealous. But we do. I just didn’t. I thought I was one of the lucky ones that just don’t deal with jealousy. Not the case. I do. I have. I am.
Just as a quick primer, it’s important to understand that jealousy is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. For me, jealousy comes up because of insecurity. That is why I never felt it in my marriage. I was married for 18 years to a man that was committed to our marriage. We had a long history to work from. I never felt the need to be jealous. (Vice versa, he had all sorts of reasons to feel jealous. I completely understand why he did.)
As a single woman, I am navigating new relationships that don’t have history. On top of being new, they are also open.
I found myself blurting out to a man I’m seeing, “Honestly, I’m afraid of being replaced.” It wasn’t my finest moment but he says he thought it was cute. I don’t think it was cute. I think it was weak and maybe even a bit manipulative on my part. I did some digging and for me it comes down to a lack of history with this man. I’ve had other lovers and have continued to choose him. He hasn’t had other lovers, that I know of, so I don’t have the history that says he will likely continue to choose me. (After many edits, this came to me…) Though I guess you could say that every time I see him it is because he continues to choose me, other lovers not being relevant. (And maybe that right there is my ah-ha moment. Journaling is so important for that very reason.)
It reminds me of a story… In 2008, when the economy crashed, we (my family including my ex husband) lost everything. Our business was in the auto industry. We struggled to rebuild, even had to move into my in-law’s basement for over a year. When it came time to get back to living on our own, we were scared. We knew we had to take the leap but it was really frightening. Our business was doing ok, but since we had failed before, it was hard to feel confident that it would once again pay the bills consistently. We moved into our home and every month I could pay the rent, I felt a sense of pride and relief. If nothing else great happened that month, the business at least paid our bills. We were surviving, but not with any confidence. But each month we were able to meet our responsibilities, we gained a little more confidence that we could do it again next month. Then we started to feel confident we could actually sustain it for the long term.
That’s where I am with my jealousy. I need to see the history. So while the history builds in each relationship, I have to practice patience.
I shared my thoughts with the new lover, that I just needed him to “do it” so I knew he would come back. I guess it might seem like an unconventional way to build the history. But I imagine even in long term relationships that choose to open up, they deal with the same issues. The first time your partner is with someone else, you just need to see them come back to you and then each time it gets easier. And since writing this (with many re-reads and edits), I see, like I said above, that he does continue to choose me every time we are together. I really don’t have to ask for anything else. That’s how we should deal with jealousy. We should talk it out, with ourselves and even with our partners. Communication, I will say a million times, is the answer to almost everything!