Jealousy in Polyamory
How You (and I) Can Fight the Fear
Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends. I remember being so possessive of the friends I did have that I would get upset if they hung out with anyone else. I’ve always been that jealous person. I thought it was just a normal character flaw a lot of people had, and that’s true; a lot of people do deal with jealousy and possessiveness, particularly in the polyamorous community. Recently though, I’ve come to realize that I’m not “just a jealous person,” but an insecure human being who can change.
What’s happened is that my girlfriend of almost three years has developed feelings for someone else. If you’re like me, you’re cringing at the thought. But the truth is that I’ve been halfway expecting this to happen, because my girlfriend came out to me as polyamorous over a year ago.
"Then what’s the problem?" you might be asking. If you knew she would develop feelings for someone else one day, why are you still jealous?
Here’s where we get into my insecurities. I did not take it well when my girlfriend came out to me. It developed into a pseudo-discussion (that was really an argument) that lasted overnight. Ultimately, I knew I loved her too much to give up on our relationship, so I decided that I would figure out how to deal with my jealousy so that she could be happy.
However, instead of discussing why the idea of her dating other people made me so jealous, I decided to figure things out on my own — my jealousy, my problem. Besides, she’d said she wasn’t looking to date anyone else any time soon, so there was plenty of time, right?
Ever since then, I thought that all this time we were spending basically ignoring the fact that she’s poly was giving me time to get used to the idea of her dating someone else. But, because we had brushed off important discussions to be had “when it mattered,” we never got to the root cause of my jealousy.
So, now that it does matter, when real feelings and people are involved, instead of magically being more emotionally mature and ready for this stage in our relationship, my jealousy sprung back up with a vengeance. (And I mean a day-long breakdown vengeance.)
Not all is lost. I have faith in the strength of our relationship, and I know that realizing all of this is a huge step in its own right towards an even healthier state. If you’re in this kind of situation, though, I understand how crushing the jealousy can be. It can make you act irrationally (and passive-aggressively), so I’m going to tell you my plan for really solving my jealousy puzzle. Hopefully, you can use this information to help yourselves take the first step towards a more secure self.
My partner just came out to me as poly — What do I do?
Breathe, first and foremost. No, your partner is not breaking up with you. No, they are not saying you aren’t good enough for them. They are absolutely not trying to hurt you, and most likely have put a lot of effort towards telling you in the most respectful way as to not hurt your feelings. A lot of poly people grew up thinking that something was wrong with them and are just now learning to accept themselves.
Even if you don’t understand, they don’t deserve your lashing out. Give them your time to discuss exactly what this means for you and your relationship.
I just get so jealous thinking about them with somebody else…
Jealousy is always caused by some underlying emotion. It’s going to be uncomfortable, but you need to do a little digging to try and find the root cause of your jealousy. Are you afraid your partner will leave you for somebody else? Do you feel threatened if your partner dates someone of the same or opposite sex as you? Do you feel as if you aren’t good enough for your partner? As painful as answering these kinds of questions may be, it is necessary in order to figure out why you are jealous. Fear, anger, and sadness are good starting points. Which is the main emotion you feel underneath the jealousy?
For me, I’m insecure about a lot of things. I’m a trans guy, so the fact that my girlfriend likes a cis guy makes me feel as if I could never be “man enough” for her (some ridiculous patriarchal bullshit, I know). Also because I’m a trans guy/AFAB, I feel like this guy could give her things that I physically can’t, and that makes me feel threatened as well. On top of all of that, I’ve got some abandonment issues to work through that cause a fear that she will leave me for this other guy.
Your underlying issues might not be as extensive as mine, or they might be even more complicated. Truth be told, I’m not even sure that’s the full extent of my problems, yet. Once you’ve discovered the root cause of your jealousy, though, you’ll be able to discuss them with your partner when they occur. Talk about what it is that’s making you afraid or insecure, and see what your partner could do to help you feel more secure in the relationship.
Is it okay to not want my partner to date other people while we figure this all out?
Absolutely. You want to make sure that your relationship is strong first before you put another person’s feelings into the mix. Just be mindful, though, of how you’re actually using this time. Don’t put off the necessary discussions. Otherwise you will never get over your jealousy.
Any Last Tips?
Above all: communicate. Honesty is key, particularly in polyamorous relationships with a monogamous partner. It will be tough, and uncomfortable at times, but it is possible. Don’t give up!