Even when we’re just children, jealousy is a part of our everyday lives. We’re jealous of our friend who got an Xbox when we didn’t. We’re jealous that our best friend has been going around with a new best friend. We’re jealous that our crush asked out someone else.
A part of growing up is learning to navigate these feelings. We’re often told not to compare ourselves or what we have to others and that’s a really good lesson. It’s also very difficult to stop doing altogether. It takes time. It takes acknowledging when we do it so we can tell ourselves not to do it. But the truth is, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of jealousy altogether.
It’s no different being in an open relationship. Even those of us who practice polyamory know that it’s impossible not to get jealous from time to time. And that’s why it’s so important to have steps in place to combat the green monster.
Step 1: Acknowledge the feeling to yourself first.
Often, we don’t want to admit that we’re jealous. We agreed to an open relationship because it was what we wanted. We don’t have qualms with our partners being with other partners. Then why am I upset that he took her to dinner at our favorite place? Why am I mad that my partner was willing to go on a long weekend with him but not with me?
When we start asking ourselves questions like this, it’s important we don’t squash them right away. We shouldn’t just say that we shouldn’t be upset therefore we aren’t upset. We shouldn’t just play it cool. Your feelings are valid, even if you feel like jealousy doesn’t belong in an open relationship. Yes it does, because open relationships involve humans and jealousy is human nature. Acknowledgment of your feelings is the first step in addressing and combating them.
Step 2: Address the feeling with your primary partner.
And do it in a neutral, private place. Neutral means a place that puts neither of you in a position of power in the conversation. Do it in a place where you know both of you are equally comfortable. However, try to keep it out of the bedroom. Talking about situations like this when you’re a heightened emotional state, like you would be in after sex, is an all around bad idea.
As corny as it may sound, start with “I feel” statements. Some things are cliché for a reason and that’s because they work. You don’t want your partner to feel attacked. You want them to be receptive to what you’re saying. And you should want to hear their side as well. By starting with “you” statements, it can come off more as an accusation and they can close themselves off from what you’re saying.
Step 3: Listen and respond.
After you tell your partner how you’re feeling, let them respond in kind. You might think you’re the only one struggling, but they might be too. Especially when navigating a newly open relationship, it can be hard to know what the lines and limits are. This discussion can help you find those lines. Take the situation of you wondering why your partner took your metamour to “your place.” Think about and work out together why that was a sting to you. Are you afraid that your partner is getting more attached to his new partner and losing attachment to you? Or maybe you’re feeling left out of the equation as your partner is being more active with his new partner and you’re alone more often.
There’s often a deeper reasoning to those first initial questions and talking it out, openly and honestly, can help you get down to the root. Once you get down to the root, you can put actions in place to help you both feel like you’re in a better place.
Step 4: Be honest with your metamour about these feelings.
Once you talk to your partner, the two of you should address these feelings with your partner’s partner. It’s not fair to keep them out of the loop and they should know if there’s something that they can be doing, or not doing, that would be better for your relationship. Again, make sure you’re in a neutral, private place. If you and your partner live together, for instance, don’t invite your metamour over. He or she doesn’t have the same feeling of comfort or power in your home as you do.
Be honest with how you’ve been feeling and do as you did with your partner. Say how you feel and then listen and respond. Maybe they’ve even been feeling similarly. Having this conversation can help the three of you develop a better idea of how the relationship should go, to be sure that everyone is getting the time, love, and attention that they need.
Even if you don’t engage romantically with your partner’s partner, you still are in a relationship with them. They will become an important part of your life so it’s important to foster this relationship with honesty and openness.