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Jealousy and the Poly Family
In trying to avoid actually writing another confounded article on jealousy when
the Internet Poly community is already innundated with such material, I find I
cannot avoid it after all.
Jealousy, as anyone who has had a problem with it will tell you, stems from a
fear of loss. Sexual jealousy is really only possible when one fears the loss
of one's love interest. If you've been living awhile in a poly family, you've
either gotten over it, learned to deal with it on your own, or your
relationship is about to break up.
However, sexual jealousy is hardly the only kind of jealousy any human
experiences. One notorious form of jealousy is that a fond parent might feel
when that child displays affection to another. One child might be jealous if
another child is getting more attention, an artist might feel jealous if
another seems to be having a better creative day (whistling innocently)...
All of these things are not necessarily poly specific, but someone in a poly
relationship is in a better postition to learn from this -- or doesn't stay
With this in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind when you find
yourself feeling jealous:
Jealousy is not something to be feared.
Any negative emotion is supposed to serve the same function that pain does -- a
signal that something needs attention. If you're feeling jealous, celebrate!
You have a chance to learn something. And with that attitude, you probably
won't feel jealous for long, which is kind of the point.
When you do feel jealous, ask yourself why. What do you fear? What do you
hope for? What do you want and why do you want it?
Are the other people in question aware of my feelings?
Okay, in this instance, hinting doesn't count. Have you stated your feelings
clearly and blatently. i.e. "I am feeling jealous of the time you are
spending with The Prince because I have had no time to write with him in three
If you do not feel comfortable stating this blatently, then why not?
Are you afraid of being brushed aside? Do you feel like your feelings are
unreasonable? If so, why? You do kind of have to analyize this before you can
go any further. As someone who dislikes confrontations
has a real fear of being brushed aside, I sympathize greatly with not wanting
to speak up. However, bitter experience had taught me that it is important to
think about your feelings carefully for a
time, then speak your mind.
As Someone from the PolyFamilies List has often commented, "Own your own shit."
It's important to know what's
problem, and what belongs in someone else's camp. It can be hard to be
objective about this, but you do need to try. Your feelings, by the way,
your problem. No, you cannot say that how you feel is someone else's fault.
Your thoughts and feelings are your very own. How you react is entirely up to
This does not mean I am advising being a doormat. I don't advise it at all.
But, you are free to choose reactions that best suit you.
Stating your feelings blatently does not obligate the other person to act
according to your wishes.
Yes, I would rather, when I summon the courage to speak up, have everyone be so
that they rush to act upon my wishes.
Not only is the Real World
this way, it does not need to be this way. Communication does not and has
never meant, "I've stated a preference. If you love me, you'll immediately and
eagerly act on this preference." It does mean that you do have to explain
exactly how important X issue is to you.
You could rate each desire on a scale of one to ten. One for me would be
complete indifference on the subject. Ten would be "If I don't get this in a
relationship, I cannot continue the relationship." If you have more than a few
tens, you're probably assigning too high a want level to many things and are
either getting ulcers or spend a lot of time in tears.
Be careful when using words like "need".
When your mind hears the word "need", it translates to the body, "If we don't
get this, we're going to die." You don't
to have sex, get every Thursday with a lover, a career in computers, or that
pair of Doc Marten's. You need air. You need enough food to keep you alive.
You need enough warmth to keep you from freezing to death.
something pretty badly. I really, really, really, really want happiness,
health and growth for and from my family. I don't
to have it. So why am I lecturing about this in an article on coping with
sexual jealousy? Simple. Remember when I said jealousy is fear of loss or not
having enough? Being very careful how you talk to yourself about needs is a
good way to reduce that fear.
Jealousy, I think, gets far more attention that it deserves in dealing with
poly. Yeah, it happens. Yeah, it's something that requires attention. But,
it's not something that requires the fear and trembling treatment. It happens,
you deal in the best way you know how and you move on.
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