Handling jealousy is easier than you think
Or what chronic monogamous can take away from an open relationship self-proclaimed expert
I’m 25 and never been in a monogamous relationship. Well that’s a lie, the first relationship I had was, technically, close, but we still dragged other people in the imagination realm of our sex life. We would talk about who we found hot and would like to invite join us, technically we only had sex with each other, but I’m not sure if everyone would categorize it as monogamous.
That being said, if there’s one thing in my life I’ve become a master of, that would have to be handling jealousy in romantic relationships. Because, to date, I still feel all uncomfortable and insecure every once in a while and, like anybody else, I too need tools to make it go away.
I’m not saying open relationships are better, in fact, they are dreadful, but even if you are really into monogamy, my long experience with a committed relationship with open-relationships might give you some useful insights.
Redefining the concept of jealousy
The first thing I want you to think through is the possibility of not feeling jealousy, to understand such feeling as something that can be overcome, and perhaps should be overcome. This is easier than it seems:
Do you have siblings? If not, imagine you do. When you are a kid and your mum is pregnant it sucks. A lot. I don’t have smaller siblings, but at three years olds my cousin was born and I remember being pissed. I was scared everyone would forget about me.
When a kid welcomes a younger sibling to the world, we expect them to be jealous, to get mad, frustrated, and make a mess. We understand how much it hurts for them and how scary it has to be to now be presented with a world where they have to share their mum with a bald alien they didn’t even asked for.
However, we expect the kids to get over this emotion. We expect them to understand that mum has a lot of love to give, that is not finite, and that a new sibling won’t take away love from them.
But when it comes to relationships, we don’t expect partners to get over the jealousy, we understand it, legitimize it, and often consider it the only reasonable option in a sketchy situation. Sometimes jealousy is the reason a relationship breaks. Because it’s still inconceivable to us that it can be overcome.
Why do we feel jealous?
It’s easy (and often reasonable) to blame feeling jealous of the person your partner is interested in. But, even if the person changes, you still blame whoever fits the spot. Perhaps this means it’s not so much the person’s fault as your understanding of the situation.
It might be something different for you, but I get jealous when I feel that my position of priority is changing in my partner’s life. When I believe something is taken away from me, the right to be someone’s priority. When I fear that my partner might put someone else’s needs before mine.
Often that’s not the case. The fear, while legit and understandable, tends to not be a real possibility. If someone cares about you, the fact they get a new friend or a new life situation that’s taking attention from you doesn’t mean they will be oblivious to your needs when you have them. And if they do, either you are too demanding or they suck and you should let them go, but then it’s not about jealousy, it’s about who and how you build relationships.
Once you share with your partner the fear of losing their attention instead of attacking them because they aren’t spending as much time with you as you feel they should, things tend to start to get better. When they know you are in a vulnerable state they are more willing to take care of you and make sure you feel the most loved possible.
Take into consideration we are only talking about emotionally mature people. This won’t work if you or your partner aren’t willing to learn and grow to figure out how relationships work.
Most of the time understanding why you feel it is enough. But even if you don’t get where it’s coming from, acknowledging it is a big big step.
Once you no longer deny it, once you are able to say out loud “I’m jealous”, it loses most of its power. It’s no longer something you are keeping from others and you are, perhaps, ashamed to feel. Now it’s something you have felt, like many other emotions that we feel and let go.
You are going to hate me for this, but embracing jealousy and embracing the process of facing it and understanding it is perhaps not as fancy as a trip to Thailand, but it does a hell of a lot more of your self-growth than a flight to an idyllic destination ever would.
And like everything, it gets easier the more you have to deal with it. You feel less threaten because you recognize your value and you are less likely to be involved with shitty people that can’t assure you they care about how you are and what you feel.