I‘ve never had much success with open relationships. Up until now, polyamory has been like communism- it works really well on paper, but in practice it’s been a spectacular failure.
I guess I should back up and say that I have had success in the somewhat more traditional form of â€˜open relationship’ that involves casually dating two or more people at the time. The key word in that sentence is casually, as to me it implies that deep feelings are not involved, it’s just sex with a side of companionship. But whenever I’ve strived for that hippie, free love aesthetic with someone who I care very much about, nasty vibrations like jealously and resentment always gets in the way.
This Valentine’s Day, while the heart-shaped cookies were baking in the oven, my part-time lover announced he had become intimate with someone else, and that now we had to make some decisions about sexual health.
I had always known that we were not in a committed, monogamous relationship, and that this was an underlying possibility, but this was the first time I was confronted with it head on.
I myself had not gone seeking love or sex outside of our relationship for two reasons. First off, a suitable opportunity had not presented itself, as this particular lover has set the bar very high. That leads into the second reason- I was quite satisfied, at least sexually, so there was almost no reason for me to consider opening up my legs for another.
Instantly, the jealously fires raged within me. But I stopped myself from going down the same destructive path as before. Last time this happened, I wanted all the details. I asked far too many questions that only served to deliberately hurt- how many times, where did it happen, and five of the worst words one can utter to their polyamorous partner- was she better than me?
So, not only did I stick the knife in, I wiggled it around just to make sure the wound was deep enough. Ah, the emotional masochist in me used to revel in moments like these.
But this time, while my partner held me tightly, I vocalized exactly why this information made me feel so rotten. I opened my mouth and it all came out- past experiences that left me wounded and ashamed, abandonment issues, and other deep-seeded insecurities. We’re talking raw communication, at its finest. And now that all our cards are down on the table, we can see exactly what kind of hand we’re playing with.
In the words of Franklin Veaux, we’re fixing the refrigerator, or at the very least, we have our toolboxes out. Veaux equates jealousy to being a big broken refrigerator in the corner, where you can either keep bringing home frozen food to let into a globby mess, or you can try to fix it.
Go get out your tools, which by that I mean your words, and start communicating, openly and honestly. Saying what you what is the best way to get what you want!!
To read Veaux’s article, take on refrigerators.
An open relationship is a tricky beast indeed. You have to develop that elusive emotion called compersion to replace your jealousy with, and it can be a hell of a challenge to do.
“Compersion is a state of empathetic happiness and joy experienced when an individual’s current or former romantic partner experiences happiness and joy through an outside source, including, but not limited to, another romantic interest. This can be experienced as any form of erotic or emotional empathy, depending on the person experiencing the emotion.” -Wikipedia.
You’re right about communication – it’s so key. In relationships where I’ve had good communication – I’ve never found jealousy to be an issue at all. It’s hard to get into the habit though – and let yourself be vulnerable while communicating.
Ah yes, I was just introduced to the concept of compersion recently. I’m glad there’s a word for it 🙂
Expect more to come on this topic as it unfolds in my life and I become more educated… I’ve been reading lots about jealousy and open relationships, and honestly, it makes me feel so much better knowing others experience the same emotions. And also, talking about your feelings really legitimizes them, and makes them that much less scary at the same time.