Dealing with Jealousy Open Relationship
Jealousy is one of my biggest issues, and it’s on the same level as grudges. I feel terrible about it and just can’t seem to control it. I find myself jealous of more successful people in their careers; I’m jealous when I can’t afford things other people can afford; I’m jealous of what my work colleague has for lunch, and I’m even jealous of others' successes on social media. I can’t wrap my head around people that are in open or polyamorous relationships. How do they keep their jealousy under control in a situation where jealousy is most likely to be prominent?
How to Cope with Jealousy in an Open Relationship
There is a difference between being an open relationship and having a polyamorous relationship. When you are in an open relationship with your partner, you can meet up and sleep with anybody you like, and your partner can do the same. It’s only based on sex, and you don’t date the other person. A polyamorous relationship is when you and your partner would have more than just each other, you would actually have a romantic relationship with another person.
Polyamory and open relationships are not seen as traditional relationships, and although jealousy can play a part in these types of relationships, jealousy is also a problem in traditional relationships. If you’re in a traditional monogamous relationship and want to know more about your slight jealousy, or if you’re in an open or polyamorous relationship and want to curb your jealousy, it’s handy knowing how to deal with your feelings. These five methods will give you some good tips on coping with jealousy in an open relationship, which will help your relationship grow.
As the saying goes, communication is key, and this is even more significant if there are multiple people in a relationship. If jealousy rears its ugly head, then all parties in the relationship need to come together and discuss it amicably. The four steps to follow are:
- Identify where the jealousy is coming from
- Choose a suitable time to sit and chat with your significant other. It’s best to choose an environment that’s neutral and not in your bedroom. Ensure that you have enough time to discuss the issue, and make sure the setting is private enough.
- Explain your issues with jealousy to your partner, and come up with a solution together. Both people in the relationship need to consider the other's feelings.
- See how it goes once you’ve had your discussion, and take it from there.
The first step is figuring out where your jealousy comes from. Every person’s thoughts and feelings deserve to be treated with compassion, and your partner should want to resolve any issues. This allows you to go in-depth with your feelings and figure out the root cause of the jealousy. Don’t judge your partner, and pay attention to them. Listen to what they say and work together to find the cause of the jealousy.
Anxiety and jealousy are very similar feelings, and both can be caused by worries and uncertainties. Genetics, your environment, and your mood are what determine when those feelings arise. Jealousy is similar to anxiety in the sense that it is enhanced when we are in danger or when we are unsure of things. It minimizes when we feel secure and supported.
When that green-eyed monster hits you while you’re sitting at home wondering what your partner is doing while they’re out on their first date, take a step back and think about what the underlying cause of your jealousy could be. Think about the bigger picture and understand that it might be an issue within your relationship with your partner. Discussing your jealousy and your feelings with your partner will help your relationship.
How to Have an Open Relationship Without Jealousy
Try to figure out your jealousy by creating a journal that documents your jealousy. You can do this alone or with your partner, or with all of your partners if you want. Use illustrations or descriptive pieces to impersonate jealousy in a way that explains what it looks like to you. Some examples include, ‘What does jealousy look like to you?’ Is it smaller than you or bigger than you?’ ‘What makes you aware that you are feeling jealous?’ ‘Is jealousy angry or possibly scared?’ The list is endless and is a way on how to handle jealousy in an open relationship.
After you have drawn your version of jealousy or written a good description of what jealousy is to you, you can start working on making it look less intimidating. Re-examine the image or words you’ve put down in your journal, and figure out what it is about these specific things that cause you to feel jealous. If your partner is supportive and doesn’t judge you, then your feelings of unpleasantness because of jealousy can help you realize what’s missing from your relationship, and you can work on it from there.
Jealousy can be caused by something as simple as not having clear enough boundaries. It isn’t necessarily personal issues within open or polyamorous relationships that cause jealousy. Your partner might be doing something within their other relationship with their other partner/s that might annoy you or make you feel uncomfortable. The best thing to do is communicate with your partner and possibly create a new list of boundaries and rules that both of you agree on.
You and your partner need to establish what is alright and what isn’t for the two of you. These boundaries need to be discussed regularly because relationships tend to change over time. If you aren’t transparent about what makes either of you happy or what makes either of you sad or jealous, it can cause many other issues to crop up.
A good tip is to create a list for both you and your significant other that details what you are okay with and what you aren’t OK with when it comes down to being with other people. Make a list of every sexual act, and then sit together and go through it with your partner and decide which sexual acts are a definite yes, a definite no, and a maybe. This will help set clear boundaries with each other.
Creating this list can be useful for couples that aren’t sure if they want to have an open relationship or be in a polyamorous relationship. Creating a yes/no/maybe list can help you and your partner decide if an open relationship or polyamorous relationship would ever be up for consideration in the future.
There might be things that you are okay with, and those might be things your partner isn’t OK with. You might be happy for your partner to have a purely sexual relationship, but not a romantic connection with another person. They might be fine with you cuddling another person but not spending the night. Or they might be okay with you spending the night but not doing a specific sexual act. Many different situations could make or break it for you. Creating this list, and renewing it often, will allow you and your partner to figure out what could potentially cause jealousy, and then you can be on the same page about what is allowed and what isn’t within your relationship.
How to Overcome Jealousy in an Open Relationship
When discussing your boundaries with your partner, you should also discuss a potential backup plan. A problem that some people don’t consider is, what happens if you or your partner starts feeling more than just sexual feelings for another person? Or what happens if the other person wants something more serious with your partner? If you know that you’re a jealous person or your partner, then these sorts of circumstances outside of your control can ignite feelings of jealousy and anxiety.
Discuss absolutely everything with your partner, and get through your boundaries with each other. Discuss the best things and the absolute worst things that could happen from having an open relationship or polyamorous relationship, and put it all down on paper.
The common problem is that people in relationships will worry about their main relationship and won’t think about how other possible relationships are affected. Your or your partner’s other relationships with other partners also change over time, and this isn’t thought about or discussed beforehand and can cause unnecessary jealousy later in the relationship.
A study in 2017 that was published in ‘Perspectives on Psychological Science’ asked 1507 monogamous couples and 617 non-monogamous couples. They found that most people in open or polyamorous relationships aren’t as jealous as people in monogamous relationships. They still need to figure out why this difference is there. One of their thoughts is the possibility that people that are generally not as jealous as others are more open to the idea of having multiple partners or allowing their partner to see other people. The other thought is that couples exposed to non-monogamous relationships are more often less jealous as time goes by, which is a good way to have an open relationship without jealousy.
There is a word called ‘compersion,’ which means that you experience warm and fuzzy feelings when you see your partner experience the same feelings when they are with another person. This often happens in non-monogamous relationships, but not so often in monogamous relationships because you won’t get the opportunity to see your partner with somebody else.
If you don’t know how to overcome jealousy in an open relationship, give it a bit of time. If you haven’t decided to have an open relationship or a polyamorous relationship yet, and are worried about jealousy, then relax and give it a chance. This could be your opportunity to experience something new and exciting, and you will be able to support your significant other, and they can support you in your adventures.
At the end of it all, the people I chatted to about being open-minded and honest said that is the only way to make sure your relationship is okay at the end of it all. It might not feel 100% right at the time, but if you are determined to give it a proper shot and see how it works out, then it could make your relationship even stronger at the end. When you are in an open relationship or a polyamorous relationship, then ensuring that you communicate clearly and openly, accept how you feel and how your partner feels, and be open to the idea of exploring how you feel, especially when it comes to jealousy, is the way to ensure that your relationship stays peaceful. Being open with your feelings and staying in tune with your emotions with your partner can be the solution on how to overcome jealousy in an open relationship, and it can be extremely satisfying.