I like jealousy. Admittedly the feeling is a dastardly painful emotional experience. However not feeling it makes me afraid that I dont really care. That I am apathetic. Yet feeling it, or admitting that I feel this complex emotion,makes me feel embarrassed, weak . Jealousy is desperate, clingy and unattractive . No way do I want to present myself in such a childish manner. I never want to be in the compare and despair space.
Not feeling it from a partner makes me wonder about his commitment and care. Is that pathetic or what? Instead of me rationally seeing this as a healthy secure adult man with no need to throw a hissy fit when I calmly announce my ex partner is in town and Im spending the day with him , Im left licking my attachment wounds and wondering if he really loves me . Society fuels the notion that jealousy is a requirement of monogamous love. So when it is not on display , doubt sets in .
Like many of you, I rebel against the anarchy of monogamy and long to find a way to manage instinctive jealousy that allows me to feel safe, secure and healthy. Jealousy ranges from feelings of fear of abandonment to rage , to humiliation . It may be a perceived or a real threat. You may choose to ignore these feelings, manage them by infidelity, or avoidance of ever getting too close to someone. Too many men in our country manage this feeling by literally killing their intimate partner.
I am blasted with more ambivalence. We feel jealousy for a reason . It is a biological imperative, an evolutionary form of mate guarding. Acts of jealousy get you to guard your mate from getting too close to potential rivals . So when it is not visible it is a signal, a wake-up call, that a valued relationship is in danger and steps need to be taken to regain the affection of one’s mate .
Lets consider what is healthy and unhealthy jealously: I ask you >
Are you obsessionally or rationally and healthily jealous?
- Are you consumed by thoughts and/or “mental movies” of your partner’s past relationships, day and night.
- Do you stalk your partner’s ex on social media platforms
- Do you do incessant questioning about your partner’s past sexual and relational history?
- Do you forbid your partner from having any contact, of any kind, with anyone from their past, and asking your partner to remove everyone they once dated from their Facebook friends.
- Are you plagued with thoughts of : what if my partner prefers their ex to me? What if their ex is better looking than me? What if my partner is still in love with their ex? What if the sex was better…?”
- Do you get physically ill when you think about your partner’s past?
- Do you feel high levels of anxiety when your partner is away from you or cannot be reached within a certain time period?
- Do you test your partner to see if he/she is jealous?
Let’s consider how to manage our universal experience of jealousy. Unhealthy jealousy arises out of unclear expectations, unbalanced commitment levels, earlier experiences of abandonment and earlier experiences of betrayal. Jealousy in small or moderate degrees can be a sign of connection, commitment and even love. But beware of the fellow you just met on Tinder who asks you to go off and be true to him – after 48 hours of intense sexting. Are you confused yet? Should you or should you not be jealous? Walk with me another mile.
As a committed relationship anarchist, I turn to the jealousy experts for guidance, namely the polyamory community. Polyamory, consensual non monogamy, throws one deep into the pit of jealousy management . Three people (and more) consensually agree to openly share themselves . The primary learning I get is that monogamy’s strongest message , as mentioned above, is that fidelity is built in. And because of that you can avoid a lot of these difficult conversations instead of dealing with jealousy openly and honestly without feeling foolish , childish or nerdy.
People in nonmonogamous relationships don’t try to ignore the emotion or avoid it. They believe jealousy should be acknowledged, and that anyone can learn strategies to cope with it. The structure of their relationship demands as much.
A qualitative phenomenological study examined jealousy and envy in non-monogamy. The results offer a great guide as to how to better manage jealousy in a healthy adult manner. I invite you to accept and embrace this complex emotion that we need for survival and that most definitely needs to be kept under control, lest we add to the horrific statistic of intimate partner violence and overall human suffering.
GUIDE TO MANAGE JEALOUSY :
- Agreements reduce jealousy: agree on definitions of monogamy , commitment, infidelity and cyber infidelity
- Boundary violations increase jealous : set boundaries between the two of you and don’t violate them . For example, sharing all communications that you have with an ex.
- Communication mitigates against jealousy : be a nerd, be childish and admit to feelings of insecurity, abandonment, and asking for what you need to contain your feelings of fear .
- Time allocation fuels jealousy: spending quality time together contains jealousy. Make agreements around time spend that suits you both
- Willingness to end problem relationships helps manage jealousy. If you refuse to end a relationship that proves problematic for your partner, jealousy will thrive.
- Self comparison to ex’s magnifies jealousies.
- Do this online questionnaire and assess your level of attachment in a relationship: how secure are you in intimate relationships? If you fall into insecure domain , see a therapist to work on your own intimacy. It will go a far way to assisting you to manage jealousy in your relationships. Experiences in Close Relationships Scale
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