PQ 16.11 — How do I handle my own feelings of jealousy?
I’ve written quite a bit about the ways I’ve found to productively deal with jealousy. Recently, I put out this article, which is a good overview/summary of the best approach I’ve discovered.
Since I have the how-to covered (for now at least, I’m sure I’ll end up writing more on the subject later), I’d like to approach today’s essay from a different angle:
I’d like to explore how well I handle my own feelings of jealousy.
The answer: Much better than I used to but never as well as I’d like to.
It’s funny. I’ve been very open about the fact that even though it’s been over a decade that I’ve been polyamorous, I do occasionally experience jealousy or insecurity in my dating life. The most recent example was in this essay: I’m Strongly Biased Against That Happening. One reader who wrote to me after that article said the following:
It’s really reassuring to know that someone who has been polyamorous for so long still occasionally feels jealousy. Makes me feel like I’m not defective for getting that way. But on the other hand, it’s really scary. Because does it ever end?
And the truth is: End? No, it never ends.
To be fair, jealousy is just like any other negative emotional response. Sometimes you get angry, sad, hungry, hurt. And occasionally you’re going to experience jealousy in your life, whether you’re polyamorous or not. Like any other negative emotional reaction, it’s less about not having the emotion and more about dealing with it well when it occasionally happens.
So no, it never ends.
But does it get better? Yes. Most definitely.
It’s hardest in the beginning. Things get quite a bit easier after about a year of working through your emotions and developing the proper relationship skills, and then another year in, it tends to get even easier. Those are the trends Justin and I have noticed at least, in working with people newly adjusting to polyamory who share their stories and their overall timeline.
And the biggest reason that I never handle jealousy as well as I’d like to is because I have a hard time getting away from perfectionist thinking and will often find myself “moving the goalposts,” without even realizing it. I think it’s a danger a lot of us face. It’s easy to lose track of how far you’ve come and got lost in your perceived “shortcomings.”
For a comprehensive overview of the process I use to handle my own feelings of jealousy, please see this post: How to Be Jealous in a Productive Way (9 Steps)
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.