I’m Suddenly Bothered By New Things After Quality Time with My Partner Got Cut Back. Any Thoughts?

a picture of a hot tub on a rooftop with a sun setting in the background
Image by Nick Webb / CC BY

Hi Page, 

I am currently in a 2-year relationship with a polyamorous, married man. His family (my metamour and their daughter) know me pretty well at this point. For a very long time in the beginning, jealousy wasn’t much of an issue at all, in fact I found some natural (and surprising) good feelings that I didn’t expect about feeling very positively about their success as a family and as a couple.

Since then, there has been no trend or pattern emerging, but for the first time (possibly in my life) I’ve had a few bouts of hard hitting, stomach-turning, jealousy. It’s my personality not to leave feelings (or systems of them as you’ve written) as the end game here but to examine further and look for truth and deeper meaning. What I’ve discovered about myself are hard things, namely a great deal of personal insecurity that has waxed and waned within just these two years, and varying degrees of security in the relationship. Lately, while the former has been maintained itself at a somewhat low level, the latter has been built up significantly. This seemed like a great direction for us.

This last round of punched-in-the-gut, not-helping-with-my-panic-attacks jealousy has been especially tricky for us, and even though I simultaneously feel I had handled it the most expertly so far, the let’s just admit it, crummy as hell feeling in my stomach doesn’t want to quit. I’ve read your articles on jealousy and 5 steps to security about a billion times. I love the information and employ it where and when I can. But this one is bothering me.

Recently, my meta’s schedule and business ventures have left my partner with little (read: no) time to spend one on one time with me, whereas I am used to having once-weekly alone time with smatterings of extra time spent with his family as well. We talked about the schedule as temporary, but a lot of things have been put off for it. Including our anniversary celebration.

Week one I did great, week two was manageable. By weeks three and four of this schedule my nerves were beginning to fray. That’s when the “stupid thing” came. I will wholeheartedly admit that the next part will sound childish and dramatic, but I can’t seem to help the feeling even if rationally I see it. My partner and meta seemingly spur of the moment bought a hot tub. They were buying something nice for their home, something I have no objections to. But for whatever reason, with the news, I wanted to throw up. I felt like I could never go to their house again, for fear of the panic that would ensue for me.

Through TONS of talking and introspection, I have at least been able to sift out a few things. I felt scared and hurt to seemingly have some parts of my relationship on pause (especially with Quality Time as a Love Language), while their relationship and home was being built up and added to and spent on. That was scary, and admittedly so from my perspective of getting my needs met. Getting my partner’s perspective here helped a lot. I’m not terribly all about “things” and don’t often experience intense jealousy over stuff, but there is a lot of fear for me associated with missing out, being left out, being rejected (either by a person or “tribe”), and the like.

Even through the talking and examination and intelligent rational discussions that have helped, I am stuck with some jealousy (fear, worry, anger, at the very least), and the sense that I’ll be sick to my stomach in their home now on. I’m going there this weekend, because despite all that, my partner needs me and sticking to my promises is more important than indulging my jealousy.

I just, you know, still really hate it. It doesn’t make me feel good. I genuinely need help managing this one. I’m all out of ideas for why I can’t seem shake this one all the way, even bringing to light some reasons I felt it so tremendously in the first place. Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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You know what? My first honest thought here was that you’re kind of a badass. Your letter impressed me.

Okay, so this kind of thing is gut-wrenching (sometimes literally) to experience. But wow. You talked it out. You’ve figured out the root causes. And in spite of the fact that you’re worried that being in their house will be difficult for you from now on, you’re going to do it anyway.

Just wow. What a badass. My first thought is that you should pat yourself on the back. Because you’re doing a lot of good things here. Your eyes are wide open. You know it’s going to be tough, and you’re fighting. I mean, you’re going over to the house even though you’re dreading it. You’re pushing through the discomfort rather than shrinking away from it.

From what you’ve told me, I’m very optimistic that this is something that you’re going to be able to work through successfully. It unfortunately may take some time to adjust and for your brain weasels to get with the program. But the way you talk about your problems leads me to think you have what it takes to get through this and be better for it. There’s a brutal self-honesty here and a willingness to own your feelings and insecurities. And you’re not running away from the hard parts.

Now, you do mention that part of the issue here is a sense that your metamour is being invested in during a time where you have parts of your relationship on pause, something that could very well feel profoundly unfair and yes, threatening. Having less Quality Time is a big change from the norm, one in which you’re getting less of something you value.

I’m glad to hear that this scheduling situation is likely temporary, but you’re right; it can be trying even in the short term, especially if it affects things that are important to you, like celebrating your anniversary (seriously, that had to be rough, my heart goes out to you). I think your being a bit more sensitive as a result is entirely understandable.

So in the meantime, I’m wondering if there aren’t some things that your partner could do to offset the temporary changes? If that Quality Time isn’t available now, would it be possible to plan some exciting things in the future to look forward to? Perhaps a trip, a concert, or other event sometime down the road. Something special that could be planned and scheduled for a certain time, as a commitment to giving you that Quality Time you aren’t getting now. I think it will be important while you’re dealing with this temporary inconvenience for you and your partner to find ways that he can invest in you in the short term (or at least promise to invest) even with the difficult schedule.

Also, for what it’s worth, I hope that going over to their house turns out to be less of an awful experience than you’re dreading that it will be. And I hope that you get a chance to use that hot tub, too, and that you have a total blast doing so.

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Books by Page Turner:

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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