Today’s piece is a guest blog post from Fluffy, an academic in-training, who is studying organizational behavior in hopes of making the world a better place.
They previously contributed five articles to Poly.Land:
- Everything I’ve Ever Learned About Non-Monogamy My Puppy Taught Me All Over Again
- Is There a Right Time or Way to Break Up a Relationship?
- I Was Treated as a Disease Vector: Why There Are So Few Gay Men in Pansexual Polyamory
- Being Single Sucks, But We Don’t Want to Hear About It
- Consent Culture Is Hard, Yo.
Fluffy’s regular blog is Eclectic Discourse (where pith goes to die; in-depth looks at awkward topics).
And check out what they wrote this time around for Poly.Land:
I’m Too Anxious to Be Jealous
I’ve often said that I don’t really get jealous. Unlike some poly honor students, I say this less as a sign of purity and boast and more as a point of frustration. My lack of jealousy has actually been a major problem in past relationships. While I have experienced jealousy in other contexts, I can honestly say I haven’t experienced it in a relationship.
Something that’s always been curious to me is the conceptualization of jealousy as an anxious response. The idea that it comes from fear of losing something, or that something is being taken from you or that one of your needs isn’t being met. I’ve never felt this about a partner or metamour, even when I’ve been in monogamous relationships.
No, instead my anxiety manifests itself as a constant belief and set of intrusive thoughts that I don’t deserve my partner(s). That I’m not doing well enough by them. That I need to do better. Instead of responding by holding them closer and fearing for losing them, I tend to hope they find others that do deserve them. I cherish the moments we have because I believe that I have stolen them from others, not that others are potentially stealing them from me.
What’s the opposite of jealousy? That’s what I experience.
Always a Clunker
In a way, I suppose I am constantly jealous of the person I wish I was. Unlike others who are driving newfangled cars, mine is held together with duct tape and a prayer. Other folks get a check engine light when something goes wrong; mine was disabled before I got the car. I can only go based off vague and often indescribable senses that something is off.
Not only that, my mechanic, though well-meaning, isn’t exactly reliable.
“Oh yes, Mrs. Mechanic, he looked at me funny.” I say after wheeling the little car into her driveway.
“Are you sure he shouldn’t dump you and pursue rafting the Ganges because it’ll make him happier?” She asks.
“Ah, you’re right!” I say, and we shake on it.
Fear Versus Expectation
I suppose instead of fearing the end of a relationship I am always expecting it. This is a mixed bag of treats.
On one hand, it means I’m not afraid to end relationships before they turn bad. I am often friends with my exes. Two of them regularly tell me they love me, and I tell them the same. I delight in their happiness with my… not-exactly-metamours? What’s a good word for someone who wasn’t a metamour when you were dating a person but would be one if you were dating them now?
On the other hand, it means I am difficult to get close to. It’s easy for me to not realize the seriousness others regard our relationship with. It is easy for me to forget that I don’t necessarily have to love everything about a partner. It is easier for me to “disqualify” potential partners for minor reasons because of a ridiculous assertion that the time either of us could spend with each other would be better spent elsewhere. It’s easier for me to give someone whose name I forgot to ask for a blowjob than to figure out how to initiate new intimacy with people I like.
The one saving grace for me is compersion. It comes easily for me; I love seeing partners with their other partners and have been known to sacrifice my own time to ensure my metamours get more. There’s a dark side to this; sometimes partners think I like them less because I’m asking for less time. In reality I ask for less time precisely because I am so enamored of my partners that I want them to be fulfilled and I believe that is more likely with others.
My anxious brain is an asshole, and not just to me.
It Makes Finding Relationships Harder
In recent years I’ve been very open and honest about searching specifically for an anchor-style relationship. I want to find someone to co-parent with down the line (preferably before I turn 40 which is only about nine years and nine months away) and eventually live with. Someone to come home to.
It could be either monogamous or polyamorous (I am a bit of a romantic anarchist myself, but I can do monogamy as easily as non-monogamy). Of course, the moment I made the decision to look only for this type of relationship, possibilities began to come out of the woodwork for solo poly-like situations. I’ve mostly declined to even talk to these potential partners for a few reasons.
Chiefest among them is because I am trying to conserve space for when/if I find that anchor-style relationship. I want to be fair to others I date and not promise them space that I really want to use for a different style of relationship in the future. Love isn’t zero sum, but time often is. Especially for a Ph.D. student.
Then we have that my pool of potential partners is primarily cis queer men, and trans-feminine non-binary folk. Most of whom interested in a person with a fat, trans body are primarily only interested in hookup culture. Most of whom want nothing to do with kids (or not for many, many years).
I’m too anxious to bother them with asking for a relationship. The few I do talk to who are interested, are primarily interested in secondary or solo-poly-style relationships, only. And who am I to change their mind?
Jealousy Isn’t Universal
Not only is how others experience jealousy not universal, whether or not others experience jealousy is not universal. And it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns for those of us who can’t or don’t experience jealousy.
In truth, I’m a bit jealous of folks who can be jealous of their partners or metamours! They have access to a broader range of emotions and emotional data than I’ve ever had.