When Your Partner Is the One Doing the Jealousy Baiting

a fishing lure
Image by Rian Castillo / CC BY

I recently posted an article about jealousy baiting. In it, I talk about two situations in which someone who had been intimate with a partner of mine used that fact to be cruel to me.

I didn’t go into specifics in that article because I didn’t want the individuals to recognize themselves (on the off chance they were reading it). Because I didn’t want them to know they’d gotten under my skin. Since that was what they seemed to be going for, after all.

It was physically painful for me to write that post. At first, I wasn’t sure that I should have put it out there, but the response to it was overwhelming. I heard from many readers who felt extremely validated and happy to finally have a term (jealousy baiting) to describe their own painful experiences with it.

I also heard from a lot of readers who were asking the same two questions over and over:

  1. If your partner is the one trying to make you jealous, is that also jealousy baiting?
  2. What’s the difference between being open and honest and jealousy baiting?

So in today’s article I’d like to answer these.

When Your Partner Is the One Doing the Jealousy Baiting

The first answer is fairly straightforward.

Yes, if your partner is talking about their intimate encounters with others in a way that’s intended to make you feel jealous, less than, and/or inferior to other people, it’s jealousy baiting.

I mentioned in the previous article that jealousy baiting is something that very rarely happens to me (until it happened to me twice in the past year) in my polyamorous dating life. You’ll note that I didn’t say that it had never happened to me before.

That’s because it had happened exactly one time prior. And that was with my ex-boyfriend Rob. Rob unfortunately seemed to have a jealousy fetish. He liked to think that women were fighting over him, anime waifu style. It made him feel attractive and worthwhile. And it frankly seemed to make his dick hard.

Never mind that it often caused metamour problems between whatever women he was dating as a polyamorous man. Or made women he cared about cry and feel worthless.

And he didn’t just do it to me. In talking with others he’d dated and who had known him for a while and seen how he behaved in relationships, this was Rob’s M.O.

It was frankly his kink, jealousy baiting.

I suppose that could have been okay had I consented to it? (Or I’d been into jealousy-based humiliation/shame play with him.) But in my particular situation, it made a relationship that already had plenty of challenges particularly worse and less likely to survive.

And of course, he’s now my ex-boyfriend. So there’s that. You see how well that turned out for him long term.

The Difference Between Being Open and Honest (or Even Blunt) and Jealousy Baiting

I also heard from many readers who wanted to know the difference between being open and honest (or even blunt) and actively jealousy baiting someone.

Because I was careful to specify in my earlier article that experiencing jealousy isn’t a sign that someone intended to cause it. It’s entirely normal to feel occasional jealousy or insecurity. That’s life — whether you’re poly, mono, or ambi. And even if someone else said something that set you off, that doesn’t necessarily mean they meant to set you off or to hurt you.

That’s important.

Jealousy baiting all boils down to intent.  As I wrote in my last article, it can be really tough to confirm if you’ve been jealousy baited. Because we really have no way of completely accurately understanding someone’s intent. Even when they say something so blunt and cruel-sounding that it strains credibility to believe it could be meant any other way, we’re never exactly sure, are we?

But here are some things to look out for.

  • Direct comparisons. The person jealousy baiting you is directly comparing you to someone else and pointing out how you fall short.
  • Targeting of insecurities that they know bother you.
  • Announcing that they’ve “won” somehow.
  • Mocking tone of voice. (This one is really subjective though.)

Examples of Very Probable Jealousy Baiting

So what does this look like? Well, here are two examples, one coming from a partner angle, another coming from a metamour:

Partner Scenario: You are eating in a restaurant with your partner and a group of friends. Your partner has recently broken up with his other partner. Apropos of nothing and in front of all of your friends, your partner says, “I miss my ex so much. It was good to finally have a partner who can keep up with me intellectually.”

Metamour Scenario: You are talking about something else altogether when your metamour suddenly stops and pivots mid-conversation, saying, “I’m glad I’m sleeping with your partner now since she prefers people who are skinny like me to ones who are your size.”

Look For a Pattern

Those are pretty flagrant examples. The kind that frankly punch me in the gut. And piss me the hell off — not only when they happen to me but also when I hear of them happening to others.

There are also other more subtle acts, ones that fall closer to the line  between jealousy baiting and innocent sharing/oversharing. That are harder to figure out whether they were intended to cause jealousy, pain, or humiliation or not. In those circumstances, it can be helpful to look for a pattern of behavior.

Keep an Eye Out for the Three C’s: Cruelty, Competition, and Comparisons

But if you’re looking for jealousy baiting in general, keep an eye out for the three C’s: Cruelty, competition, and comparisons.

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Books by Page Turner:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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