I May Love The Swinger Lifestyle, But I Still Get Jealous

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I May Love The Swinger Lifestyle, But I Still Get Jealous
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And I'm working on it...

Before I met my wife, I didn’t think I was a jealous person. I was never the type to have a problem with close male friends, time spent with others or friendships with exes. I always thought I was very secure and confident in what I had to offer and in the fact that she chose me — and if she later chose otherwise, that was her loss.

But when my wife and I started dating, that proved no longer to be true. She had one close male friend I very much disliked and whose friendship with her put me on edge. I never told her to stop spending time with him, but I was open with her about my feelings. My personal dislike of him meant that she, almost by necessity, spent less time with him, and their friendship faded.

When we first began exploring non-monogamy, seeing my wife flirting with the wrong guy would sometimes send my stomach into knots.

I didn’t like feeling like a jealous person — and not just because “jealous” is a four-letter-word in this community. It just didn’t jive with my mental image of myself. 

There must be something else going on, I thought. Sure, I love my wife in a way, and to a degree, I'd never felt during previous relationships, but could that really be all there was?

Over time, I was able to recognize and work through some of my other fears, particularly my concerns about being replaced as my wife’s “favorite” and “best," but there was clearly another distinct feeling I could not understand.

I found another piece of the puzzle during a swinger party we attended with a close female friend of ours — a woman whom we’ve gotten to know very well and who we now consider a close friend even outside of the non-monogamy sphere. Watching her flirt and play at that party elicited many of the same “jealousy” feelings in me I’d previously had with my wife. 

This doesn’t make sense, I thought. Of course, I care a great deal for his woman, but my feelings for her were not on a par with those for my wife. Why, then, was I having the same, and new, “jealous” response?

This all finally clicked when I realized there were several guys at the party who elicited none of these feelings in me when they flirted with her.

"What makes these men different," I wondered.

One day, after watching my wife flirt at a party and feeling those hallmark stomach knots, then later watching her go down on a different guy and having no problems at all, it hit me:

I'm not feeling jealous when men flirt with my wife and this woman we both care about — I am feeling protective of them.

The difference comes from the fact that I want these women treated with respect. I want their safety and consent absolutely guaranteed and I want them to be eager and active participants who are well taken care of. If those things are true, then I’m totally fine with them being with other men.

A guy who goes slowly, behaves respectfully and shows he’s interested in more than just “gettin’ some” is going to be someone I’m totally OK with. If I don’t feel like these basic things are true — if a guy comes off as sleazy, presumes consent, or seems like he’s trying to push her limits — that’s what triggers my stomach-in-knots reaction.

For the record, sometimes the woman in question agrees with me, but often it’s clear their tolerance is much higher than mine.

You might say that this is some kind of patriarchal, anti-feminist response I need to get over. These are two brilliant, well-educated, and responsible women who don’t need me making their decisions for them. And of course, that’s right.

But my reaction is also partly based on my knowledge that they both have trouble saying ‘No.' They’re people pleasers who don’t like to rock the boat. They’re both working on that, and again, it’s not my place to turn their ‘Yes’ into a ‘No.' But I will not hesitate to check in and give them another chance to change their minds or offer to be the bad-guy who can verbalize their ‘No’ even if they wouldn’t.

It’s often said that the things that we hate about others are the things we hate about ourselves.

That’s definitely at play here.

I am uncomfortable with the idea of “seduction" (even if I will toot my own horn and say that I can be pretty good at it). I’d rather live in a world of explicit, verbal consent. But I have pushed my luck more than a few times, and the reason I make such a point of emphasizing consent, in my own play and in theirs, is because it’s something I’ve had to make a conscious effort with. I expect the same kind of effort, and frankly an even higher level of success at it, from men who want my approval to be with women I care about.

Do those men need it? No.

Do these women need to care about it? Definitely not.

But being honest with myself and with them about my feelings is vital to this kind of non-monogamy, and to the self-knowledge I’ve been able to glean from these experiences has been crucial to that communication.

 

 

This article was originally published at Life On The Swingset. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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