Jenny Block gives advice about how to manage jealousy in an open relationship.
What about jealousy? It's the question everyone asks. I thought I would focus on two emails I received on the subject, one from someone who is not married and one from someone who is; both people are dealing with the issue that always seems to come up whenever polyamory is discussed: jealousy.
Question: I am a bisexual woman and am in an open relationship. We have three major rules: no secrets, if we hook up with other people, we do it together, and no kissing other partners. We've had both good and bad experiences with both couples and singles. The thing is, although I know my boyfriend loves me, I still sometimes get jealous when he is with another woman. He actually sounds different when he is with someone else and that scares me. I don't want to compete with other women and I want us both to be happy. How can I work towards not feeling jealousy any longer?
Answer: Well, that is an excellent question and one of the hardest. Now, I am not a counselor, so I can only tell you about my own experience. But what you are asking about is the inner struggle that we all have about nearly everything we do in life—work, friendly competition, family. Everything. We all want to be good at what we do, preferably the best, and we also all want to be recognized for being good at what we do. This is all about battling your own demons. You have to trust that he loves you and trust that he wants to be with you—otherwise he wouldn't be with you. It may sound cliché, but it's true that if you're going to love others, you have to first love yourself. So, maybe that's the best place to start. Once you trust yourself, you'll be able to trust him too. When he's with other women, it's different, not better. You are the one he loves and wants to be committed to. So in his eyes, you don't have to worry. You are the best.
Question: I am in an open marriage. I think it's true that opening a marriage is not a way to fix a marriage. But our marriage is not broken. I want to do this. Still, I get jealous and worry he might leave me. He tells me again and again that this is only about sex and he has no intention of leaving. So, how can I get that green-eyed monster to take a hike?
Answer: Thanks for writing. I think it might be helpful for you to join some online communities and check out some polyamory focused websites so you can see how other couples are managing this. You can search polyamory at tribe.net or yahoo groups or livejournal.com to find some, and www.practicalpolyamory.com is a great resource for those in open relationships. You might even want to check out polyinthemedia.blogspot.com to see how the press is tackling the subject.
This is all about love and trust and, perhaps, above all, mindset. You have to trust your husband to tell you the truth and you have to love him enough to want him to be as happy, just as you have every right to be happy. He can leave just as easily if the relationship is closed. The important thing is to keep talking about how you both feel. In the end, all you can do is take it one day at a time and trust that love will take you and your relationship where it needs to be.