There’s a wide held belief amongst the monogamous community that polyamorous individuals (or other non-monogamous people) do not experience jealousy. This is why people often say things like “oh, I could never do that” when confronted with the reality that non-monogamy is an option. People assume that if they feel jealous at the thought of their partner being with someone else then that’s a done deal for them with monogamy, that’s it – no discussion; non-monogamy is off the table. The fact of the matter is, that’s just not true. That isn’t how it works. I’m not saying everyone has to try out polyamory, or another form of non-monogamy. By all means, if you have no interest then don’t. But jealousy, in and of itself, does not disqualify you from the possibility of having healthy non-monogamous relationships. Sorry to burst your bubble, but being polyamorous doesn’t mean you never feel jealous.
Point #1: Just because you feel jealousy doesn’t mean you’re bad at, or failing in, polyamory.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling jealous. It happens. It may happen for you during non-monogamous relationships, but it can also happen for you during monogamous ones. No one is immune to jealousy. It may affect some people less than others, but that’s typically because of the mindset those individuals have and the time they’ve put in to self-work.
Point #2: Jealousy is a natural and healthy emotion that can help us identify when there are issues or self-work that need to be dealt with.
The emotion of jealousy is really typically just insecurities. It’s your mind going “hey, I feel uncomfortable with this” or “this scares me.” It’s part of your flight or fight response. It urges you to fix things quickly so that the bad outcome you’re worried about doesn’t happen. Sometimes the jealousy points towards your fear of losing someone. Sometimes it points towards other fears or concerns. It is important to sit with your jealousy to uncover what insecurity is behind it, so that you can work through that. You don’t want to just go freaking out on your partner or trying to implement more rules to encourage your control where you really can’t control things. Rules don’t help prevent jealousy, they just hide it away so it doesn’t have to be dealt with. But jealousy – or the underlying cause of it – isn’t just going to go away because you decided to ignore it. It’s important to do the self-work to make yourself feel confident and content. It’s your responsibility – not your partners – to make sure you work through problems of insecurity. If you’re needing some extra attention, then tell your partner. If you’re needing them to love you through a different love language, let them know. If you’re worried they don’t love you anymore, or that they love someone else more, etc. then speak with them about your feelings and ask for comfort or reassurance (or try to just deal with it on your own). Now…if your jealousy is rooted in envy of someone else…that’s a whole other box of crackers, and you need to shut that shit down.
Point #3: Whether or not you CAN work through your jealousy and anxiety – you are never obligated to do anything other than what feels right for you (even if that means you decide polyamory isn’t it).
It is perfectly acceptable for you to say, “You know what? I don’t have the time or energy or motivation to work through my jealousy right now. I think polyamory is just too much for me at this point in my life.” Or forever. It’s okay if you never want to try it. That’s okay. You aren’t obligated to work on things for other people if you really don’t want to. Just realize that this may mean you lose people, or relationships. That’s also okay, though. Loss can suck but it isn’t the end of the world. Sometimes focusing on yourself or your life in other areas is what is most important, and that’s completely alright.
Point #4: Working through any potential jealousy issues you may have is important for the health of ANY type of romantic relationship you engage in, regardless of if you choose monogamy or non-monogamy.
This is just fact. Even if you decide to stay monogamous it is important to make sure you are having healthy monogamous relationships. Blindly acting out because of your feelings of jealousy isn’t good for anybody – yourself included. You need to dig deeper and try to understand yourself and where the jealousy is coming from. If you want to stay in a monogamous relationship because you can’t handle the thought of seeing your partner with someone else, that is fine. However, you still need to tone your jealousy back so that it isn’t negatively affecting your monogamous relationship. Being possessive, or trying to control who your partner sees or what they do, or other toxic behaviors like reading through their emails or text messages, etc. is just not okay. Do yourself, and your partner, a favor and figure your shit out so that you aren’t creating abusive or toxic dynamics with your loved ones. Self-work isn’t just for non-monogamous individuals. Unchecked jealousy can be dangerously unhealthy in any type of relationship.