I’ve been seeing more than the usual amount of discussion about jealousy on various poly boards lately, so I figure this might be a little topical to people. I have pulled out of the air the Definitive Five-Point List of Ways to Fuck Up Handling Jealousy. I am sharing this because I am wise and all knowing about polyamory and I will deign to share my knowledge with you, puny mortal.
1. Blame your partner
“Hey, I wouldn’t be feeling jealous if my partner were doing things right, right? If only she weren’t making me feel insecure, everything would be dandy!”
Making your partner responsible for your feelings is a sure way to mess up a relationship. There is a significant difference in, “I don’t like X behavior” and “You’re making me feel jealous.” If you don’t grok this difference down in your bones, learning about emotional boundaries is a really productive thing you can do for yourself and your relationships. It is not unusual for jealousy to be about personal insecurity.
As Franklin Veaux once commented, “Just because I feel bad doesn’t mean you did something wrong.” Don’t assume that your feelings prove anything but that you’re feeling something.
2. Blame the partner’s partner
“If only my partner’s partner would not make me feel insecure, I wouldn’t be so uncomfortable, right?” (See a pattern?)
Again, feeling bad on your part doesn’t necessarily mean malfeasance on the other person’s part. People aren’t saints, but assumptions don’t help.
3. Blame yourself
“If only I were more secure/better looking/better in bed/more evolved I wouldn’t feel so upset.”
Feelings might be uncomfortable sometimes, but they’re not necessarily because you did something bad, either. Jealousy isn’t always about personal insecurity. Sometimes there really is, no kidding, a problem among the partners.
I break with some of the more New Age polyamorous writers, in that I do not feel that jealousy is always some sort of weird emotional aberration of the spiritually unevolved. It can and often is a personal security issue, but sometimes partners do take us for granted, or are not giving us what we all agreed upon. It’s okay to talk about that.
4. Lie about it
“What’s the matter, honey?”
Don’t do this. In a good relationship, it’s okay to say, “Actually, I’m feeling kinda jealous right now. I want to: examine this by myself and get back to you/talk with you about how I’m feeling/have a backrub so I can relax.”
Notice this isn’t making your partner responsible for how you feel. But it is communicating. I mean, you want an accurate picture of what your partner is thinking and feeling, right? What makes you think your partner is any different? When people love each other, they do care how the other feels even if it’s hardly healthy to take responsibility for it.
5. Ignore it
Like physical pain, emotional pain is a sign that something needs attention. There are dozens of reasons why you might be feeling jealous – some of them internal, some to do with externals. Unless and until you sit down and examine them with an open mind and without preconceptions, you can’t know. But if you don’t take a good look at what you’re feeling and why, it is going to fester and infect your relationships.
 Not really. It’s the number that came to me off the top of my head. I’m sure my Faithful Readers could come up with more.
 <grinning at one of my Guest Columnists> I should be ashamed of myself. But I’m not.