Pleasures rendered harmless through intelligence can liberate wonderful unnoticed possibilities. When a person desires more than one lover that longing probably will not find satisfaction through any amount of great sex with a single person. I live in open relationships and have done so for two decades. Anyone who tries to coerce a lover into such a lifestyle would be asking for a hellish reaction; such manipulation seems as cruel as trying to impose monogamy.
Open relationships suffer the same weakness as monogamy if we depend on idealism or pre-conceived notions. Our expectations are easily shattered. Example, a partner agrees to open a relationship, and then the one asking for the liberty meets their own jealousy when their partner discovers a love interest! How to deal with jealousy? Let’s start with a vulnerable kind of honesty.
Telling a mate you are attracted to others takes courage, even if the sex remains unconsummated. We cannot predict the reactivity arising from insecurity, pain, jealousy, vanity or sense of betrayal. Lovers who feel spurned tend to give ultimatums and these often have unintended consequences
A relationship that began closed will probably be difficult to open. An estranged couple may try to save the love affair by inviting in others. Real life shatters the dream when open sexuality sacrifices discovery to seek an imagined outcome. Sometimes people try to deal with problems by imposing arbitrary rules like establishing the positions of a “primary” (most important) and secondary partners. I argue these roles are a set up to fail. But how to deal with jealousy? We cannot manage lovers or their feelings for others by decree or agreement. We have no crystal ball. Any illusion of control will probably be disappointing and invites jealousy. Moreover, organizing lovers in a hierarchy sounds a bit like king of the hill and smacks of rivalry. Those attempting open sexuality often have more rules than many monogamous married people. We should avoid carelessness that spreads disease in the same way we are careful preparing food. Beyond this simple and imperfect framework, I think rules are little more than a teddy bear for consolation.
We can arrive at any conclusion about sex if we will just search for the authoritative explanations we want. That is not How to deal with jealousy. We can associate non-monogamy with sin, addiction or pathology, or describe it as adult responsibility, freedom and sharing joy. All interpretations of desire will rest on conjecture, regardless of the amount of case study or the numbers of those in agreement with the conclusion. Some descriptions of particular desire may be better than others but we cannot verify which ones are closer to the truth. That would be as difficult as proving why some people have different feelings receiving the same gift then explaining what emotions are right/healthy or wrong/unhealthy. Why waste time pissing up that rope? But I digress. Labeling or explaining our sexuality will not guarantee us sanctuary from passions like jealousy.
The green-eyed monster can arise without even the slightest cause. Any relationship can force us to turn and face the emotional intensity of others often fueled by wild imagination. We would be wise to lookout for possessiveness and recon with it instead of reacting. That is how to deal with jealousy. Our endurance for bullshit should have a limit. Shattered romantic expectations do NOT justify brutality or vindictiveness. We can suffer indefinitely adhering to wishful-thinking and this flaw is more common than people like to admit. If someone becomes violent, coercive, or delusional I may chose to love that person from a great distance.
Not everyone grasps situational reasoning. When it comes to lovers, we can be stifled and impose limits relying on a strategy that does not account for the real circumstances. That is not how to deal with jealousy. Remember we can abandon any strategy and fall back to the unknown and begin anew. We can pass through the experience of possessiveness and come to a beautiful new understanding about those we love and ourselves.
Many people have trouble with things they imagine they can do easily. With open relationships, we may seem knowledgeable and even proud when things go according to plan. Nevertheless, the captain at sea accommodates the ship to the ocean not the other way around. The ocean can surprise the experienced sailor and calm waters do not result from his best efforts or knowledge.
For those who feel the pain of jealousy these words will be no consolation. I will offer the “tools” that helped me later in this series and hope that they will be of use to others. I will dare to suggest one thing now. We do not have reason for misery resulting simply from our partners loving or sleeping with others.
In part three – Different Faces of Jealousy – I will discuss some of the anguish of this destructive emotion.