AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

How Jealousy Affects Relationships

I always get questions about whether I get jealous as a poly person. Of course it happens, but it also happens in any sort of relationship. For people who are monogamous, jealousy is present, but in a way, you are choosing not to deal with it or you just ignore it. For example, I was with the same person for 8.5 years until 2 years ago and we were monogamous; we remain friends. However, his girlfriend doesn’t want us to hang out because she’s jealous about it. He and I lived in Japan together and often went to karaoke there. We have liked doing it in Toronto as well. She is apparently especially jealous of that because she’s not a good singer. Also, we frequented a particular karaoke place where you have your own room, so she’s scared things will happen in that room. I have absolutely no intention of being sexual with my ex again, but I would like to be his friend. I’m nervous for him because they are moving in together this summer. I hope that she won’t squelch his social life because she wants to be with him all the time. Anyway, you can see that her jealousy has affected our relationship. I understand that she may be intimidated by our long relationship and it sounds to me like she hasn’t had a very positive long relationship either. I wish that this needn’t be the case. I remember when my ex and I started dating; I met his female best friend. I never thought that they would become romantically involved, but I was envious of the fact that she knew so much about him and I wanted that knowledge as well. Yes, envy is different from jealousy, but these are 2 terms under the same umbrella. The nice thing is, if you can be friends with the person, you can learn more about them. Recently, I’ve been spending time with Ben’s best friend and ex and I really enjoy hearing about what Ben was like in the past.

People often say that jealousy is caused by insecurity. I think this can be especially tricky for women because we are often taught by society not to believe in ourselves. I feel very lucky because I had a very supportive family. My parents almost never criticized anything I did and as a result, I have become a confident person. When I was a child, after my parents separated, my mom walked around the house naked a lot of the time and that helped me to be confident in my body. Many women have not been as lucky as me. I hope that with passing time, every woman will appreciate themselves and be appreciated for who they are. 

Compersion has been called the opposite of jealousy. Compersion means being happy for your partner, especially in the context of them doing things with other people. In poly, this could be them having a date or having sex with someone else. Although compersion has been a concept specifically designed for poly people, it can be used in the context of any relationship. If you aren’t poly, you can be happy for your partner when they, for example, make a new friend, get a new job, or have some other kind of important life event. Even if you were poly, you would of course be happy for your partner for those things as well. Why can’t we apply compersion to every relationship? I wish that my ex’s girlfriend would be happy when we spend time together because we meant a lot to each other and to an extent, we still do. We gave each other a lot of experiences we wouldn’t have otherwise had if we hadn’t been together. I probably never would have lived in Japan, for example, and I’m very grateful for him in that regard. I would very much like my ex and his girlfriend to be at my wedding. We’ll see if that comes to pass.

If you have any questions, send me an email to miriam@askmiriam.ca

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