Relationship Advice and Columns

Gender and Jealousy

I have written about jealousy before but it seems to be the topic that never goes away, so I felt compelled to write about it yet again. Over the weekend I went to a couple of poly events and I was asked repeatedly, do I get jealous? The answer is, well yes. The relationship between polyamory and jealousy is an interesting one. In some ways, we have more opportunities to be jealous because we might see our partner(s) with other people and feel jealous. We might hear our partner(s) talk about experiences they’ve had with other people and feel jealous. In monogamy, jealousy gets swept under the rug. Some people feel it shouldn’t even be discussed. I don’t think that’s a particularly healthy way to deal with jealousy and personally, I can’t sweep things under rugs.

I like talking about things and jealousy is sometimes one of those things. I feel that actually talking about it is the better thing to do because you can get to the root of why you feel that way. I think jealousy does come from a deeply ingrained place and we started learning about it as children. I think nearly everyone has some experience of abandonment in childhood and when you become an adult, it’s normal and sometimes healthy to feel that your partner may abandon you. At the end of the day, we have to feel confident in ourselves and in our relationships. Most relationships will end at some point and it’s important to know we can depend on ourselves and our friends and family for support when that does happen. However, I think that few poly relationships end due to jealousy because many of us are able to ask for what we need. For example, the jealousy may indicate that you want more time with your partner. If you don’t share that with your partner, they’ll never know.

So, what’s the relationship between gender and jealousy? Last year, I attended an academic polyamory conference in which one of the presenters gave a talk on jealousy. She compared poly men and women with regards to sexual jealousy, meaning you’re jealous because your partner is having sex with someone else, and emotional jealousy, meaning you’re jealous because your partner is forming emotional bonds with someone else. I was surprised to hear that her sample of poly men got more emotionally jealous than the women. Many people think that women are more prone to emotional jealousy, but I also think that many men are taught to take care for their partners, so when they see someone else starting to fulfill that role, they feel jealous. On the other hand, women are often taught to keep a tight hold on a good man when they find one. For thousands of years, women had to depend on men for financial security, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t want their men shacking up with other people. However, given that more and more women are in the workforce, this is of less concern. Thus, I think you can see that the relationship between gender and jealousy isn’t so clear cut.

So yes, I get jealous, but I can deal with it. Communication and a healthy sense of self are important, though they take time to be developed. Usually I just need a bit of reassurance that I’m important to my partner. I do believe though that having metamours (when your partner has a partner) has more benefits than drawbacks. As I mentioned recently, Tony and Ben get along and that makes me really happy. Awhile ago, Ben was dating someone and the 2 of them made a cake for me. I have to say, having metamours is pretty sweet…

If you have any questions, email me at Ben and I leave on Friday afternoon for Korea. Either before then or during our long plane ride, I will write a blog on saying goodbye, an important part of most relationships.


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