Updated: Apr 8, 2020
There are lots of things in life that are Do As I Say, Not As I Do for a person sharing collective advice. I’m a LOT better about applying the strategies I mentioned in my intro post on jealousy now, than I was when I was younger, but I still have a pretty long way to go.
Jealousy essentially being a check engine light for a variety of negative emotions, and that being a fact I know, doesn’t actually help with the moment where everything is covered in a haze of Green Eyed Monster and flames and I want to burn it all down. Realizing that it helps absolutely no one, most especially not me, if I set relationships on fire and need to try to put them out after, has mostly taught me that the set it on fire impulse will pass if I just let it happen for about 5-10 minutes. If I’m learning something in texts that does that to me, I put the phone down (or throw it into a pillow a little too hard); If it’s in a phone call I say “I’m really upset can I call you back in a few?” (and use some language unbecoming of a lady, preferably very loudly, once I'm off the call); If it’s in person I try to take space and I try to not leave the room without warning or just go silent and mentally leave, because the first of those causes a fight anyway, and the second one means I hear none of the explanation that might help me break the jealousy shell and find what’s inside.
If I can spend 5-10 minutes alone smoldering and/or panicking and then shake myself and then try to talk about it, I can follow all the right advice. I can have a calm conversation about it using I statements; I can notice if it’s anger, envy, or old resentment fueling this moment; I can hear my partner’s responses and try to empathize with their position. If I can’t, I’m either total shutdown, says everything is OK and piles on a layer of resentment for later, or BIGASS FIGHT OF THE YEAR - except probably several of them in one year because the same partner who doesn’t like that I need the space becomes the partner who also escalates fights too high. Both those strategies undermine the foundations of relationships. I know that, and I still only have one method that lets me personally avoid them. Your impulses, and your one (or two, or three! I hope you get to have a bigger toolbox of them than my single screwdriver) coping method that gets you to “I can handle this” on jealousy and jealousy-adjacent negative emotions, may differ wildly.
But… I’ve been doing this 12 years, and I still have just about the same categories of Green Eyed Monster moments I’ve ever had. The details change (because no two relationships are the same; because I’m older; because priorities make some things Less of A Big Deal Now) but I have two big jealousy triggers: feeling like someone else is getting something I can’t ever have; or that I don’t know someone, and I feel like they’re either perfect, and I can’t be, or awful, and getting treated better than that when I’m not. Do you see the common thread there? It’s a resentment or unmet need for me, hiding under a layer of “I don’t get that!” tantruming toddler. Logic would dictate that I’d notice I’m having issues with resentment, find workarounds or workbooks, and become generally better at realizing it’s resentment in the moment, and be able to say that. Being a very real, living, breathing woman… I can’t figure out it’s not that I should burn you in effigy while berating you until about ten minutes in, and even then I’m kind of like the Barenaked Ladies song and I’ll admit I’m wrong about a week in, unless this is reoccuring.
None of this is meant to make you think polyamory is too much work or too hard. It’s to reassure you that THIS IS NORMAL. Just like all relationships, monogamous or polyamorous, include work, and compromise, and the occasional hard conversation, and that doesn’t mean that you in them have failed, it means being polyamorous and in long term relationships still includes being jealous. Where a mono person’s jealousy might revolve around a close friend, a flirtation, a hobby that takes too much time; a poly person’s might not be any of those, because you have different standards for what’s cool with you, but there will probably still be something. We’re not magical beasts, we’re not “more evolved”, so being human is OK.
Me being kind of a wreck until I realize I haven’t met a new partner and I’m assuming she’s a supermodel astrophysics genius until I have actual information is OK. Me not realizing that’s my pattern and I need to meet my metas as soon as a relationship is getting reasonably serious on either my end or theirs, depending who’s new, would be a problem. I’ve figured that one out. You’ll notice your patterns eventually - or that they differ by kind of relationship - I have different specific things within those big categories for men and women, and for older or younger partners.
Regardless, it’s fine and pretty important to have those moments, and we all do. Anyone who says otherwise is at best too idealistic and at worst trying to convince you that you shouldn’t have your feelings. I know the goal is to work on what we do in our heads at those very moments, but I’m still at what to do later, with the information they gave me.
It's a lot better than the literal burning in effigy with groups of my girl friends of my teens, or the metaphorical version with the screaming, breaking things fights of the first few years of my 20s. But it's not where I wish it was. And that's normal, too. Wanting to grow is a good thing.