The Storm Inside: Jealousy in a Non Monogamous Relationship

Our experiences with raging jealousy and what we did about it

Liz Sinclair

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Photo by Shashank Sahay on Unsplash

There is almost universal agreement on this aspect of non monogamy: if you’re in a non monogamous relationship assume you will feel jealousy at some point.

When we first opened up our relationship and became non monogamous, I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I could handle the jealousy. I’d watch my husband text with another woman, or get ready for a date, looking cleanly shaven, smelling good and all dressed up as he left the house, and feel a little twinge of something in my tummy, and pat myself on the back for being able to handle the jealousy.

Little did I know that there are different triggers and that jealousy comes in all shades; from twinge in the tummy to raging, mind-blowing painful spears of jealousy that ravage your intestines.

But before I tell you what happened, I want to start this post with a few definitions. I know we all think we know what jealousy is. But I’ve noticed it’s often confused with envy. It’s also the opposite of compersion, which is a word I heard for the first time only a few months ago (and that my computer tries desperately to auto-correct to “comparison”). So just to be totally clear on what I mean, here are a few definitions:

Jealousy is the feeling triggered by thinking you will lose someone to someone else. In other words, it’s an emotion that is felt when you are threatened by someone else taking what you have. It is a complex, unpleasant and incredibly challenging emotion. And, in a non monogamous relationship, you are opening yourself up to feeling jealousy because your partner is seeing someone else.

At its root, jealousy can be triggered by several different underlying feelings. Low self-esteem is a big one — that ugly voice in your head that says that you can’t possibly be good enough to keep your partner interested if they meet someone who is prettier, skinnier, more sexual, etc. Or it can be triggered by a need to control your life and the people in it. Jealousy can also be triggered by a rational fear or vulnerability to a particular situation where there is an actual risk of losing what you have — like, it’s not just in your head that your…

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Liz Sinclair

Ordinary, middle-aged, university educated, working mother of three in a long-term loving marriage. Oh, and also non monogamous.