When I started dealing with open relationships, the only message I got over and over again was: Jealousy is bad. The goal should be to free myself from it, because everything behind it is reprehensible. My first book on the subject even managed to capture this statement in pictures. On the cover was a heart wrapped in steel chains, sealed by a mighty castle. Other books that followed later prefer to use meaningful words, such as “Overcoming Jealousy” or ” Conquering Jealousy”. Finally, I came across “The Ethical Slut”, a book that apparently all people who deal with open relationships have held in their hands at least once in their lives, and even there I did not find myself. I felt like I was failing.
I was shaped by the idea that jealousy is bad and I have to work on myself to overcome everything behind it. As a result, I felt either bad and guilty because I dared to be jealous, intimidated and overwhelmed, because I had already failed because of the apparent foundations of an open relationship. Today I see it differently.
Of course, jealousy is complicated and diverse and sometimes difficult to understand, but it can also indicate two things. First, I am made aware of my own fears and concerns. Second, other people behave dishonestly or against certain agreements and hurt me. In both cases I can’t avoid thinking about what I want, what is important to me and how I want to lead interpersonal relationships. If someone behaves dishonestly and I lose confidence in people, I may realize that for me honesty is the basic requirement for any relationship. If agreements are disregarded, then the question of “the why” is obvious and can encourage people to think about their own needs and their feasibility.
Either way, I get thrown back on myself and get to know myself better. Without question, it’s also damn hard and damn exhausting. On the one hand, because jealousy conceals fear of loss, envy, feelings of inferiority, shame, envy, the search for security and much more. On the other hand, because jealousy is a big complicated web of past, present and future; for example, in the present I can feel triggered by a painful situation from the past and be afraid that exactly the same thing will happen again in the future.
Jealousy is a bit like a jellyfish, sometimes it swims unchallenged and unnoticed in the sea, sometimes it is completely agitated and restless and moves hectically in all directions. It is important not to forget that we have little or no influence on many things in our environment or on the sea in order to stay with my jellyfish example. Jealousy can feel stronger or weaker depending on my own situations and daily experiences. Sometimes I can practice compersion for other people and sometimes I lie on the floor again, cry and can hardly move because everything overwhelms me. I don’t have to be ready to have a certain kind of relationship at any point in my life. I only had the feeling of failure because books like “The Ethical Slut” put me under pressure to maintain polyamorous relationships at all times in my life, for the rest of my life. Through books like “Love in Abundance” by Kathy Labriola, I have found for the first time that, depending on certain times and contexts in my life, I can and want to live both polyamorous relationships and monogamous relationships. It’s as okay to have mono relationships as it’s okay to have poly relationships as long as you’re honest with yourself and honest with your relationships.
There are certainly people who are never jealous and who may never be, and there are people who will always feel jealousy and will feel it in the future. If I set myself the goal never to feel jealous again, then the drop height is usually very high and I will disappoint myself again and again, because situations can always come, which I did not foresee in such a way. Once I accepted that jealousy is a part of me and that every emotion has a reason to exist, I was finally able to come to terms with it. My motto today is: always breathe. Every tempo for change is right. Don’t be too hard on myself, because I’m good the way I am.
First published in Missy Magazine (online):