Saturday, July 30, 2011

Overcoming Jealousy: Nona

Hmm... I feel like I don't have much to say. Most of the good advice has already been taken.

I will say this. Don't be afraid to acknowledge your feelings. If you're feeling jealous, recognize that. You certainly can't do anything to fix it if you don't accept that it's happening. And don't be afraid to express your feelings. Expressing how you feel is the surest way to get something positive done about it.


Overcoming Jealousy: Terri

Whenever I introduce myself as Alan's third wife, people give me funny looks. Usually their first assumption is that Alan has been divorced twice, and they wonder why I would announce such a thing. If they're still listening after I've explained to them that he's still married to his first two wives, and that we're not Mormon, they usually ask if I get jealous because I'm the third wife.

I'm Alan's third wife only in chronological order. None of us are better or more important than the others. Yet people see to have this idea that we have ranks. They often ask things like, "Don't you worry that he loves one of you more than the others?" The answer: No.

Many people see love like water in the desert. You only have so much, and the more people you give it to, the less each person gets (or one gets a lot and the others get little). Try telling that to a parent. I doubt you could find a single parent in the world who would say that when they have another child that they love each child a little less.

Love is not limited. However, time and energy are, and I think that's where people get confused. They equate time and energy with love. Granted, if you love someone, you will make time for them. But that doesn't mean that doesn't mean that Alan loves me any less because he chooses to spends some of his time with other people.

It helps to understand that you are not the only person in your partner's life. Friends, family, kids, work. We all have things that divide up our time. Even in a monogamous relationship, you can't give 100% of your time to one person. So, it's important to think about how much attention you actually need, and to communicate with your partner(s) about that. If I feel like I'm not getting to spend enough time with Alan, all I have to do is talk to him about it and we can work out a solution.

Jealousy, in the sense of wanting something someone else has, happens. But recognizing that we're human, that limits on time and energy are not the same as limits on love, and with good communication, you can work past it.


Overcoming Jealousy: Tiffany

Yay! It's my first post!

Well, being one of the few monogamous people in this house, I have a slightly different take on jealousy. I like to distinguish between a desire for romantic exclusivity and possessiveness. Both are often referred to as jealousy, but they are not the same thing.

There are somethings that only my girlfriend, Irene, and I share with each other. We enjoy having aspects of our lives that are kept special and private. But that does not mean that we own each other. Irene is an adult and she can make her own decisions. If I start trying to control her in order to preserve that "specialness," I am not treating her with respect, and that does more to hurt our dynamic than her spending time with other people.

Of course there are times when I feel like I don't get to spend enough time with her. But a simple conversation can quickly fix that. Treating your partner with respect and good communication can go a long way to solve jealousy problems.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Words have meanings

About a month ago, the New York Times did an article on sex columnist Dan Savage's views on sexual exclusivity. It's a really long article, so to summarize:

Dan Savage believes that things like honesty, trust, and stability are more important in a relationship than monogamy. He claims that as a society we have become so obsessed with the idea of sexual exclusivity that we have lost sight of the reality of our sexual desires. He says that romantic partners need to be completely honest with each other about what they need and want from the relationship. Following from this, he says that monogamy works well for some people, but that if you want to be everything for your partner sexually, then you need to be willing to be everything. If you feel that you cannot reasonably meet all your partner's desires, he suggests that you consider some form of non-monogamy, in order to preserve the health of the primary relationship. However, I wouldn't call him pro-polyamory, as he seriously doubts that long-term multiple partner relationships can work.

While I disagree with his stance on polyamory, I find I agree with his overall point. Healthy relationships require partners to communicate honestly about what they need and want (and everything else as well). In our society it seems that the primary determining factor of the success of a relationship is sexual exclusivity. That seems rather ridiculous to me. So, it's refreshing to see someone focusing on what it actually takes to have healthy relationships.

And now the bad....

While I thought that on the whole the article was rather positive, I take serious issue with the use of the term “infidelity.” (In)fidelity comes from the Latin word “fides,” meaning trust. Thus, infidelity is characterized by a breach of trust. If all parties involved fully consent to non-monogamy, then there is no breach of trust, and by definition, no infidelity. By equating sexual exclusivity with fidelity, one implies that people who are not monogamous are not trustworthy.

This is a big problem. Words have meanings. But more than that, words have implications. While infidelity (in a relationship context) means not being sexually exclusive, it carries a lot of baggage beyond that meaning. There are many characteristics associated with sexual infidelity that are not explicitly in the definition. Untrustworthiness, immaturity, addiction to sex, lack of commitment, perversion, etc. By equating all forms of non-monogamy with infidelity, one implies that non-monogamous people have these characteristics.

Words have incredible power to shape reality. If all forms of non-monogamy are labeled as infidelity, all that baggage gets dumped on non-monogamous people. And that baggage affects how the rest of society sees these people. For example, if you meet an young woman who says she's a cheerleader, you will likely make some assumptions about her based on the characteristics associated with that label (vanity, lack of intelligence, etc.). She may be a genius, but you will likely judge her based on that stereotype.

Such judgement can become very harmful. If a person believes the stereotypes associated with infidelity, and infidelity is equated with all non-monogamy, then they may likely come to a conclusion such as that non-monogamous people are unfit to be parents. Would you want CPS coming to take your children away because of an assumption about your character based on the label others use for your relationship?

This is why the meanings of words are important. Calling all non-monogamy infidelity is not only intellectually dishonest, it can be harmful to healthy, loving families.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Overcoming Jealousy: Anne

Well, being single, I don't have much to say about jealousy in relationships. But I can certainly talk about being jealous OF relationships.

As mentioned in my last post, I'm one of two single people in the house (not counting the small children). It sucks. Everybody's got somebody, but I have to sleep alone. No cuddles for me. It's easy to see how someone in my situation would be jealous of those in relationships. The fact is, I do get jealous.

I don't really know what to do about it. There really isn't anyone I know right now who I'd want to be in a relationship with. I'm homeschooled, so that kind of reduces the dating pool.

Come to think of it, I'm not even sure why I want to be in a relationship. I guess that's my advice. If you're jealous, ask yourself why you want the thing that someone else has.