Anyone who has been involved in the adult lifestyle or any kind of consensual non-monogamy relationship for any length of time will tell you that jealousy is almost always the first thing they need to address.
Those who successfully navigate the lifestyle, including non-monogamy of some kind, are not immune to jealousy. Like any emotion, none of us are immune to these including jealousy! However, it is fair to say that some people are better at navigating the complexities of jealousy than others.
Whatever your relationship style, if you’re going to engage in play we believe that there are a few things to consider before you do.
Set the rules in advance… and stick to them!
If you’re going to explore your sexuality with your partner, it is important to know what the rules and boundaries are in your relationship…and to stick to them. Seeing that you and your partner cheerfully sticks to any rules you set together is a huge part of building trust. Trust is the number one factor in relationship security. By sticking to the rules that you have agreed upon together, not only are you are respecting each other but you will have a mutual understanding of what is acceptable and what isn’t…And don’t renegotiate at the eleventh hour!
Talk, talk, talk
You knew this one was going to appear, didn’t you? It’s true! Communication is at the heart of every part of a successful relationship. Talk before, talk during, talk after. When you notice a jealous feeling or an insecurity creep in, talk to your partner about it while it’s still small and not overwhelming. Talk about your fears, talk about your insecurities, talk about the things you’re scared might happen and the things you really hope will happen. Talking about a difficult emotion often takes so much of the power out of it.
Be free with affection and reassurance
Jealousy is natural, and emotionally punishing your partner for feeling or expressing it isn’t going to do anyone any good. If your partner says they’re feeling jealous, a good start is “Would you like a hug? I love you. What can I do to reassure you?” And don’t save all your affection for these times, either. Touch each other regularly, make sure to spend quality time together, verbalise your love and affection, and prioritise your sexual relationship. Security is built on the back of thousands of small moments of connection and love.
Spend plenty of time together
If your rules allow you to play separately, great – have fun! But remember not to neglect your partner. Don’t spend all your time running from one hot new person to another and ignore your husband or wife. Don’t spend so long chasing that cutie you’ve got your eye on that your spouse feels neglected and unimportant. Feelings of neglect or being left out are the places where jealousy – and its evil cousin, resentment – are most likely to fester.
Practice positive self-talk
I can’t even tell you how many jealous moments I’ve come through just by sitting by myself and repeating – either aloud or in my head – mantras like “my partner loves me, they are committed to me because they choose to be, their connection with this new person doesn’t mean they love me any less.” Talking positively to yourself is a skill, but the more you practice it the easier it gets. You might feel silly at first, but it doesn’t matter. No-one else can hear you. This is all for you and you alone.
Play the “and then what?” game
I’ve borrowed this one from Cunning Minx, who runs the Polyamory Weekly podcast. Essentially, the goal of this thought experiment is to follow your fears to their (il)logical conclusion, which usually helps you see how ridiculous they are. So, if you’re afraid your partner likes kissing that new person? Okay, and then what? You’re afraid that means they like them more then you. And then what? You’re afraid that means they’ll leave you for this new person. And then what? And so on. Go on and give it a try it right now. See? It gets VERY silly and it’s a surprisingly useful exercise that helps address your fears.
If jealousy becomes overwhelming, seek professional help
There’s no shame in seeking help if jealousy or any other difficult emotion is really debilitating for you. A good sex-positive therapist, counsellor or coach can make all the difference. Investing in relationship therapy with my partner is the best thing I ever did for our relationship, my mental health, and the overall success of our adventures in non-monogamy.
Remember: this is supposed to be FUN!
Those of us in the adult lifestyle do what we do because it’s fun! If you’re having a miserable time and not getting anything out of it, and the jealous feelings aren’t getting any easier, it’s totally okay to reassess if it’s for you… or if it’s for you right now.