Ten Responses To “But Don’t You Get Jealous?”

“But if your partner can have other partners, don’t you get jealous?”

  1. Of course.

  2. Yeah, but it’s not like I didn’t get jealous when I was in monogamous relationships. Monogamy isn’t a cure for jealousy, it’s just a different set of circumstances in which to experience it.

  3. Yes, but I also open myself up to situations that can cause jealousy when I have friends who are friends with other people, when I have coworkers and project collaborators who work with other people, when I know writers who write and share writing ideas with other people. The thing is: although all of those situations open up the possibility that I might end up feeling jealous or inadequate or insecure, they also enrich my life in enormous ways that I would never in a million years trade away.

  4. Yes I do, and certainly there are some situations I’m going to get into as a result of being poly that are going to be really difficult, and be a potentially stronger trigger for jealousy than most situations I might get into while being monogamous. For some people, myself included, that comes with the territory.

  5. Yes, and yes, sometimes it really bothers me. It also means I get more opportunities to face it head-on. The times when jealousy is really bad are the times when I am forced to examine where it comes from, and to learn about it, and, in the process, to learn about me.

  6. Yes, but it also means I get to unlearn one of the worst root causes of jealousy for me. For me, poly provides an opportunity to unlearn this culturally ingrained habit of thinking oppositionally. When I was monogamous, and someone I was interested in decided they wanted to go out with someone else, it was easy to feel like that was because I wasn’t good enough — that I wasn’t as attractive or interesting as that other person. Being poly, though, means that when someone decides they don’t want to date me, it isn’t because some other person is “better”. If they’re poly, it means that they could date me anyway, which means that I don’t have to think about my rejections in the frame of “I’m just not as good as that other person is.”. I get to practice thinking about them in the frame of “Something just didn’t work between this person and me.”.

  7. Absolutely, but although I may sometimes feel jealousy about my partners’ partners, I also sometimes meet them, and talk to them, and make new friends. Sometimes my partners’ partners become my friends, and sometimes they even become my partners.

  8. Of course, but the same situations that sometimes cause jealousy can also teach me things about sex and relationships that I never would have learned otherwise. Maybe my partner has a kind of sex with one of their other partners that they’ve never had with me. On the one hand, something like that might end up making me feel uncomfortable. On the other hand, it also means I get an opportunity to learn how to do that kind of sex. Maybe my partner communicates with one of their other partners in a way I haven’t tried. On the one hand, that could make me feel insecure, but on the other, it gives me an opportunity to learn a new way to communicate, too.

  9. Yes, but this is what I want. This is the way that I want my relationships to look, and if dealing with jealousy is something I’m going to have to work on in order for my relationships to look the way that I want them to look, then it’s something I’m going to have to work on.

  10. Yes, and it’s worth it.


 Author’s sidenote: every single one of these answers is true for me. The “I don’t get jealous” answer is not true for me, which is why it has not been included, although I readily knowledge that it is true for some people.

6 comments on “Ten Responses To “But Don’t You Get Jealous?”

  1. To me people ho don’t experience jealousy when their partners are in love with others just haven’t be in love

  2. I struggle with this question a lot because my answer is actually “No.” It’s hard to answer without seeming like I’m bragging. Jealousy is just not something I experience. Someone was asking me about this, and my partner gave me a really good answer to give.

    “By and large, I don’t experience jealousy. Jealousy is usually just a sign of something else going wrong or some other need unmet. My partners and I have a very healthy amount of communication so we tend to address issues directly before they can fester long enough to manifest as jealousy.”

    I have experienced negative emotions w/r/t my partners being with other people, but those are generally my own insecurities and I immediately identify them as such, because I am by nature an introspective person. Being poly requires communication and honesty with yourself, too.

    I just feel like an asshole saying that. haha.

    • That totally makes sense. I also agree that jealousy is usually a sign of deeper things going wrong, and that introspection and communication often help in dealing with it and getting it to not be as much of a problem.

      I also agree that it is really important to be careful how you talk about not experiencing jealousy in order to not come off as an asshole. I think there is a decent analogy I’m thinking of jealousy as sort of like a phobia. In the same sense that I think it would be fucked up to imply to someone who has a phobia of water that beating that phobia is as simple as jumping in and learning to swim because that’s what you had to do to stop being afraid of swimming, I think it’s inappropriate to imply that people who do experience jealousy could beat it by simply being more introspective and communicative.

      I think introspection and communication are useful tools, and I think most people who know me would say that I am introspective almost to a point of absurdity, but I do still experience jealousy. I think it is totally okay to say that you think communication in introspection help you to not feel jealousy, but there is a sometimes-tricky line between saying that and implying that people who do feel jealousy aren’t as good at communication, introspection, or poly in general as you are.

      Some people, for whatever personal, historical, or brain chemistry reasons, have more trouble defeating jealousy than other people, and it isn’t necessarily because they don’t do communication or introspection. It seems like there are a fair number of poly people who think that they have less trouble with jealousy because they are superior at poly, or less selfish people, or some such, or at least who don’t take the time to make sure they don’t come across that way. It’s that kind of thing that gets my hackles up about this stuff sometimes.

      I’m not saying that you yourself were trying to say any of those things, just writing out roughly what my perspective is on why it’s a tricky subject.

  3. Or, you could say, “No, I don’t get jealous because I don’t have insecurity in my relationship with my partner and actually enjoy seeing the happiness he gets from other lovers.”

    • I could, but that would be a lie, because this is a list of answers that are true for me, personally, and I do get jealous and experience insecurity sometimes. And I think the implication that people who don’t experience jealousy are somehow “better” is a pervasive and fucked up one that presents both problems and barriers to entry in the poly community that don’t need to be there. If the answer you wrote is true for you, then that is great, and that can be your answer to the question, but it isn’t mine, and part of the reason I wanted to write this post is to illustrate that experiencing jealousy doesn’t mean that someone can’t be poly or is “bad at” poly or doesn’t care about their partners’ happiness.

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