Well, as someone who's been poly for several years and still gets jealous once in a while, I will say that she probably feels a lot like she's been locked out of her home while someone else parties in it. She doesn't know exactly what they're doing, and if she did, it's stuff that she probably wouldn't want to happen in her home, and what's more, she's not allowed in. And she might never be allowed back in. OK, sure, that last bit isn't all that likely, but it's not impossible, either. What if the person who's using her home and having a great time decides they want to stay? (i.e., what if the OSO acts as a cowboy/cowgirl?) And even if they don't, what if they decide to do a little redecorating every time they come there? (What if being with OSO changes my partner in ways I don't like?) And what if they eat all the food that's in the fridge so there's nothing left when she can get back into the house? (Like, what if Partner's OSO takes up all Partner's energy for sex and romance so that when Partner comes home, s/he just wants to collapse and not give ME any of that energy?) What if they break a window, which could let burglars in so that it's no longer safe? (What if the OSO exposes the partner to an STD?)
Now, think about how you'd feel if this home stuff happened to you. Would it be any different if you didn't own the place, but still lived there and worked to make it feel like YOUR HOME? Probably not. So it's not necessarily sheer possessive attitude that causes jealousy. It's fear of something you really care about, something that's a big part of your life, something you put a lot of effort into, no longer being the same thing it was, no longer being available to you whenever you need it, and no longer being dependable and safe.
For someone new to polyamory, these emotions can make them feel like they're no longer in control of their life, like it's all at the whim of the person with whom they're involved. It's like being in a boat and not knowing how to sail. You just have to hope the wind blows you where it's safe. Maybe rather than trying to understand jealousy, you should try to understand that feeling of fear and helplessness. That's probably what she's feeling right now.
That was a wonderful explanation. Thanks for posting it.
Thanks. :) I sometimes get all wrapped up in analogies that make perfect sense to me but not to anyone else, and then when I go look at them later, I think, "WHAT was I thinking?"
Anyway, what I forgot to add was that the only things that can really fix this stuff are time, continued dependability and support of the poly partner, and the slow and gentle expansion of the comfort zone of the person who's new to this.
Wonders how long until livejournal has a simple "like" button, as facebook does these days. Nicely said!
Oh my god, that was brilliant! Seriously, that was probably the best explanation of jealousy I've ever heard.
This really helps. The point I wasn't getting is that there's a "way the world is supposed to be" that's comforting and reassuring, and when I step outside those bounds, it's frightening. Suddenly, everything is uncertain, and boom! Insecurity and fear of loss.
Whereas for me, my SO having OSOs is familiar and comfortable and "safe", and I get anxious in the opposite situation: about being "enough" for my SO when they don't have someone else. There are things I'm bad at, and I'm more relaxed knowing I don't have to struggle to provide them; my SO can get that from someone else.
You've saved me a lot of trouble by explaining not just the superficial perception, but the causes behind them.
This also makes me think how the lack of other poly people in her life, of examples and illustrations of how this can work, contributes to the problem.
Because it keep things feeling strange and uncertain. It's freaking hard to make up new social customs this important all by yourself!
I'm glad I could be of some help. :)
Agree with others - great explanation. =)
Upon reading this whole post, I realised I didn't really know what jealousy was either, but I feel like your description clarifies it a lot.
Thanks! Glad it helped you. Me, I am always completely baffled by the people who say, "I NEVER get jealous!" I have heard a few people say this, and I think that sometimes, it makes people who are new to polyamory feel like if they DO get jealous once in a while, they aren't "really" poly. But I've come to see my occasional (and increasingly rare) jealous episodes as being warning signs that something needs to be fixed in my relationship. And then I can figure out what it is and work on fixing it, thus soothing and getting rid of the jealousy.
**Applauds this beautiful analogy**
Do you mind if I
steal repeat this with attribution?
Please, go ahead! I'm a little stunned by how well this went over. :)
Totally fantastic post, and very helpful. Thank you :)
I really like this explanation. I'm monogamous with a poly partner and everything you said rings true. I shall link my partner to this post and your comment.
i'm a random and monogamous only, but this describes how i feel sometimes when i'm away from a significant other. i thought it was neat.