Jealousy and Compersion

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Jealousy and CompersionWell folks, it’s that time again. That’s right – let’s talk about jealousy. And I’m not even going to complain about it! No, let’s do that slightly more productive yet equally annoying thing of celebrating the lack of jealousy in my life at present. [insert Mexican wave here]

But in all seriousness – or as much seriousness as I can ever muster – it occurred to me this week that it has been a good seven months or so since I felt real jealousy. Maybe longer. Of course I get the little pangs from time to time, but actually it’s often to do with specific activities, or career celebrations rather than sexual jealousy; and when it is sexual jealousy, I seem to be getting better at shrugging it off. Where once a whiff of envy from the direction of my lovers and their other lovers would have floored and crushed me, I now find myself sighing, taking a deep breath, and turning back to whatever I was doing before the not-so-catastrophic-bombshell hit. And nine times out of ten, I’ve forgotten about it in an hour or so.

Like I said, this has actually been going on for a while now, this breathe-and-diffuse coping mechanism, and it has not been completely unnoticed. But I kept brushing it aside: I believe I unconsciously told myself that, yes, it may be easy now – but it’ll be harder when I’m in a ‘real’ relationship. When I have a primary partner and he goes out with someone else, maybe stays out with someone else – THEN it’ll be real and the jealousy will come flooding back. True enough, that is a situation that is likely to cause me a little distress and discomfort at first…

Then again – I have three partners, all of whom I adore, and all of whom have partners other than me. And that’s pretty real. Three people to spend time with, to fuck, to talk to, to laugh with… what about this picture isn’t ‘real’ enough for me? Who says I’ll ever be in a mono-representing, primary-couple relationship? It may look a little different from the picture I dreamed when I was ten, but my set-up, my relationships, are just about as real as it gets. So if I’m really measuring jealousy by reality, I’d say I’m doing all right!

The only other thing that niggles at me every now and then is the realisation that in all my relationships, I am the new shiny thing. Or at least the newest, shiniest thing. It’s nice to be the new thrill, the fresh meat: and it does concern me a little when I consider how I’d feel if any of my partners met someone else. I’d no longer be the new, shiny thing – and that might be tricky for me to cope with. But I’d like to hope I would settle happily into the role of established partner and lover, and maintain my strong place in those relationships. But either way, this is really a thought for the future; for the when.

Meanwhile I am also working on compersion – aren’t we all? – and rather than shutting down and refusing to discuss my partners’ sex lives without me, I’ve tried to at least respond with happiness for them. I’ve tried to grin and celebrate and be glad for their gladness. Sometimes it’s a little forced, I admit; but I think it’s getting better. I’m not sure I’ll ever be enough of a voyeur to really enjoy the sex between other people, but I can at least work on being pleased it’s happening.

And that’s just about where I stand this week.

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Harper Eliot is a writer and podcaster whose work mainly centers around eroticism and social observation. You can find an archive of work, and links to all her other projects, on her website Harper Eliot. Harper lives in London, but rarely sees her own house, spending most of her time on public transport, listening to podcasts and tweeting too much. Her vices include cigarettes, lubricant, Earl Grey tea, opera, nail polish, and pinwheels.

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