In Which Interest Slays Jealousy (and I grow curious about my metamours)

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In Which Interest Slays Jealousy (and I grow curious about my metamours)I have of late, but wherefore I know not, become rather curious about my partners’ other relationships, or at the very least their other interests.

It began in a quiet fashion, a few weeks ago, on Daddy-daughter day, when my Daddy and I were walking through Marylebone, and we found ourselves passing by many pretty, well-turned out women. In the throngs of blonde, I found myself wondering what kind of women my Daddy looks at when we’re out and about. Neither of us are of a particularly shy persuasion, so I asked him, outright; and being the perfect gentleman he is (in public anyway ; mostly) he told me he only had eyes for me. Sweet enough, and I blushed accordingly, but my curiosity couldn’t be banished so easily by his flattery, so I pressed on, and he conceded that at a future date, we would sit and people watch, and he would tell me which of the ladies passing by caught his attention.

At the time of writing, we have yet to do this, but a few days after our jaunt through Marylebone, it occurred to me that I had been curious! That I was still curious! The girl who suffers so feverishly from jealousy that she would rather be ignorant than ever think her partner had so much as looked at someone else, was actually interested. And it wasn’t a jealous moment of “know thy enemy;” nor was it a lascivious, voyeuristic instinct; it was pure, unadulterated interest.

And it didn’t end there. Soon after I found myself actively asking about my partners’ other partners. I wanted details, dynamics. I wanted to understand and situate both my metamours and I as co-writers in our shared partners’ happiness.

This might all seem like small fry, but to me this has come as quite a surprise, and something of a relief. I stepped into non-monogamy believing that I would probably be able to cope with “don’t ask, don’t tell” at the most. Managing to grow from that into a healthier and more open place, I still decidedly did not ask about my metamours, mostly for fear of being upset by the answer. It was a coping mechanism; a survival instinct: don’t ask questions when you don’t want to hear the answers.

But at the same time, this coping mechanism has been something of an albatross. I want to be able to ask, and I want to be okay with the answers. In fact, I want to be happy about the answers. I want to smile earnestly when the men in my life tell me they are happy not only with me, but with someone else as well.

Over the year or so in which I have been writing this column, I have spent a great deal of time delving into how I experience jealousy and when it happens for me. It tends to spring not from possessiveness of people (thank God), but from a possessiveness over activities; particularly activities I am not experiencing. For example, when someone is engaging in age-play at a time when I am not getting many opportunities to release my own inner little, that triggers my jealousy. However, when I have spent a few, happy hours with my Daddy, all other little girls/babygirls feel like sisters. That’s fairly natural.

But back to my main point: being able to ask, and growing accustomed to the good answers (and also learning how much less fun it is to hear the bad answers) is a really wonderful thing for me. I am feeling so deeply appreciative of the people in my life, and knowing that I have the kind of trust where that appreciation leads to genuine curiosity not just about their lives, or their jobs, or their children, etc., but also about their other lovers and partners? About the other people enriching their days? It feels really good. It feels nourishing, not only to my personal growth but to our partnerships.

Admittedly, I may need to practice how I ask, in order that I don’t sound too suspicious or accusatory; and I may also need to practice non-judgemental listening when it comes to answers that are outside my comfort zone… but those things no longer seem unattainable. They are within reach. And perhaps, maybe, just maybe, compersion might be glimmering on the horizon.

And as for that future date with my Daddy? I am looking forward to it: for my own curiosity, and because I love him and want to know how his mind works, and understand more deeply the people that capture his interest; and, of course, because he has captured mine.

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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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