Slouching Toward Compersion

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Jealousy has been a part of our journey into a polyamorous lifestyle from the beginning. The evolution of it is most clearly described through Ark, who has been getting what I can only explain as the “raw end of the deal.” He has not yet grasped compersion, so even now while things are getting easier for him to accept, he still has times where he gets jealous and grumpy.

First, let me explain something about my relationship with my husband. It has always felt like we were made to be with each other. I never like to say that someone completes me; that gives the impression that I am an incomplete person, which is not true. I am very happy with who I am. Instead, I say he compliments me perfectly. The yang to my yin. The sun to my moon. The sky to my earth. When one of us is feeling off-balance, the other can sense it immediately.

I have never even suspected my husband of cheating on me. He is so open and honest and loyal, and he so clearly loves me to a ridiculous degree. Though I knew I had the tendency to fall for other people, when I did, I often kept it to myself or it would fall through some other way. I wanted to keep it monogamous even though it went against my natural instincts. Our love is simple, perfect. We take joy in the little things we share, relish every moment we have together. We snuggle every night in bed and have code-words for love. Though we have been together for several years, we are still in puppy love, but a more comfortable, reliable form of it.

I am not immune to jealousy. There was a time during our relationship when we shared a computer. I am not the snooping type and I also trust my husband, so I am always still logged into various websites, like e-mail or a social networking site, when he gets on to use the computer. He would usually log off, but sometimes he forgot and would still be logged into his e-mail when I got back on. Since e-mail came onto our homepage, it was the first thing I saw when I opened the browser. He had e-mails from websites like Adult Friend Finder and other sex/escort type sites in his inbox.

At first, I doubted. Everyone, including myself, gets junk mail. So I decided to be smart and see, first, if he had actually been to these websites. Some basic digging revealed he had been to them and had usernames on some of them. My brain went into panic mode and my heart ached. I was his girlfriend, living with him, and he never told me I was beautiful or made me feel sexy, yet he was going online and looking for a hook-up?

Ark was at work, and I had to go to work as well. I knew I was freaking out and likely overreacting, so I simmered and tried to work it out in my head. My heart wouldn't let me leave it and I texted Ark. Without telling him what was wrong, he already knew what he'd done.

When we were at home together that evening, we sat down to talk about it. I confronted him about the websites and I explained to him why I didn't appreciate it (we'd never talked about an open relationship, so weren't in one), and that I felt like he didn't appreciate what he had if he couldn't make me feel sexy or beautiful, but he was going online and flirting with these other women.

I was jealous because I was not getting certain attention and affection that I felt was due to me; instead I saw it going to strangers. I keenly remember the way this jealousy felt. It was consuming, heart-breaking. I was at once angry, hurt and confused.

Now, I have asked Ark why he feels jealous. What is he jealous about? What does he feel like he is missing out on? His response: Time. Also, that he was raised monogamous and still has that mindset. That he is my husband and I shouldn't want or need anyone else, and if I do, it is by some failure or inadequacy on his part. I have told him this latter part is ridiculous but that I understand he has to work through the monogamy barrier in order to embrace this lifestyle. Though I tell Ark that I love him, that he's the Best Hubby Evah, that I heart him like omg, he still sometimes feels like I fell in love with someone else because there was something he wasn't fulfilling for me.

“My love is not a pie,” I told him once. “Just because I love her does not make me love you any less. My love is indefinite–I love you completely and with my whole heart. I love her completely and with my whole heart. This isn't about filling some void. This is about love and being happy and making other people happy.”

At the very beginning though, Ark was not very jealous. When he saw Kitten and I together, kissing or doing other things (once she put my finger in her mouth and sucked on it in front of him–his expression was PRICELESS), he was not bothered–in fact, he was turned on in many instances. He started to form a bond with Kitten, having coffee at her apartment from time to time. We spent many afternoons and evenings together, the three of us, sometimes out shopping or just sitting on the couch (with me in the middle!) watching a movie.

But then, inexplicably, he drifted away from her. I noticed he would leave the room if Kitten and I got too cuddly, and when I would talk about her to him his face would go carefully blank. Other times, his mood was far more palpable–he would be downright rude to she and I. He stopped visiting her for coffee. Stopped texting her throughout the day.

Back to the drawing board, I sat him down and we talked about it (yes, we do talk a lot… it's important!). He was aware that his reactions were childish and that he had no real reason for feeling how he did (insanely jealous), and he wanted to stop them, but he had no idea how to go about it. I told him that he was perfectly normal for feeling jealousy, that in fact he was allowed to feel it… but I also said that he had no reason to feel jealous. He gets oodles of love and attention on the constant. Our sex life has gotten *better* through all of this (and it was great prior anyway). So the root of his jealousy?

I mentioned that he says Time is an issue for him. Most of the time I spend with Kitten is during the hours when he isn't home and I would otherwise be at home, bored to tears (probably be forced to clean something to break the monotony–O! the horror!). Since I work in the mornings/early afternoon, and he works closing shifts, this normally pans out pretty well. But on the rare week when Ark has opening shifts every day, I don't want to shunt off seeing Kitten the entire week. So I plan ahead of time one or two evenings to spend with her. This is the Time that Ark is envious of: time that would normally be his, but isn't because I want to see Kitten.

How did we solve that issue? Easy, peasy. Ark is amazing at making friends (I, however, am not) and since he has a couple, he now hangs with them anytime I'm not home. This way, he isn't at home freaking out about my absence. The difference is amazing. When we come back together as a couple at the end of the night, we always have interesting experiences to share, and he isn't grouchy about me being away when he's off work.

But another issue is Territory. Ark is loyal to the bone. He is my guard dog. And the very idea of anyone playing in his territory riles him up in a Cujo kinda way. We are working on this issue still. He says that when he sees Kitten hugging me, he gets very jealous and territorial. I told him that when he feels that way, that he should come over and hug and kiss me too. This hasn't happened yet, but it's a work in progress. At least he is not irritable around her anymore, and engages in conversation about her again. I cooked dinner for the three of us last week, and we all sat in the living room and watched a movie. It was just like old times… except I sat in the chair, and let them have the couch.

Kitten says she feels no jealousy–that she, in fact, is not a jealous person. She is happy to have what I can give her. She loves Ark (though as a friend) and thinks he's awesome ('cause, well, he is). As long as we all stay positive and keep the communication open (that's right, I said it again), we will get this jealousy beast slain. Or at least evolve it into compersion.

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mad culinary scientist. curious voyeur. aimless wanderer. geek, nerd, procrastinator. panromantic polyamorous pagan. bdsm switch. refuses to adhere to any of your silly preconceptions.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    "I told him that he was perfectly normal for feeling jealousy, that in fact he was allowed to feel it… but I also said that he had no reason to feel jealous."

    While I did enjoy a lot of the rest of this, I found that this section bothered me with the mixed signals it gives. Validating someone's jealousy and then telling them there's no reason to be so simply takes away that validation, in my opinion.

    Maybe I'm reading it wrong, and it is after all just my opinion. But it's just my two cents ^_^

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      I don’t think I said it to him in those words, but the idea I was getting across to him was that I loved him and I wasn’t going to leave him… not for Kitten, nor for anyone else. He didn’t understand why he was feeling jealous, so I didn’t understand it, either. I felt that he had every right to be jealous, but I wanted to reassure him that he didn’t need to feel that way and that he was stable in our relationship.

  2. Avatar

    Communication does seem to be the key to all non-monogamous relationships and compersion is an amazing thing. It is thrilling to get the warm fuzzies from seeing those you love happy and enjoying their life, living it to the fullest and making every moment count in a way that many people still don’t understand. Jealousy is a terrible emotion leading to other even worse emotions such as fear and anxiety, anger, mistrust – creating situations in the mind of things that might happen or might go wrong and stealing the joy away from the goodness of the right now. 

    It’s awesome that you can recognize in him when something is off balance and call it to the communication table to hash it out. Sometimes introspection is a bitch. It takes a brave soul to really look inside themselves and see what is there, then to pull it out and examine it and bravely explore the possibilities of the desires and passions found within. It seems it is a much easier path to say one man and one woman till death do us part but for those not built for monogamy, this path has it’s own pitfalls. 

    Variety is the spice of life and whatever form(s) your non-monogamy takes, embrace it, love it, enjoy it. There is no do over and when you look back over your life, don’t you want to be able to say you truly lived that life?

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