Steve Pavlina and Jealousy

I really admire such a public figure in the personal development world as Steve Pavlina coming-out and saying that he and his wife, Erin, are going to try an open relationship – specifically one within the realm of polyamory.  They haven’t done it yet, but they are looking and researching and moving forward slowly.

I was reading his post regarding jealousy last night.  In it he says that during the 15 or so years of his marriage he and Erin have never felt jealousy, and he asks:

“Can anyone teach us how to become jealous of each other? What are the steps? What do you have to think, say, or do in order to whip yourself into a jealous frenzy?”

He goes on to say:

“The reason we can’t create jealousy is that we can’t escape unconditional love. We can’t run or hide from it. Love is a constant in our lives. The only way for us to become jealous would be to turn our backs on unconditional love or to pretend it doesn’t exist, and that seems like a pretty lame idea.”

My first reaction is to say “Ummm… Yah.  Just wait.”  But I won’t.  Okay, I did.  Regardless, opening-up your relationship brings feelings and insecurities floating to the surface that you had no idea you harbored.

Steve.  Erin.  Guaranteed one of you, if not both of you, will experience jealousy when one of you actually does take a lover.  It doesn’t matter how much you unconditionally love each other.  Having your partner receive happiness, joy, sexual satisfaction and companionship (things that up to this point only you’ve provided) will expose insecurities you didn’t even know you had.

When Lucretia MacEvil and I first opened-up our relationship I didn’t think I would have any problem with it.  I am a very secure person 99% of the time.  However, after our first experience swinging I felt jealousy.  I rationalized it with all sorts of excuses like “My ex-wife cheated on me and that is making me feel this way now” and others.  Now, I didn’t have any problem with Lucretia having good sex with someone else.  What I had issues with was her developing a relationship in any form with this other couple (particularily the male) outside of the foursome swinging scenario.

It was stupid that I felt that way because I knew that Lucretia loved me unconditionally and she wasn’t going to leave me, but that feeling was still there.  I couldn’t rationalize it away.  What it came down to was me, myself.  Whether I was unconditionally loved or not made no difference.  I didn’t believe in the deepest recesses of my soul that I was everything my rational self thought I was.  This new step in our relationship exposed these feelings and brought them up from the depths of where I had repressed them for 30-plus years.

How’d I get past it?  I didn’t like myself that way.  It wasn’t how I saw myself or who I wanted to be.  So I worked on me and my insecurities to get past these feelings.

Does that mean I am completely over it?  No.  Trying new things as a couple exposes new feelings and issues and insecurities I didn’t know I had.  Call them “triggers” if you will.  And the same goes for Lucretia.  Although she wants me to be happy and enjoy as much of other people as I can, sometimes certain situations or people arise that set-off her triggers.

What makes the difference between a couple who makes it in any kind of open relationship and one that doesn’t is the people in the relationship and how they communicate with each other and how brutally honest they are with themselves.  So many blame their insecurities and feelings of jealousy on their partner, the idea of “If they didn’t do this or that I’d be okay.”  But it’s almost never your partner’s fault unless they are truly stepping over boundaries set-out in your relationship.  Such as cheating.  The real issue lies within yourself, your insecurities and your attempts to control your partner so they won’t do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.  The couples that thrive in an open relationship environment are those that recognize that as long as both people are playing within the boundaries of the playing field, the real issue is not what your partner is doing but your reaction to it.  And that is what needs to be worked-on.

That doesn’t mean that the boundaries are hard-set though, and not movable.  Open relationships are nothing if not fluid; they are changing all the time.  What makes them work is the ability of the people in the relationship to recognize this, be flexible, owning their feelings, communicating their feelings without attacking their partner, and be willing to redraw the white lines on the playing field should they need to be adjusted.

Remember, if something doesn’t benefit the relationship, it hurts it.  Always make every situation turn into a benefit.

~ Lucius Scribbens

  • “How’d I get past it? I didn’t like myself that way. It wasn’t how I saw myself or who I wanted to be. So I worked on me and my insecurities to get past these feelings.”

    Care to fill a sister in?? 🙂 I know this feeling exactly. I’m so secure in every aspect of my life, including my relationship, but I still get irrationally jealous. I don’t like that aspect of myself either, and am having a hell of a time working on it.

    Where did you begin?

  • oops, forgot to check the “email follow up” box. Doing that now. .

  • I began by researching jealousy, discovering what it is, where it comes from and why it exists in human nature. From there I was brutally honest with myself and stopped blaming others for me feeling jealous. What had happened in the past was in the past. Lucretia MacEvil is a different person than my ex-wife. Our situation was not the same. My ex-wife’s actions should not affect my responses today.

    It was this painful process of putting blame where blame was due (with myself) that allowed me to “fix” what is wrong with me, at least to the extent that I could at the time, it’s always a work in progress.

    It was realizing that it’s not her actions, but my reaction to her actions that were the problem. I had to address my reasons for feeling that way.

    It also took some time, and more experiences with our open relationship status and eventually it went from a feeling of fear of abandonment by her to a feeling of compersion that she was having a good time with someone else. I became happy that she was happy. Instead of looking at it like her being with others was a threat to me, I looked at it as a gift to her; her freedom to be who she is, without judgment or expectations. This came-in especially handy as she developed an interest in BDSM which I had long forgotten interested me 20 years ago and she started to explore with others.

    This shift in attitude made all the difference. The shift in this play being a threat to it being a gift. Instead of making me anxious, it made me happy. And Lucretia’s thankfulness makes it all the better.

  • There’s that word again, compersion. I still have a hard time being OK sharing my partner; I can’t imagine being to a point where it makes me happy.

    But logically, emotionally, fundamentally, that’s what I want for us, both the openness and the compersion toward it. It’s just, like you said, my reaction to it that I struggle with. Pretty quickly after I react, I realize how silly it was, and spend that energy apologizing where it never had to be there to begin with.

    For me, jealousy isn’t about not getting my needs met. My needs are completely met, and then some. It’s not about this huge insecurity; I’m a very confident person, in and out of my relationship.

    I really have no explanation for it. Thank you for your thoughtful response, I will try to look at it as a gift to my partner, and see if that helps. 🙂
    xo

  • It’s funny how we have trouble affording our partners the same capabilities emotionally as we feel ourselves. For example, we know that we can go fuck someone else and it in no way diminishes the love we feel for our partner or how we enjoy sex with them. Yet, it’s hard for us to wrap our brains around the idea that they feel the same way.

    Remember that jealousy is simply insecurity. It’s the fear that you are not “enough” for your partner, or “good enough” or someone else will be “better”. Jealousy is an emotion we use to protect ourselves under the guise of “protecting” our partner from those we see as threatening to us.

    A big help to myself was truly convincing myself that my wife is with me because she wants to be. I’ve held the door open for her to leave and she hasn’t. Even when stuff between us is bad (as all relationships have issues sometimes). She always returns.

    It also came with coming to terms that this is about variety, and different people will offer her things I can’t, whether it is intellectually, hobbies, sexually or otherwise. It’s recognizing that others are in addition to me, not a replacement for me.

    Thanks for the dialog here on our blog.