We talk a lot about jealousy in the polyamory scene -- how to manage it, how to de-program it, how to communicate with your partners about it. But in this episode, we are going to be deconstructing jealousy -- categorizing specific triggers and their causes. If you have the tools to identify your jealousy triggers, it can open up a lot more happiness and freedom in your relationships.
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JASE On this episode of the Multiamory Podcast, we are talking about deconstructing jealousy. Taking a look at the main factors that can trigger jealousy and the best ways to handle them.
EMILY It’s like we never left.
DEDEKER -I was going to say, so it may seem to our regular listeners like, “Jealousy, that’s an easy topic, haven’t you handled that before?” And like I just want to ask you to have some compassion for us because we’ve not sat in the same room without a live audience and podcasted in like over a month now.
EMILY Yeah, that’s a long damn time.
DEDEKER And, it feels really weird. It feels really odd.
JASE Yeah, it’s -- it’s funny being back in the studio.
DEDEKER Now, do I -- I am -- I like should I pull a diva act, like unless there is an audience I can’t do this?
JASE [LAUGHS] Right.
EMILY No, that’s bullshit.
DEDEKER Get the cats in here, get somebody in here.
EMILY Oh my God, I need like that emotional support and that laughter.
DEDEKER Exactly, exactly. I need the energy.
EMILY I need that laughter.
DEDEKER Maybe, no, that’s true. Maybe it’s I got so used to getting that energy from the audience, Now that I have to produce it I’m like, “What?”
DEDEKER “What is this?”
EMILY It’s ok, we have to get it from within guys.
EMILY This is an important task that we need to have happen.
JASE What if, ok but what if we started recording the podcast with a laugh track?
DEDEKER Oh gosh. I-
EMILY No, we’re not going to do that. Have we sunk so low? We are now like comedy hour.
DEDEKER I know, we’re like daytime sit com style?
EMILY Well, nighttime, but yes.
DEDEKER Nighttime sit com style.
JASE Primetime sitcoms that have the laugh track. Yea.
DEDEKER I suppose so. What if we got a goat track?
EMILY [BLEATS LIKE A GOAT]
DEDEKER Just a bunch of bleating goats.
JASE Just a -- Ok.
DEDEKER Sorry, that same into my head, that doesn’t make any sense, but-
EMILY Oh man.
DEDEKER -but it made me laugh.
JASE Oh boy. I hope we edit that out before the final episode.
DEDEKER So, jealousy.
EMILY So, what is jealousy?
JASE What is jealousy? Alright so something that I did want to clarify before we get into this episode is that there are a lot of people -- like, ok, first of all, jealousy is a topic that gets talked about and asked all the time. That, you know, when you’re first telling people about polyamory, when they first start looking into it, that’s always the number one question, right?
EMILY “But what about jealousy? Don’t you get jealous?”
JASE Right, “How do you handle jealousy?” Like, “Ah, wouldn’t jealousy just make that awful?”
DEDEKER “How do you fight off jel-based life forms?” [PAUSE] Sorry, it’s -- I’m really coming from left field today.
JASE You’re really just -- this is -- this is bad. This is come bad goofs.
EMILY Perfect goofers
DEDEKER [LAUGHS] I’m sorry, I’m a little bit ill, my brain’s a little bit fuzzy. Sorry, keep going. I’ll just sit this one out.
JASE Ok, so it’s a topic that is asked a lot, and one of the ways that people try to tackle it is by making this distinction between envy and jealousy. And, something I wanted to clarify there is that yes, those are two different terms, but I actually find that making this distinction between them can actually be less helpful, because when you actually look at the dictionary definitions of them, there’s some overlap. And basically it’s the distinction between envy and jealousy, that envy means that somebody else has something that you want. And so, it’s this negative envious feeling of “I want to get that thing that they have.”
EMILY And that you’re specifically going to take it from the other person?
JASE Right. That there’s this desire to take this from the other person.
JASE That’s kind-of a secondary part of it. I think envy doesn’t necessarily have to have that second part but it often-
JASE -is implied that I want to take from them.
JASE Whereas, the definition of jealousy has two different definitions. The first one is that same thing of being jealous of something that someone else has and wanting to take it for yourself; but then the second part of the definition is being afraid that someone is going to take something from you.
JASE Which is often when people are talking about jealousy in terms of polyamory or in terms of their relationships, they’re usually using that second definition. And so some people try to make this distinction that jealousy is that, like the fear of losing something, and that envy is wanting something from someone else. And it’s just that the actual definition doesn’t support that distinction. So, for the purposes of this episode, it kind-of covers both of those things.
JASE But anyway, just so you know, we’re not going to be making that distinction between those two terms in this episode.
DEDEKER And just to remind people that this is a very universal human emotion-
DEDEKER -that crops up not just in sexual situations, not just in romantic situations, but we experience envy and jealousy in all arenas of life. We get jealous of coworkers, of friends, of family members, of siblings. You know, we experience jealousy in so many different arenas, and specifically, in the arena of romantic and sexual jealousy, that’s the one that seem to scare people the most.
JASE Right. That we’re all kind-of taught as healthy, mature adults that if you’re jealous of a friend or a coworker because of whatever; they got new job, because they have a sweet new car, you know, because they got married -- whatever it is, as a healthy person you don’t let that destroy your relationship.
JASE [LAUGHS] That it doesn’t drive you insane. You just, yea, as an adult you handle that and you deal with it and maybe let it inspire you to get those things yourself.
EMILY Yeah, it’s a motivating factor potentially.
JASE Yeah, but we kind-of have this understanding that jealousy is manageable in those situations.
EMILY Yeah. While we’re on the subject of it being a universal emotion, what are some person triggers for jealousy for us? Like, for instance for me, I think yeah, the possibility -- sometimes I get jealous of the idea that my partner might have a better sexual experience with someone else, rather than me.
EMILY That’s a real scary thing sometimes-
DEDEKER That’s a really common one as well.
EMILY -a trigger. For sure.
JASE Yeah, the term that I’ve heard for that, too, is FOMO.
JASE Yeah, Fear Of Missing Out
EMILY Ahh yeah, yeah yeah yeah.
JASE F-O-M-O. And it’s kind-of that. It doesn’t quite fit the definitions exactly, but it kind-of falls into this same thing of I’m worried they’re having some great time without me.
JASE That I’m missing out on something.
EMILY Sure, and that I’m -- therefore they’re going to want to be with that person more because they’re giving them a sexual experience that’s not as good a -- or that’s better than what I can give them.
JASE Sure. Sure. Yeah.
DEDEKER I know what’s triggered jealousy for me is that if I feel like another person is quote en quote like encroaching on the things that make up my own identity. So to give an example of that, when one of my partners started dating Emily I got really jealous because -- after I learned that she was also really nerdy and really into video games.
EMILY Legend of Zelda [LAUGHS]
DEDEKER But I was like, “Wait, but that’s my thing.”
EMILY And so things like that that are so silly but for some reason I get triggered if I feel like my uniqueness is kind-of competing against somebody else’s.
JASE Sure. Yeah. I mean, a trigger for me today in terms of the more envy side of jealousy is that Emily was showing off her new Nintendo Switch-
EMILY Fuck yeah.
JASE -with the new Zelda game and I’m very envious of that.
EMILY As you should be.
EMILY As you should be.
JASE Yeah. No, I mean for me it’s that kind-of jealousy trigger has kind-of changed over time. I mean, for me, for a while, it was really focused around money. And I’ve experienced, this seems to really resonate with a lot of men especially.
EMILY Yeah. I want to go into that later.
JASE Yeah, totally. That this idea that, you know, if someone else makes more money than me they are inherently more desirable than me. Or more confident than me. Or just more, kind-of better than me. So, my partner would rather spend their time with that person instead of me.
DEDEKER Yeah but I’ve totally had that myself, even as a woman.
DEDEKER If my partner is dating someone better off than me, then that brings up the same levels of insecurity. Probably a different shade from what men experience because we’re so used to men being socialized to be the bread winners, and the supporters and the providers.
EMILY Even now, which is hilarious.
DEDEKER Yeah, exactly. So for me it’s been less of feeling like that territory is being encroached on and more just that this person is better than me-
DEDEKER -or just more successful than me-
DEDEKER -that it triggers that.
EMILY But I do want us to think about, as we’re going through the different catalyst and triggers for jealousy is it something that’s inherently male or inherently female?
EMILY I know that when we discussed this before, we kind-of found similarities and differences in both genders for the specific things in which we’ll be talking about.
EMILY But I guess I kind-of want to go back through them and say is this more inherently male or more inherently female.
JASE Well, and I would just like to clarify-
JASE -using the word inherently always triggers-
EMILY Well, ok, socially-
EMILY -socially triggered or socially taught or whatever.
EMILY Yeah, exactly.
JASE Because there’s this debate of how inherent-
DEDEKER Is any thing, right?
JASE -are these male and female differences-
EMILY That is always the question.
JASE -or is it all socialization.
JASE I tend to follow on the all socialization side-
EMILY I agree with you.
JASE -than some people. Yeah. So it just kind-of depends. But, regardless, those distinctions between males and females do exist.
JASE Whether or not their inherent or cultural, we do still have them as part of our lives as people living in Western culture.
EMILY Definitely, and I wonder if the lines are blurred more as time goes on and women’s liberation or whatever continues to occur-
DEDEKER Yes. Definitely.
EMILY -if the lines continue to become more blurred.
EMILY I don’t know. So, let’s talk about it.
DEDEKER So yeah, in this episode we’re specifically kind-of breaking down triggers for jealousy-
JASE Mm hm.
DEDEKER -into four broad categories. And in these four categories, there is a lot of overlap, a lot of them are connected to each other. But, I found that in being able to categorize and being able to figure out kind-of what exactly is the dynamic that’s triggering my jealousy-
JASE Mm hm.
DEDEKER -it does kind-of unlock what’s going to be the key to making it feel a little bit better.
DEDEKER So what’s our first one?
EMILY Ok, so the first one is going to be Comparison. And when I look at this, I see it as an inherently female thing. And it -- not necessarily -- inherently -- yeah, socialized it thing-
EMILY -for a female to be like, “Fuck, like that bitch is…”
EMILY And not necessarily, of course men compare as well, but it is challenging sometimes because women will look at other women and say -- and use slut shame or use a bunch of different tactics, I guess, to sort-of put women down.
EMILY So comparison: comparing your own weaknesses or qualities to someone’s best qualities or strengths.
JASE I think that’s sort-of the key there-
JASE -is that...that. You’re not comparing your best qualities to their medium qualities. It’s always like, “Look, they’re good at this thing-
JASE -that I’m insecure about being bad at.”
DEDEKER Yeah, exactly.
JASE So that hurts a lot more, that’s a lot harder to deal with.
DEDEKER Mm hm.
JASE I was actually reading, since we did the write up for this episode actually, was reading about some studies about social media and showing a link between how much time people spend on social media and how much depression they feel.
EMILY Ouch. Shit.
JASE And the sort-of, you know, the possible cause for that is that, that you’re constantly being exposed to everyone’s best self-
DEDEKER Mm hm.
JASE -that they’re putting out there. And so when you’re comparing yourself to that-
EMILY -you’re like “I’m way worse.”
JASE -you’re coming up short.
EMILY Yeah. Yeah.
JASE Exactly. You’re like, “Well, shit, I’m not good enough. I’m not successful enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not doing enough exciting things.”
JASE Whatever it is.
DEDEKER Mm hm.
JASE Interestingly, as a fun side note, Snapchat, however, was shown to increase the happiness of people-
JASE -who used it as opposed to facebook, which makes people more depressed when using it.
EMILY Really? Maybe that’s why Snapchat’s IPO just went up. [LAUGHS]
DEDEKER [LAUGHS] Well, is the idea with Snapchat that you can be less contrived-
JASE I think that’s the idea.
DEDEKER -and less contrived with it. Or at least a little bit less, because it forces you to be in the moment.
EMILY It’s pretty raw in comparison.
EMILY Faceback -- faceback! [LAUGHS]
DEDEKER Faceback! [LAUGHS]
JASE [LAUGHS] Love it.
EMILY Facebook is really shiny and Snapchat tends to be really gritty in comparison.
EMILY Except for when you’re using the filters.
DEDEKER Yeah, but the, but --
JASE But -- yeah.
EMILY The filters make you look silly.
DEDEKER -but even with Snapchat you can still be very selective-
DEDEKER -about when you’re going to show somebody on Snapchat.
DEDEKER You still can kind-of cherry pick and show just the cool things you’re doing..
EMILY People do do that.
JASE Anyway, I don’t know the causes of it, I just thought that’s a fun little thing about the ways we can engage on social media-
DEDEKER Yeah, that’s true.
JASE -and how they can affect us differently.
EMILY Ok, so when you’re in a relationship-
JASE Mm hm.
EMILY -what are some of the ways in which -- the bad ways-
EMILY - that you may try to combat this jealousy that’s coming up within you, from comparison specifically.
DEDEKER Yeah, I mean definitely if you find yourself struggling with comparing yourself with other people, or comparing yourself to partner’s other partners-
JASE Mm hm.
DEDEKER -there can definitely be temptation to try to control who your partner can date.
DEDEKER Obviously the idea being that, you know, as long as my partner doesn’t date someone who’s threatening to me, than there’s no problem.
JASE Or, setting up a situation like a veto where, “Yes, it’s letting me control who they can date.” Or even something, you know, partners will set up a screening process.
DEDEKER Mm hm.
JASE Like if you want to date someone, I have to interview them or at least talk to them first to give you the okay.
EMILY Or even-
JASE Well it’s this idea of like saying or think it, but you won’t have to worry as much about worry about them if you’re given power over them.
EMILY Or like the idea like that’s even potentially a little more subconscious than all that, but having an emotional breakdown before a partner goes on a date.
EMILY Being like, “I need you now” like every single time I go out with someone you were jealous of.
JASE Yeah. Yeah. Someone that you compare yourself too.
DEDEKER What about, what are healthier ways to manage this in a relationship?
JASE Right. I mean, it seems almost too easy to say it, but actually, honestly and clearly communicating.
JASE Right? It’s communicating about what is the reassurance that I need from my partner?
EMILY Mm hm.
JASE And I think that this can also help, if you understand if you’re partner is going through this kind-of comparison based jealousy, to really go out of your way to let them know the things that make them special, that are unique.
DEDEKER Mm hm.
JASE So, can I-
EMILY We talked about that on Valentine’s Day. It’s very important.
JASE Yeah, yeah. But, so, the key is not to be like, “Oh, well this other person, they’re really not that great.” It’s not about them.
DEDEKER Yeah, it’s not about trying to downplay the other person.
JASE Because then seriously, it just seems like, “Oh, you’re hiding it from me because they’re amazing and you’re going to leave me for them.” Right?
JASE And really focusing on what is it, what are those points about your partner.
JASE And I think that that can also be something that you can ask for.
DEDEKER Yeah, and obviously, just to be clear, it can be very scary to actually go to your partner and say-
DEDEKER -“You know what, your other partner seems like he’s really rich.”
EMILY [LAUGHS] “Is he really rich? Because he seems like he really is.”
DEDEKER Well, but you know, maybe he actually is-
DEDEKER -because I actually feel really insecure because your partner is really rich and he can afford to take you out all of the time and I can’t. And I’m really struggling with that. And, that is a huge thing to be able to do and it takes a lot of courage.
DEDEKER But I think that’s probably the fastest way to get reassurance from your partner.
JASE Yeah, definitely.
EMILY And meet your metamor, meet that rich guy. He’s just a guy.
DEDEKER Yeah, that’s the thing. Meeting this person in the flesh can really help to dissuade you from only being able to see their good side-
DEDEKER -or imagining their good side. You actually get to see them as a living, breathing human being.
DEDEKER It doesn’t necessarily mean that when you meet them you’re going to see all these flaws.
JASE Right, let’s be clear on that.
EMILY But you’ll see them as a real human being.
DEDEKER Exactly, but you’ll see them as normal.
JASE Right, right. It’s like-
EMILY Exactly, not this rich, three-headed dragon.
JASE Right, that it helps humanize them a little bit.
JASE I found, for me at least, meeting them in person as opposed to just seeing pictures of them, especially instead of seeing just pictures of them with one of my partners looking happy and impressive on facebook and going to amazing, exotic locations-
JASE -that actually meeting them in person actually makes them, I don’t know, this sounds super “Whoo Whoo” here but, it makes it easier to love them.
JASE In whatever way that is, right? But it makes it easier to go, “Yeah, like cool, I want this person to be happy because they’re actually a person I’ve met in real life. They’re someone like-
EMILY They’re a real boy.
JASE [LAUGHS] - who isn’t just an idea. They’re a real boy.”
DEDEKER Alright, we’ve got to move onto the next one. What’s the next one?
EMILY Alright, this is a male-oriented one, in my opinion.
JASE Yeah, well, so, this one is Competition. And I think that Competition and Comparison can get easily mixed up with each other.
EMILY Yeah, but they’re not quite the same thing.
JASE The idea is that this one is based on the idea that there are a minimum amount of resources out there. Whether that is in the bigger picture of the world, like money or something like that-
DEDEKER Mm hm.
JASE -but more specifically this tends to come up with the amount of time, or the amount of affection that your partner has, or the amount of attention, or something like that.
JASE That it’s based around this idea that I’m jealous of this other person because in order for them to get anything, they’re having to take it from me.
DEDEKER Mm hm.
JASE Because there is a limited amount.
DEDEKER Yeah. We got this interesting email a while back where this woman-
EMILY Oh yeah. Yeah.
DEDEKER - really wanted to be okay with polyamory-
JASE Mm hm.
DEDEKER -but the things was was having a hard time with, she described her partner’s day as like a pie-
EMILY And that’s it, it’s like just this amount of time.
DEDEKER -and one slice of the pie is his Romantic Time, so if he has another partner, I’m getting half of that slice of pie-
DEDEKER -and I want the whole slice of pie. And-
EMILY “I want my pie and to eat it too.”
DEDEKER Exactly. It’s this idea that there’s not enough to go around. And of course, we’re not making the claim that time is infinite, because time is finite.
DEDEKER But this idea like that the love, attention, quality time, there’s not enough to go around. “I have to sacrifice to someone else what should be mine.”
JASE So, what are some bad examples of ways that people think they can handle this that actually does more damage than good?
EMILY So, again, like limiting the amount of time that they can spend with that partner.
DEDEKER Mm hm.
EMILY Which is exactly what we’re talking about.
EMILY Saying like, “Hey, if you’re going out with this person, then I need to be going out with someone as well.” or “We can only see people once a week.” for example.
DEDEKER Yeah, yeah. I need 5 nights a week with you.
DEDEKER And I think people often conflate quality of time with quantity of time, as well.
EMILY Mm hm.
JASE Yes, Yes.
DEDEKER For sure, because I mean, that was our response to that woman is this idea of really examining what is actually the quality of time that you want-
JASE Mm hm.
DEDEKER -rather than what is the quantity of time. Because some people will be fine seeing you once a week if that’s good, quality time.
DEDEKER And some people won’t be. People’s needs for quality time are very different.
JASE Yeah. And what was going on in her email too was tying commitment to time-
JASE -to just spending downtime together. To her that meant commitment.
JASE And I do think for a lot of people, that does seem to be the case, right, because we associate with being in a committed relationship with moving toward living together.
DEDEKER And spending all of your free time together, basically.
JASE All of your free time, that you’re always the others plus one to everything-
JASE -that you’re never not around each other.
JASE If you need a night to yourself it’s like, “Oh shit, something’s wrong.” And I think, you know, a lot of the solutions people try to come up with, like you said, “you can only go out with someone if I have a date the same night.” I know a lot of couples that actually do that.
EMILY Definitely, yeah.
JASE Which will often end up being very difficult for whichever partner is the one made that rule.
JASE They’ll be like, “Oh, I have a date Thursday.” Then the other one’s like, scrambling-
EMILY To try to, like, “Fuck, I’ve gotta do this.”
JASE To find anybody to go out with that night to make that happen.
JASE To eliminate that happening.
JASE So it can actually cause a lot more problems and a lot more hurt along the way.
DEDEKER I think another factor in this competition thing is that a lot of people kind-of try to make sure, like, my sense of security lies in me making sure I’m getting the most.
DEDEKER Or that i’m getting more than anyone else. I don’t mind sharing, I don’t mind my partner having multiple partners, as long as I get the most time, the most attention, the most love.
JASE Mm hm.
DEDEKER Which, again, I mean-
EMILY It’s a very, like, hierarchical-
DEDEKER Well it is but-
EMILY -way of viewing things.
DEDEKER Well, it is, but I think it’s a product of Western Culture, and I think also American Culture as well.
EMILY Ok, why specifically?
DEDEKER Well, we’re living in a very competitive culture.
EMILY Of course.
DEDEKER It’s very much about you have to carve out your space, you’ve got to take what you can get, you know?
DEDEKER And so I think that that’s something that kind-of pushes those of us who grew up in those cultures -
DEDEKER -toward this more sense of competitiveness. “I know I’m ok as long as I’m on top.”
EMILY Yeah, sure.
DEDEKER “I know I’m ok as long as I have secured my access to more than what someone else has.”
EMILY This is something you talk about in your book.
DEDEKER Oh, do I?
EMILY Among all of these things.
DEDEKER There are so many things in that book.
JASE Ok, so now what are some good examples? I know we’ve talked about the bad for a little while here. So, what are some good examples? I feel like one that we hinted at a little bit, is like switching your focus to quality of time over quantity of time.
EMILY Yep. Yes.
JASE I know this was something that when Emily and I lived together, what we found was that it was really easy to be like, “Yeah, all the times we don’t have other plans is together.” Which we would spend watching Breaking Bad or Battlestar Galactica, or whatever we were into at the time.
EMILY But the quality of it wasn’t like, it wasn’t a specific day set aside to go out on a date, or get dressed up, or have an actual thing that we were going out to do and therefore it didn’t feel as special.
DEDEKER So, it’s like even though you’re spending more of your time together, the jealousy --
EMILY Yeah, the quality didn’t feel as much, as high.
JASE And I think that the other part of it is not just quality but intensional time.
JASE What we found is that if the way you structure your life, assuming that you have a partner you live with or some type of primary relationship like that, is that the assumption is that all my default time goes to them, unless I make some other plans. Whether it’s hanging out with my buddies from work, or it’s going out on a date.
JASE But when the time you spend with that existing partner is just your free time, your extra time, then anytime you make plans with someone else, it has to take away from that.
DEDEKER Yeah, it can kind-of having that feeling like, “Oh, you’ve taken away from the time that was technically, like by default, belonged to somebody.”
JASE Right. And now if you imagine the contrast to that being we’ve made plans for ourselves, we’ve also scheduled dates, in addition to the other dates we’ve scheduled with other people.
JASE That’s like, so we know that this one night a week, in addition to our free time, which, sure, we’re going to spend together, but we know we’re going to have like a good chunk of time to really be together and pretty ourselves up a bit, right and like really-
JASE -you know, be there and focus on that quality of the time-
EMILY Yeah, and focus on each other.
JASE -and the intentional-ness.
JASE I think that made a big shift once I started realizing the importance of that.
DEDEKER Having the intention still.
JASE So, right now, while D’s living with me for a few months, we’ve started to be like, “Oh, shit, right, we have to do that now.”
DEDEKER We have to actually set aside time.
JASE Our time, so it’s not just --
DEDEKER -- the filler.
DEDEKER One last thing I want to hit on with this competition thing, and actually, Jase’s next blog post is going to be about this. I think it can be very important to examine, if you’re feeling competitive about something, figuring out what’s actually driving that desire to complete?
JASE Mm hm.
DEDEKER Is it competition for completions sake? Are you feeling competitive over something you don’t actually want?
JASE And by the time this episode comes out that blog post will have already been out.
DEDEKER Great. I have personal example of this. When Jase and I were in Japan, we were staying in separate places. We got together the next day to co-work and he told me about how the night before he’d gone to a club, brought somebody home, had a good time, and then parted ways.
DEDEKER I had this weird, competitive feeling. Not that I was jealous of Jase, but I was competitive like “I want fun, sexy, post-club times, like post-club hookups, like I want to get that too.” Then like, literally, two minutes later I was like, “Wait.”
EMILY “Do I really? “
DEDEKER “Wait. First of all, I hate going out to clubs.” So, for me to imagine myself going out to a club, meeting a random stranger, taking them home at 3 a.m., having some what is probably going to be less than satisfying sex and then parting ways in the morning. I’m like, “No, I don’t actually want that.”
DEDEKER And then as soon as I realized that, I was like, “Oh, I feel great!”
EMILY [LAUGHS] That’s awesome.
DEDEKER It was purely just competition for competition sake.
JASE Yeah, and this is something that in that blog post I talk about realizing a lot of different ways in my life this has come around.
EMILY Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JASE Even just in terms of the amount of sex that someone else has.
DEDEKER D To be far, I was in the middle of trying to finish my book manuscript and my life was all work and no play.
JASE Yeah, totally. But even with the amount of sex, I found myself getting jealous at a partner getting-
EMILY More sex with someone.
JASE -more sex, or they had sex at some point that I didn’t. And then, it took a while, like years, to finally step back and be like, “Wait a minute, I was doing other stuff.”
JASE I was doing other stuff. I was actually preferring the video games I was playing or hanging out with my friends, or whatever it was.
EMILY To the sex you weren’t having.
JASE Right. That it’s this weird thing, especially for guys, you’re socialized that you should be wanting sex all the time.
JASE So if you’re ever not getting it, you’re not doing a good enough job; you must not be happy.
JASE It’s kind-of like stuff we talked about in our solo-poly / single-poly episode. People tell you that if you’re not in a relationship, you must not be happy.
JASE I feel like we tell guys, “If you’re not having sex this often, or as often as possible, you must not be happy.”
EMILY Yeah. You’re not verile.
DEDEKER Or satisfied.
JASE But you know, I don’t always need that. [LAUGHS] And that was a big realization for me, was realizing that.
DEDEKER Well, let’s take a quick break. Gosh, it’s been awhile since we’ve done one of these.
EMILY Yeah, to talk about Patreon.
JASE Yeah, so on our tour on the West Coast, it was amazing getting to meet all our Patrons on the West Coast. We really wish-
DEDEKER Oh it was so good.
EMILY You guys are the best.
JASE -we could go all around the world and all around the country to meet the rest of you as well.
JASE But the people we did get to meet was fantastic. It’s been amazing and I really hope we can do those tours to other places.
EMILY For sure.
JASE If you do want to become a Patron, you can go to patreon.com/multiamory and there you can choose an amount of money to contribute every month to this show to help us keep doing it, to help us continue to expand and continue to do things like live events and live tours. We still have dreams of doing Multi-Con at some point, doing it like a weekend long conference kind of thing. That you support helps us to do those, as well as creating other content, like video content, and potentially other shows or in person events or workshops or all sorts of stuff. It really helps us out a lot. And in exchange for that, we want to offer you access to the cool kids club [LAUGHS].
DEDEKER It -- I cannot stress this enough, it really is a cool kids club.
JASE They are the coolest kids, yes.
DEDEKER For people who pledge to donate five dollars a month, they get access to our private facebook Patron only group. That is seriously where all the most amazing stuff goes down.
JASE The coolest group.
EMILY It’s very awesome.
DEDEKER Not only super-silly pictures of cats, but also excellent discussions, people sharing interesting articles they’ve found about relationships and non-monogamy. People opening up about some of the challenges that they’re facing and getting advice. Kind-of like crowd-sourcing really good relationship advice actually from a variety of viewpoints.
EMILY It’s lovely.
JASE Yeah, it’s amazing when people reach out for help, seeing all the different perspectives coming in and a lot of times it’s like, “this one really resonated for me”. It’s a fantastic community. And also people to just be able to share their successes.
DEDEKER We have a whole thread for just posting pictures of you with your different partners because so many people can’t do that on social media.
JASE Yeah, so having a private group like this is nice.
DEDEKER It’s nice and so much fun. So go to patreon.com/multiamory to join the cool kids club right now.
JASE Yes. Another way that you can be a cool kid is by ordering a copy of D’s book, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Multiamory; Everything you --
DEDEKER Then you can be in the smart girl’s club.
JASE I was going to do the whole title.
DEDEKER Sorry, my title’s too long, it’s just too long.
JASE We would run over time.
EMILY [LAUGHS] We already are.
DEDEKER My book’s been out for a month now, officially.
EMILY My God, that’s amazing. I remember right when it came out. I remember when we got our own copy.
DEDEKER Crazy, so much fun. And that’s been amazing, I’ve had so many people reach out to me, and I got to sign so many books on tour, and talk to so many people about the book. So that’s available on Amazon, if you search for The Smart Girl’s Guide to Multiamory. Or, you can waltz on down to your local Barnes and Noble, pick up a physical copy. Or, you can ask your local bookstore, you mom and pop bookstore and support local businesses.
JASE Ask them to order some copies of it.
EMILY It’s so good.
JASE Yeah, it’s great, I love it. And it’s not just for girls, I should clarify that as well. A lot of guys who listen to this podcast --
DEDEKER Yeah, a lot of guys have been reading it and saying good things.
JASE Yeah, it’s fantastic. I’m not even just saying that. There’s really nothing in it that‘s like, “whatever, I guess I get it but I can’t quite relate.” It’s really note.
EMILY No, it’s really not. Everyone can relate
JASE Everyone can relate, it is pretty universal stuff. And the last thing, this is kind-of a fun thing we haven’t talked about in a while.
EMILY Yeah, Warby Parker.
DEDEKER Come on down the the Warby Parker Ranch, we’ll get you the finest prescription glasses you could possibly want.
EMILY And get a free home trial of prescription eyeglasses.
JASE So any of you who wear eyeglasses, you might know that frames are super-ridiculous-stupid expensive. And if you have watched some videos out there about it, it’s because they’re all owned by one or two companies out there, so they can charge whatever the fuck they want for eyeglasses.
JASE So, what Warby Parker did was say, “Hey, we’re going to make our own frames, they’re going to be cool, they’re going to be vintagy, they’re going to be whatever it is, and we’re going to do it online. They also have a brick and mortar store in L.A.
DEDEKER In Venice, it’s pretty cool.
EMILY They do, I’ve been to it.
JASE But anyway, what they do is that if you go to warbyparkertrial.com/multiamory, then you can get a free in home trial. So basically you go onto the website, you pick out a few frames and they’ll send them to you. You get a week to try them all on, see how you like them, get your friends’ options, post a bunch of selfies, whatever it is. And then, you send them back, and let them know which ones you want and they put your prescription in them and all that. And it’s a fantastic way to get really affordable eyeglasses.
JASE I have lots of friends who are super into Warby Parker so, this is a fun one. Again, that’s warbyparkertrial.com/multiamory to get your free trial and support our show.
DEDEKER Ok, should we get back into it?
EMILY Now, back to the show.
DEDEKER So --
DEDEKER Yeah, fear. Fear kind-of undercuts comparison and competition, and a lot of what triggers jealousy. Because a lot of it boils down to fear.
JASE Mm hm.
DEDEKER Because, you know, these situations; having to stay alone when your partner is out on a date, or seeing your partner get really excited about a new partner, or knowing that your partner is off having some fantastic sex you’re not having.
JASE That FOMO again.
DEDEKER The FOMO, yeah. These speak to our deepest insecurities. They really cut down to these really universal fears; fears of rejection, fears of being alone, fears of being left out, fears of being unloved, fears of being inferior to somebody, or of being perceived as inferior to somebody. You know, fear is a freakin’ powerful thing and it really doesn’t feel good. And we don’t like feeling afraid. And so this can cause any number of knee jerk reactions when a partner does something that triggers our fear.
JASE Yes, this one does, I would say of all of these, tend to trigger the most of those kind-of impulse reactions.
JASE Those outburst of anger or blame or trying to find something else because you don’t want to accept how terrified you are.
DEDEKER Because you don’t want to feel afraid.
JASE Yeah, because you don’t want to admit to yourself that you’re afraid, that you’re so desperate to fix this situation that it does -- I feel like this one, of all of them, tends to have the most of those flash in the pan kind-of moments.
DEDEKER Yeah, I was going to say this is like when people pull the ripcord.
EMILY And say stuff like ultimatums. Like, “Yeah-
DEDEKER It’s him or me.
EMILY -I’m only going to stay with you if you do X or whatever.” And then demands of security, saying, “We’re not allowed to fall in love with anyone and that’s how we’re going to stay safe.”
JASE Yeah, for sure. So let’s get into that. So what are some of these bad ways that people try to deal with fear?
EMILY “Promise me I’ll always be the most important person in your life.”
DEDEKER Some people can demand primary status purely out of fear. Purely because I’m afraid of someone else getting the things you would give to a primary and it can become a panic thing. You know, so people will, because they're so afraid, will panic and be like, “We have to close our relationship.”
EMILY Sure, yeah.
DEDEKER “You have to break up with everyone you’re seeing and I’ll break up with everyone I’m seeing then things will be great.”
DEDEKER And, p.s. It’s not going to be great.
JASE Right. Or like on that episode of Compersion, where he makes her, in front of him, get on speaker phone and break up with the guy that she’s dating.
EMILY Yeah, that was super fucked up, superbad.
JASE It’s so awful to watch, so painful to watch.
JASE But that’s absolutely something that people will do, in that kind of fear reaction.
DEDEKER Ok, so here’s the thing. Everyone gets afraid. Human beings get afraid. That’s -- it’s actually a good thing, it’s what’s helped up to evolve. It’s what help our ancestors to avoid dying in many situations, was being afraid.
DEDEKER So it’s not that we want to become necessarily fearless, at all, or like totally numb our emotions, but how do you tackle this?
EMILY You heal them.
JASE Yeah, so, I want to be a little bit Buddish for a moment here.
DEDEKER You know I love Buddishism.
JASE So, something in Shambhala specifically-
EMILY Ah, The Sacred Path of the Warrior.
JASE -in Shambhala, Sacred Path of the Warrior, fantastic book, highly recommend it, but talks a lot about the idea of fearlessness. And that fearlessness is not a lack of fear; I’m not fearless because I don’t have fear, I’m fearless because I’m willing to accept that fear and not have it control me or destroy me.
JASE Like the waves can crash against me, but I’m a rock who still stays there, who’s not moved by that, who’s not destroyed by fear.
JASE Anyway, I’ve found a lot of comfort in that, maybe it is a masculine thing, that it appeals to a certain strength that I can relate to wanting to have that sort of a trait. Anyway, something I found really helpful for me.
EMILY Maybe in the feminine end it’s nice to have vulnerability. To be able to be vulnerable enough to your partner to be able to say, “Hey, I have these fears. These are what my fears are, so allow me to work through them with you and understand that this is what’s going on in my head when I’m having these fears and why I’m having them.” Kind-of delving back into the base reasons behind them and often that’s kind-of the tapes that we play when we’re children that keep coming up as patterns in our lives.
JASE I think that is actually why that way of thinking about it really resonated with me as a more of a masculine identifying person is because a lot guys feel like being fearlessness means not being afraid of anything.
JASE so the idea of admitting your fears to your partner is -- feels emasculating. Feels like, “Oh, I’m not a man, I’m not manly, I’m weak then.” Whereas this Shambhala way of looking at it, of the true strength comes from having those fears-
EMILY And facing them.
JASE -but still handling them, facing them.
JASE So for me it was a different framework to be able to present those fears to my partner.
EMILY Yeah, that’s great.
JASE And actually talk about them and work through them in a way that doesn’t feel like, “Oh, that means that I’m weak.” It’s something I’ve found that is really powerful for men especially.
DEDEKER I know the thing that I resonated the most with, and I cited this in my book actually, but Dr. Lissa Rankin wrote this book called The Fear Cure.
DEDEKER And I learned about it because I went and saw her speak and it just blew my mind. But, she wrote this entire book about -- and the title’s kind-of deceptive -- because it’s not about curing fear, but using your fear to cure you, essentially.
JASE I see.
DEDEKER This idea that our fears kind-of crack us open and let us actually see what it is we need. So I think in those moments that are so intense, when you’re having those emotional outbursts, or if you really want to deliver an ultimatum to your partner, or if you’re pulling the ripcord, you’re in panic mode, that there is a power in that, but it doesn’t have to be a power that’s used destructively toward your partner.
EMILY Yeah, yeah.
DEDEKER Or destructively toward your relationship, or destructively toward yourself. But rather, used to really illuminate and to really see, “Ok, so what is this deep nerve that it’s touching, and how can I heal that pain?”, essentially.
EMILY Mm hm, absolutely.
DEDEKER And that could be through talking it out with your partner, by going through therapy, it could be any number of personal development or meditation, it could be examining your past and figuring out is there something that I’m hanging onto from my childhood that’s still here.
DEDEKER Or from past relationships, you know. And sometimes, what I’ve found really useful, sometimes being about to recognize baggage from past relationships and just being able to acknowledge it can be enough.
EMILY Yeah, that’s huge.
DEDEKER You don’t even have to worry about, “Well, somehow I have to cure this, somehow I have to get rid of this,” but just being aware of it sometimes feels like seventy-five percent of the way there.
EMILY Yeah, I had a lot of these, for when I first starting dating Jase, that I expected him to do, and I would kind-of brace myself for them, because I had been in some emotionally abusive relationships.
DEDEKER Like expected negative reactions from him, let’s say.
EMILY Exactly, and then when it didn’t happen, I was like, “Holy shit, that’s a trigger that I just expect but good human beings that don’t do that to me-
EMILY -it’s just not going to happen then.” And it was very interesting. That fear was kind-of an unfounded one and just happened because I had had those experiences in the past with other people.
JASE And I think that also having empathy and compassion for your metamours. That’s just something I want to touch on before we move on. I found that that was something for me, with a lot of these different things, this has actually helped me. But where maybe my partner does feel like they’re taking time away from me to spend time with someone else, maybe because of a special occasion, or something is going on in their life, or perhaps I have this fear of them caring about this person more than me or whatever it is. But often when I do, when I’m able to take that step back, and am actually able to look at, “Wait a minute, I understand this other partner is only in town for a little bit of time, or this is the only time they can get off work, or this difficult thing is happening in their life, or whatever it is.” That taking that moment to be like, “Yeah, of course, I would want to take care of that person too,” is kind-of having that opportunity to be like I’m also a part of helping and making things better for my metamor, instead of like well, “It’s something that my partner does that’s separate from me that I just have to suffer for.”
EMILY Being on the same team.
JASE Yeah, being on the same team.
DEDEKER So, let’s take it to our final one.
DEDEKER The final trigger is loss of control and this is very much wrapped up in fear because I think that as human beings we often fear losing control of our situations or losing control of our surroundings.
DEDEKER And often, where people come up against this in a non-monogamous relationship, is having a lot of difficulty accepting that their partner is an independent human being and that they are going to make choices independently.
JASE [LAUGHS] Yep.
DEDEKER That there’s kind-of this fear that the more freedom and independence I give my parenter, the more likely it is that they’re not going to care for me, that they’re going to make choices that hurt me.
EMILY They’re just going to go hog wild, it’s going to be insane.
JASE And it’s really tied up in our narratives about relationships, right?
EMILY That we have to keep people under --
DEDEKER On a short leash.
EMILY Exactly, under lock and key and that they’re not allowed to do anything outside of that relationship or human real feelings.
JASE Or the idea that a good relationship is not two individuals, but one combined being.
DEDEKER It’s a hive mind.
EMILY Which is bullshit.
JASE With terms like, “My other half” or “my better half” or those sorts of things.
DEDEKER Well, we’ve so romanticized that.
EMILY “Two souls becoming one.”
JASE “You complete me” or in the bible, they become one flesh. There’s lots of different ways this is talked about which I actually think is very, very harmful to the way we approach other people.
EMILY Very destructive.
JASE The way that we think that if they have any independence that it’s breaking.
EMILY And very possessive of another human
DEDEKER So, when people kind of feel like they’re losing control, if they feel like their partner -- if they’re afraid that their partner is going to go hog wild, they try to reestablish control in some very unhealthy ways. It can be things like restrictive hierarchy.
EMILY Which I think we’ve been through.
DEDEKER Yeah, as long as I make sure all of your other partners are secondary, we’re ok. It can be things like veto, it can be things like restrictions, it can be things like controlling the information your partner gives you.
EMILY Don’t ask, don’t tell.
DEDEKER It could be either, “Don’t tell me anything” or “You have to tell me everything.”
JASE Right. Every little intimate detail.
DEDEKER This are like the funny little ways that people try to gain a sense of control again when they feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them.
JASE I feel like rules in general, the rules people will make in their relationships will also come from this, this fear of loss of control.
JASE Because I think there is, I want to go back to this assumption of your partner going hog wild, as you so eloquently put it.
EMILY [LAUGHS] Yeah.
JASE But it’s this weird idea we have that if I didn’t have rules, or if there wasn’t some external structure like monogamy, or marriage, or whatever it is in your case. If there wasn’t some external structure controlling my parenter, that they wouldn’t want to be with me.
JASE That’s kind-of this insidious underlying assumption that’s that.
EMILY It’s really odd, totally.
DEDEKER But I totally bought into it for so long.
EMILY Oh God! Didn’t we all?
DEDEKER No, and constantly being afraid that my partner was just settling for me, and that there was really other people he wanted to be with but I just kind-of showed up at the right time, and the right place.
JASE I remember once, in high school, I had a teach who, somehow we got on the subject in class of relationship or something, and she we talking about how there was a guy that she was dating that would tell her things like, “I don’t even see other women” or “I only have eyes for you.”
EMILY Uh huh.
JASE Those sorts of sentiments, right. [LAUGHS] And that she was telling us that she was actually very frustrated about this, being like, “No, I want you to look at them, see them, and then still want to be with me. I don’t want to think you’re only with me because you have blinders on.”
JASE And, I remember at the time that that was a pretty novel concept, I’d never considered that. And actually, the more I’ve thought about it since then, I’m like, fuck yeah, that is a lot of our romantic talk is based around I don’t even see anyone else as opposed to seeing them and I still want to be with you.
DEDEKER Yeah, but that’s interesting though, because that’s actually what I’ve enjoyed about non-monogamous relationships, is that you could be with anybody that you wanted-
EMILY But it’s a choice.
DEDEKER -but you’re still choosing to be with me.
DEDEKER It doesn’t mean you’re choosing to only be with me, but you’re still internationally, actually choosing the time you want to be with me. That you're not here in this relationship because you’re not obligated to, but because you want to.
JASE Not because you made this commitment 10 years ago and now you’re like, “Fuck, I’m suck here.”
EMILY Well, exactly. And just the idea that we give everyone choices, such as polyamory or whatever non-monogamous shape you want to take and monogamy and that everyone can choose which relationship structure they want for their life. That there’s not just one structure automatically and that’s the only thing that’s valid.
EMILY And you’re somehow not valid if you’re doing something else.
JASE So the one last technique that I want to talk about, as a good technique, I know some of it we’ve already gotten into here about approaching “what is this loss of control?” and understanding that your partner is actively choosing to be with you.
JASE Is D’s pay it forward technique.
DEDEKER TM TM TM TM
JASE Trademark payitforward.com. No, I’m sure that’s taken.
EMILY Oh, I’m sure.
JASE The idea with this one, if I can take over and present this one --
DEDEKER Go ahead, go hog wild.
JASE [LAUGHS] That’s what you’re afraid of, is that I’ll go hog wild if I have no rules. [LAUGHS] Is the idea that if you’re feeling jealous or you are feeling insecure that if you, instead of trying to grasp for control with that person you know that you’re feeling like you’re losing it, is if you instead go out of your way to give extra attention or to say something kind or something sweet or something loving to somebody else, or even that person.
JASE You know, whether it’s another partner, it could be a friend, or a family member, that anything, but just focusing on, “I’m going to give good things to someone else without them asking, rather than focusing on what I’m not getting” and how much that can change things. Do you want to talk more about how it’s really --
DEDEKER Yeah, I don’t understand why it works, I don’t understand how it works, I’ve just known that it works. And I think that particularly when you’re in the middle of a jealousy crisis or a fear crisis where it’s that you just feel icky and all you want is to stop feeling this way right now, you know, maybe like when your partners’s out on a date or whatever, and you’re at home going crazy, this technique of doing pay it forward, you know, I’m going to send a text message to my sister just telling her how much I miss her and seeing how her day was. Or, I’m going send a message to another partner, maybe call them up, just see how their day was and tell them how much I love them.
JASE Mm hm.
DEDEKER You know, I’ve seen that to go the fastest to go from “I feel like shit” to “actually, I feel ok” or even “I feel good.”
EMILY Maybe is it just stopping that continuous cycle in your head, like, “I’m jealous, I’m jealous, I’m jealous.”
JASE I do think that’s part of it.
DEDEKER Anything that can get you out of yourself and onto another person, not just onto a think, like not just onto a video game or a book or whatever, not that those are bad distractions, but something that puts you actively into this role of doing something for someone else that is outside of you, I think helps cut that cycle, that negative feedback loop in your mind that is making you crazy.
JASE I think that there’s also part of it that makes you realize that your world is bigger than just this one person or this one situation.
EMILY Yeah, absolutely.
JASE Because I feel like with a lot of these, like with competitive about the amount of time, or comparison, or fear, that a lot of times that we get caught up in, even if we have other partners, this one that’s triggering some jealousy for us.
EMILY Mm hm.
JASE That’s all we can think about is what we’re not getting here, what we’re not getting here. Rather than realizing, “actually, wait, I have a lot of amazing resources. Whether it is friends or family or other partners, whatever it is, there are other people that I get positive feelings from, that I can talk about my feelings with, that I can spend quality time with, that I can get a lot of these same things too.” And I think the pay it forward also, in a way, helps remind you of that.
DEDEKER Can I be Buddish in a way? Can I be Buddish really quick?
DEDEKER This actually reminds me of the last time I was on retreat that a Buddhist nun told me about the Buddha, that the Buddha essentially asks someone, “if I have an egg cup, like a tiny cup, full of water and I pour a spoonful of salt into it, are you going to want to drink it?”
DEDEKER “Like no, it’s going to be super fucking salty.”
DEDEKER A direct quote from the Buddha. [LAUGHS]
DEDEKER “But what if I pour a tablespoon of salt into the river, would you drink water from the river?”
DEDEKER “You probably would.” It’s this idea that if you step that and expand your awareness and expand your compassion, that it doesn’t become so tight and hyperfocused on all of the pain in this tiny little world that is you.
DEDEKER That as you start branching out and connecting to other people and expanding your world, essentially, that, “Yeah, over here maybe it’s a little bit uncomfortable, but in comparison to the rest of what my focus is, it’s actually quite small.”
JASE Yeah. So I think our overall takeaway from this is that if you’re feeling jealousy or envy, whatever you want to call it, know that you’re not failing.
EMILY No. It’s a universal emotion.
JASE Exactly. We all feel it. It’s something we all go through all the time in our lives. And that just because you’re feeling it in an emotional, romantic or sexual way, doesn’t mean that’s some failure or that it’s someone insurmountable. It’s just part of life, it’s just part of being a human being.
EMILY But it’s the way in which you react to it and the way in which you choose to combat it.
DEDEKER And being able to see these triggers. I’m sure there’s many more triggers than just these broad categories-
DEDEKER -but if you’re able to just notice when you feel jealous and just notice that something triggered it, and just to be able to just step back and again, just be out of the thick of that emotion, you can kind-of access some more clear-headedness in order to manage it, communicate it effectively, and deal with it in a much more healthy and constructive way.
JASE Yeah. Awesome.
DEDEKER So, we just recorded an hour long episode.
EMILY Yep, a page and a half of notes.
DEDEKER Clearly we’re still in live show mode.
EMILY A little bit.
JASE Yes, but we love it. I hope this was helpful for you. If you want to check out more of us, please subscribe on itunes, or stitcher, or podcast addict or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also check us out at Multiamory.com. You can also find us on facebook Multiamory, on Twitter, Instagram, Mulitamory podcast. Right, like all over the place. Just type Multiamory into google and you’ll find us. We would love to hear from you, we would love to have you as part of our Patreon community if you want to contribute to helping us continue to do this show. But also just send us an email or tweet at us. We love interacting with you guys out there. You’re the reason why we do this show and why we’ve kept doing it now for over than two and a half years.
JASE So thank you all so much for listening and we’ll see you next week.
DEDEKER See you next week.