Treatise for Not Being Jealous

I had a conversation recently with a friend, who is venturing into non-monogamy. It’s not an effortless transition for him, and the events, explorations and discoveries for him have reminded me why non-monogamy is almost my religion – yes, religion.

In all ways but one, non-monogamy is not about sex for me. It is about a journey of self-discovery that cannot happen with only one person with whom I am sexual and intimate. Because everyone I know evokes different qualities from me, qualities I don’t even know I have. Every emotional challenge requires me to either be the person I know I am, or in some cases, slip into all my worst fears about myself, or on occasion, be the person I never wanted to be, either by choice or necessity. Non- monogamy may seem like an external exploration, but it is equally, if not more, an internal one – and it’s in my interior experiences of myself that I find faith, strength, revelation, redemption, transformation and peace.

One of the things that makes non-monogamy effortless for me is that I am not jealous, and in fact had never been jealous until this friend was in my life. I am utterly grateful that I experienced jealousy through him – profound jealousy – the kind of jealousy that felt like dying. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe sometimes for days – days on end.

My strength of Will was tested to my core, and there were days, nights, hours, minutes, fractions of seconds when a wave or lightening flash of jealousy would hit me, and I didn’t think I would make it through the cataclysms. But I did. I am grateful because I never understood jealousy before. Without feeling it, it might seem that I was saved one of the most horrible human emotions, but I don’t want to be saved from experience. I want to be saved by experience.

I never want anyone to be with me out of obligation, commitment, etc…and I don’t want to be with anyone for those reasons. 

During a deep conversation, my friend asked me why I am not normally jealous. He was so moved by my responses, he wrote them down, and used them for himself, and it made me wonder if I should share them, so here they are.

My 5 Reasons for not being jealous

1.  I am unique. But even if I weren’t, the experiences we have with others aren’t about us or them, it’s about the dynamic between me and you – and that dynamic cannot happen with anyone else. I’m never worried that my lovers are going to have the same experience with someone else that they have with me – and I never have the same experiences with Mr. L that I have with Mr. M. And there is at least beauty and sometimes ecstasy in the differences between those dynamics.

2.  I’m good in bed…with the people I’m good in bed with. I’m bad in bed with people I’m bad in bed with. With the people who enjoy me and who I enjoy, the journey is never ending (seriously there are some journeys that are more than 20 years old at this point). With the people who don’t enjoy me or who I don’t enjoy, the journey ends. I don’t have a problem with not going on a journey that doesn’t work or that doesn’t give me something, and I hope those people who didn’t get to come along with me found their own path.

3.  I am a short, curvy, nerdy girl. I can’t be a tall, leggy, blonde and I don’t want to try to be a tall, leggy, blonde. I don’t want to be an athlete. I don’t want to be pretty. I don’t want to be what I’m not. It takes all of me to be who I am. I tried, when I was a teenager, to be something I wasn’t, and it was soul destroying, and it didn’t make me anymore tall or leggy or blonde. I love celebrating the gifts of others. I love finding the gifts they didn’t know they have. When my ex-husband, was attracted to a beautiful, blonde, Southern California, beach bunny, I was thrilled for him…and thrilled for me. I would never have to fulfill that dynamic for him. I can’t be all women, I can’t be like other women, and I cannot fulfill all the sexual, emotional or intimate needs of anyone – and I want the people I know to be completely fulfilled. Life is far too hard not reach for all the fulfillment we can get our hands on…I just don’t want to be solely responsible for anyone else’s fulfillment.

4.  I never want anyone to be with me out of obligation, commitment, etc…and I don’t want to be with anyone for those reasons. I want to choose to be with someone, and I want them to choose to be with me. I want to be absolutely confident that the person who is looking at me wants to – and I know that they are because they could be anywhere else, with anyone else, doing anything else if they wanted to be, and I would help them get there. I would rather be generous in that way than see the disappointment and frustration in someone’s eyes because I’m keeping them from where they truly want to be. I’ve seen that look of disappointment, it’s soul destroying. Conversely, when I tried to be monogamous, I honoured a commitment to a man I loved, and it made me hate him for keeping me from something that I knew didn’t threaten him.

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5.  Sometimes I am way too busy. Sometimes I’m directing plays, and teaching workshops, and writing and working and sometimes I just don’t have time. I do not believe that my lovers, or when I was married, my then husband should be left wanting because I have an independent life. Equally, sometimes my lovers are busy or live halfway around the world, and harsh as it is, I’m not going to abstain from pleasure because they’re busy. Everybody gets to live a full life. When my open marriage of 10 years ended, I realised that one of the reasons I wasn’t bitter about the end was that I never had to sacrifice an experience for the sake of the marriage, much as I would have sacrificed a lot for the sake of my husband.

It feels like ‘sex is not love,’ should be part of that list, but my friend only asked about jealousy. He also asked if I knew why I experienced jealousy through him, and I do know. He never gave me a chance to answer so I am answering here:

I never felt unique with him. In fact, it wasn’t until the conversation a few days ago that he realised and saw part of who I really am. His assumptions of who I am were wrong, and it was one of the things I hated about our relationship. In part, it was a defense mechanism. In part, it was a projection of his limitations. Ironically, his limiting assumptions had the backlash effect of causing me to scream at him because I wanted him to see the real me. Screaming never works, and I should have kept my mouth shut. It reduced and diminished me. The jealousy that I encountered was excruciating and lasted for months on end, and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy much less a lover. Even in the face of rejection from this man, I am not jealous of the women he desires, now that he’s really seen me.

It’s because of this exceptional case, that my rules have been proved to work for me. I cannot say that they will work for anyone else, but they do work for me.

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