You are viewing tacit

Previous Entry | Next Entry

blueprint_heart
This entry started out as a reply to a comment elsewhere in my journal in this thread, and expanded until it touched on some of the things I was saying in this entry in the polyamory community, and grew too big to be posted as a comment anyway, so I'll probably just end up putting this whole thing in my journal and in polyamory .





One of the central fixtures in most polyamorous relationships, especially polyamorous relationships between an existing couple who begin with a monogamous relationship and then expand the relationship to include polyamory, is a set of rules or covenants designed to protect the existing relationship and to make the people in the relationship feel secure--in other words, to deal with issues like jealousy, insecurity, and threat. I'm going to borrow peristaltor 's metaphor of the refrigerator and bend it to my own ends.

Let's assume your relationship is a refrigerator. One day, a problem arises in your relationship--the refrigerator quits working. You walk into your kitchen, there's a puddle on the floor, and all your frozen pizzas and ice cream are a gooey mass in the bottom of the freezer. There are a few things you can do at this point, once you've mopped up the mess and scraped the remains of last night's lunch out of the fridge. One solution is to fix the refrigerator; another is to replace it. A third solution is to leave the refrigerator exactly where it is and change your life around the problem--"From this day forward, I will bring no frozen or refrigerated foods into this house." In the poly community, the last option is the one most people choose.




I'll get back to the fridge in a bit, though, because first, I think it's important to address something that peristaltor said, which is that sometimes, fears have a purpose. I'm going to spend a good deal of the rest of this entry talking about fear and threat, and it's important to keep in mind that not all fear is irrational. Fear of snakes? Positive and healthy. fear of spiders, or falling, or drowning? Positive and healthy. A lot of our distant ancestors had to die to bequeath us with these instinctual fears, and they've served us well. There's a difference between a rational fear and an irrational fear, a difference between a fear that genuinely keeps you safe and a fear that makes you contort your life (and the lives of the people around you) for no good reason. The latter kind of fear seeks only to protect itself, not to protect you--and ironically, sometimes it creates the very thing you're afraid of!




In a relationship, a fear or an insecurity is a symptom of a problem. In some cases, the fear is perfectly rational and justified. An abused child lives in fear of his abusive parent for good reason; he has tangible reason to fear. In a healthy relationship, though, these fears are almost always irrational and unfounded.

Jealousy itself is an interesting emotion, because jealousy is a composite emotion, that is based on other emotions. It's a second-order emotional response--something happens, that thing causes you to feel threatened or to feel insecure or to feel something negative about yourself, and then that fear or insecurity makes you feel jealous. For that reason, the root of jealousy is often surprisingly difficult to pin down and understand.

Instead, what happens is that people look at the event which is the proximal cause of the jealousy and assume that that event is the source of the problem. "My partner kisses another person, I feel jealous; therefore, it's the kiss that makes me jealous. The way to deal with the jealousy is to address his habit of kissing people."




Back about thirteen or fourteen years ago, I was dating a woman I'd met at college, R. During the course of our relationship, R started dating another close friend of mine, T. And for the first time in my life, for the first time in my history (at the time) of a half-dozen successful long-term poly relationships, I was jealous.

I don't mean "You know, this makes me uncomfortable" jealous. I mean "completely overwhelmed, smashed to pieces beneath a tidal wave of feelings I could not anticipate or predict or control, gut-wrenching, wanting-to-puke" jealous. I mean the kind of jealous that consumes every other feeling and leaves nothing but ashes behind. I'd never felt those things before, and when I was in the middle of those feelings the only thing--the ONLY thing--I could think about was making the feelings stop, however I could. Because it happened when she was with T, and didn't happen at other times, I made the logical, reasonable, and totally stupid assumption that the cause of the feelings was her relationship with T. From there, I reached the equally stupid conclusion that the thing which would make the jealousy go away was if she changed something about her behavior or her relationship with T. (I also didn't really recognize the jealousy for what it was, powerful as it was, because I'd never felt it before, which only reinforced the notion that it was "caused by" her relationship with him.)

I behaved pretty reprehensibly, playing passive-aggressive games and just generally acting like...well, like a lot of people dealing with their first crisis in a poly relationship act. predictably, it destroyed my relationship with her. She went on to marry T and cut me out of her life completely; the very thing I was afraid of came to pass because of my jealousy. Had I not behaved the way I did, we'd probably still be close, almost fifteen years later.




In hindsight, now that I have a lot more experience and a bit more emotional wisdom under my belt, I can see where I went wrong. When a person feels jealous, and attributes the jealousy to the things which trigger the jealousy, he doesn't actually understand the jealousy. It's a bit like a person who has never seen a rabbit except when it's being pursued by a dog believing that the dog is the cause of the rabbit. In reality, jealousy is built of other emotions; jealousy is not "caused" in any direct sense by the action which triggers it, but rather by a different emotional response to the act which triggers it.

In my case, R and I had never really discussed her relationship with T; nor had we talked about, in any capacity at all, what her intentions with T were or what effect, if any, that would have on her intentions with and her relationship with me. Put most simply, I saw her and T together, I had no idea what that meant for her and I, so I became afraid of being replaced. The fear of being replaced, in turn, led to the jealousy.

Now, had I actually taken the time to examine the jealousy and really try to understand it, I probably would've figured that out. And, once I understood that the jealousy was caused by a fear of being replaced...well, a fear of being replaced is a fear that you can work with. A fear of being replaced, all things considered, is really not that difficult to address. All it requires is conversation about intentions, perhaps a bit of reassurance, and time enough to demonstrate that the conversations and reassurance are genuine, and hey, there you go.




Getting back to the refrigerator:

Fixing the refrigerator means doing exactly that. It means saying "I know that I am feeling jealous. I know that the jealousy is brought about by some other emotion--some emotion which is triggered by the action that makes me jealous. I need to figure out what that other emotion is, and I need to figure out why that action triggers that emotion."

Until you do that, you are helpless in the face of the jealousy. If you don't understand it, there is nothing you can do to address it. Trying to understand it isn't easy; when you're ass-deep in alligators, it's easy to forget that the initial goal was to drain the swamp, and when you're entirely overwhelmed by gut-wrenching emotions that are tearing you to pieces, it's easy to forget that these emotions are grounded in some other emotions. In the middle of jealousy, all you want is for the jealousy to stop, and you don't care how.

So, you confuse the trigger with the cause. You believe, erroneously, that the source of the jealousy is the action that triggers it. You see your partner kiss someone, you feel jealous, you want the jealousy to stop, you pass a rule: "No more kissing."

This is the equivalent of saying "No more frozen food in the house." The problem is still there. The root has not been touched. The broken refrigerator is still sitting in the corner, dripping water. You haven't actually dealt with the underlying causes at all; you haven't addressed the insecurity or fear of loss or fear of being replaced; you've just "solved" the problem by shielding yourself from situations that might make you address it. You've "solved" the broken refrigerator by passing a rule against bringing refrigerated food into the house.

And then you do the same thing to anyone else who comes in to your relationship. You tell anyone coming into the house, "Look, here's how it is. You can come over, you can have dinner with us, you can spend time here. but under no circumstances are you to bring any frozen food into these premises." And if anyone asks 'why'--well, secondary partners don't get to ask 'why,' do they? Those are the rules, take 'em or leave 'em. We Just Don't Talk About the giant, leaky, broken refrigerator in the corner. We don't talk about it and we don't allow anything that might make us confront the fact that the damn fridge is busted. No frozen foods. No kissing, no saying "I love you," no doing anything that might make us actually have to deal with the fucking refrigerator.

Take it or leave it.




Not to pick on leotheseadragon , but I've spent a lot of time over the last several days thinking about what he said here in the polyamory community, and my response. My response to the situation he talks about now is a lot different than my response would have been thirteen years ago.

The situation leotheseadragon is an excellent example to use when talking about jealousy, because it happens so often. I've seen similar situations no fewer than a dozen times in the past three years; it's a microcosm of the kinds of emotional responses people can have to a situation, and the kinds of rules and covenants they put into place to deal with those responses.

Abstracting from his exact situation a bit, the general idea is this: A person has an existing, primary relationship. He, or they, then begin sexual or romantic relationships with others. One of the people in the primary relationship has a jealousy response, such as "I don't care when you are with a partner of the same sex, but when you are with a partner of the opposite sex I feel insecure."

This happens amazingly often. (Sometimes it works the other way: "I don't mind if you have partners of the same sex, because I know what they can offer you and I know I can compete with them, but I get insecure when you have partners of the opposite sex because they can provide an experience I can't." Whatever. The emotional process is pretty much the same.)

Now, put yourself in that position: you are jealous when your partner has some sort of relationship with some other person under some particular circumstance, such as when your partner has sex with someone of the same sex as you. What do you do?

Well, you can take the "I'm not the boss of my partner, so I will let my partner do his thing; my healousy is my issue to deal with, and I souldn't feel it, so I won't" approach. That usually involves squashing or suppressing the jealousy, which in turn usually means sitting in a dark room crying and feeling like you're going to throw up when your partner is out having fun, sometimes combined with moodiness and passive-aggressiveness when your partner returns..y'know, just to spice things up.

Of course, you're going to feel like crap. Getting back to the refrigerator, this is like continuing to put food into the fridge even though you know it's broken. Result: wilted lettuce and sour milk. Bon appetit!

Or, you can say "I get jealous if my partner does X or Y with a person of Z sex, so we'll make a rule in our relationship: no X or Y with someone of Z sex." There you go, you don't feel jealous any more. Of course, the underlying cause is still there--you haven't fixed it. What will likely happen then is that six monthsdown the road, you'll find that action W triggers the same jealousy. Okay, no biggie--we'll outlaw W too. But wait, action Q and S trigger jealousy too--who knew? Hey, we can handle this; we'll pass rules against Q and S. Oh, and against T, too, because T is, y'know, kinda like S. And we'll pass rules against--you know what, this other partner of yours is just making me feel jealous in general. Veto!!!

And then you end up with problems in your own relationship, because, y'know, unintended consequences and all that. One of the unintended consequences of vetoing a person your partner loves is that you hurt your partner; one of the predictable consequences of doing things which hurt your partner is you damage your relationship.

Or, there's a third solution. You can break up with your partner, because you feel jealous when your partner does X with a person of sex Y, and your partner wants to do X with people of sex Y, and you don't like controlling your partner and you don't like feeling jealous, so this isn't the relationship for you.

Hey, at least it's an honest response. You've thrown the refrigerator away, and replaced it with a new one.

And that's about where your options end, right?




Wrong.

There's another option. You can fix the fucking refrigerator.

Rathewr than retype it, I'll simply repost here what I said in the thread to leotheseadragon :

"Were I in your partner's shoes, the conversation would go a bit differently:

"I am uncomfortable with this, and for some reason the idea of you playing alone with a person of the same sex is OK with me but the idea of you playing alone with the person of the opposite sex is not OK with me.

I do not understand these feelings yet, but they seem like they are rooted in some kind of fear (such as the fear that I cannot compete with someone of the same sex as me), or possibly some jealousy. I need to work on this, because I recognize that it is irrational and unjustified. Therefore, it is OK with me if you play with someone of either sex, but I will want to talk to you about it afterward, and analyze my feelings and reactions, and try to understand them so that I can address whatever is causing these reactions. After you are done, I will need some time with you so that we can work together at identifying what is causing this irrational emotional response on my part."


That's what I mean when I say "fix the refrigerator."

The nice thing about doing this is that you can, if you have isolated the emotional response beneath the jealousy and identified positive ways to deal with it directly, end up in a position where you don't feel jealous any more. Even when your partner does the things that used to trigger the jealousy. You just don't feel jealous any more. You do not need to pass rules banning certain behavior and you do not need to veto someone, because you don't feel jealous any more.

The downside, though, is that your irrational fear will fight to protect itself; it won't go down easy. The thought process goes like this:

"If my partner does these things with someone of the same sex as me, then I might lose my partner, because someone else might give him the same things I give him. If I lose my fear of losing my partner, I will no longer have a reason to ask my partner not to do these things. If I don't have a reason to ask my partner not to do these things, then my partner will do them, because I know he wants to do them. If my partner does these things, I will lose my partner, because then someone else will give him the same things I give him. So I better not get over my fear, because if I get over my fear, then i won't have a reason to ask him not to do these things, and that means he'll do these things, and that means...I'll lose him!"


And 'round and 'round it goes. You don't want to lose the fear, because you're afraid something bad will happen, and you can't give up the fear of something bad happening because if you do...you're afraid something bad will happen.

Fixing the refrigerator requires a leap of faith. It requires believing, even if your fear is telling you otherwise, that your partner is with you because your partner wants to be with you. If you start with the assumption that your partner wants to be with you, then anything becomes possible--including defeating your jealousy without passing rules.

But you got to start there. You got to take it on faith, even when your fear is telling you otherwise--and believe me, it will.




There's more to say on the subject, but this message is too long anyway, and I have a meeting with a client.

Tags:

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
dilletante
Aug. 25th, 2005 06:33 pm (UTC)
the refrigerator seems like a rather odd metaphor to me, since the whole point of having a refrigerator is to store frozen foods. whereas in general, the point of my relationship with person a is not to ease the way for their relationship with person b.

but if i had a broken refrigerator, i might call a moratorium on frozen foods until it was fixed, you know? otherwise the kitchen would get awfully stinky. and nobody would be very sympathetic with me for being stupid enough to store frozen things in a refrigerator i knew was broken.

unlike a refrigerator, mind you, i sometimes find that the mere act of setting rules in a relationship and following them can go a ways towards solving jealousy issues-- a practical demonstration that the people involved do value each other's feelings, you know?-- until after a while the rules are no longer needed. but that can't be the only method of refrigerator repair. do you have some to suggest?
sharq
Aug. 25th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC)
Heh, I think perhaps you are being a bit too literal here.

As an outsider, I made perfect sense of that, without letting the metaphor get in the way ;)
dilletante
Aug. 25th, 2005 07:06 pm (UTC)
i think i was being exactly as literal as i meant to be. ;)
sharq
Aug. 25th, 2005 07:22 pm (UTC)
I think I just totally have been had.

In the immortal words of someone far wiser than me: do'h
dilletante
Aug. 25th, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC)
i didn't mean to sandbag anyone. i just think that the refrigerator analogy lends an inappropriate emotional weight to one outcome of the discussion. but that, despite that, even in light of that analogy, setting rules may still make sense sometimes.
plymouth
May. 27th, 2013 06:28 pm (UTC)
i just think that the refrigerator analogy lends an inappropriate emotional weight to one outcome of the discussion.

It does seem to suggest that folks who have chosen to have monogamous relationships are all living with broken refrigerators. Or that we like our refrigerators broken? I expect that wasn't really the intention here and may fall under "stretching the analogy". But it certainly gave me pause reading this, speaking as someone currently on the mono side of attempting to navigate a mono-poly relationship.
tacit
Aug. 25th, 2005 09:15 pm (UTC)
"the refrigerator seems like a rather odd metaphor to me, since the whole point of having a refrigerator is to store frozen foods. whereas in general, the point of my relationship with person a is not to ease the way for their relationship with person b."

No, but the point of any relationship involving more than two people should be to meet the needs of all the people involved. Often, it's the person who's coming in to an established relationship whose needs end up being disregarded.

"but if i had a broken refrigerator, i might call a moratorium on frozen foods until it was fixed, you know?"

Indeed, and that's part of the "more to say" I was referring to. I had actually intended to spend some time talking about that, and ran out of time.

Istill plan a followup post, but the short version is: It's one thing to say "no more frozen food 'til the refrigerator is fixed" and then get on with the job of fixing the fridge; quite another to say "no more frozen food 'til the refrigerator is fixed" and then the hours turn into days, the days into weeks, and still nobody's made a move toward fixing the fridge.

People will often pass rules against behaviors which make them uncomfortable. Fixing the fridge means exposing yourself to those behaviors, which means being uncomfortable. You gotta get on your hands and knees with a flashlight in your mouth, crawl behind the fridge, scrape all the sludge off the coils--it's a messy, uncomfortable business. A person unwilling to accept that fixing the root of his jealousy will involve emotional discomfort is never going to fix the fridge, no matter how much he says "Well, just don't do that until I'm comfortable with it, m'kay?"

As for whether the rules alleviate the jealousy--I think they can alleviate the feelings, at least temporarily, by removing the trigger that leads to the uncomfortable emotions--but just as often as not, they can also reinforce the jealousy, by establishing a pattern whereby whenever someone feels something uncomfortable, a rule is passed to protect him from that discomfort. As time goes by, these rules can make it increasingly difficult to address the discomfort directly.

I prefer to fix the refrigerator by letting my partner do whatever it is that is causing the jealousy (actually, language is a tricky thing here--when I say "letting" her do this, it sounds like I'm giving her permission, which isn't actually the case; she doesn't need my permission to do things, though I do as a matter of course expect her to consider my feelings in what she does), and...oh, hell, let me start over.

I prefer to fix the refrigerator not by telling my partner she can't do something that triggers a negative reaction in me, but rather by analyzing and processing and picking apart that negative feeling until I really understand it, all the way down to my bones. If possible, I like to involve her other partner in the processing as well. I've found that once I've grabbed the negative response by the tail and dragged it, kicking and screaming, out into the light where we can all see it, it tends to look a lot smaller and less scary than it does while it's still buried in the closet.

Now, this assumes the fear or insecurity is irrational, of course. Some fears are perfectly rational, and make a reasonable basis for creating rules. A trivial and very obvious example: STD fears are totally rational (in fact, you'd have to be a madman or a fool to disregard the possibility of STDs when you have multiple sexual partners), and STD concerns make a pretty damn good reason for passing rules concerning people's behavior.

Also, if my partner had said or done something to give me a clear and specific reason to support my fear or insecurity--say, by lying to me or by betraying a confidence, or by acting thoughtlessly or with reckless disregard to my feelings, then it seems reasonable to want to establish a basis of trust again--and one way to do that might be to impose some kind of consensual limits on whatever activity led up to that betrayal or whatever. So in that sense, I can see the value of the kind of temporary moratorium you're talking about.

And if this gets any longer, it'll BE that followup post, so I'll just end this right here for now. :)
dilletante
Aug. 25th, 2005 10:07 pm (UTC)
No, but the point of any relationship involving more than two people should be to meet the needs of all the people involved. Often, it's the person who's coming in to an established relationship whose needs end up being disregarded.

that sounds very noble, but how do you arrange to meet those needs, and should each partner consider them with equal weight?

even in the days when my romantic imagination encompassed only the idea of meeting a single soulmate and cleaving unto her, forsaking all others 'till death parts us, i'm afraid that if pressed, i put a great deal more weight on my own needs than those of my paramour, at least on a first date. over time the equation changes, but i think most people ultimately put their own needs first-- else no-one would ever break up with anyone else. and i actually think this is healthy. you've expressed similar views elsewhere, yourself. :)

extending this further-- well, as i said, over time the equation changes. slowly. which means my partner of seven years is going to get a lot more consideration than my partner of seven days; and again i think this is reasonable.
sharq
Aug. 25th, 2005 06:55 pm (UTC)
I've had polyamorous friends in the past - well, they said they were, but ultimately they were mostly just emotionally insecure idiots who decided that they wanted to shag as many people as possible, but that's beside the point.

shit, good job, de-railing completely in my very first sentence.

Let's try and get this back on track: I'm pleased to read this, because for once someone seems to make sense of it, and gives the impression of having made a weighted, carefully considered decision to enter into a polyamorous relationship, allowing for the hardships that might bring.

I can't even figure out how to make a one-on-one relationship work, but reading stuff like this is going to be of great help, next time I decide to give it a shot.

Thanks for sharing, well spoken, and good luck.

- Haje
datan0de
Aug. 25th, 2005 08:56 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the long quote
Or, you can say "I get jealous if my partner does X or Y with a person of Z sex, so we'll make a rule in our relationship: no X or Y with someone of Z sex." There you go, you don't feel jealous any more. Of course, the underlying cause is still there--you haven't fixed it. What will likely happen then is that six months down the road, you'll find that action W triggers the same jealousy. Okay, no biggie--we'll outlaw W too. But wait, action Q and S trigger jealousy too--who knew? Hey, we can handle this; we'll pass rules against Q and S. Oh, and against T, too, because T is, y'know, kinda like S. And we'll pass rules against--you know what, this other partner of yours is just making me feel jealous in general. Veto!!!

Um, what?

I know that a very similar situation happened with you, but I think that to imply that this is the way that it always goes, or even that it's the way that it usually goes, is incorrect.

I am in exactly the situation you describe here, and have been for the last 2 1/2 years. It's the first poly relationship I've been in that paired femetal with another man. Quite frankly the situation hits my insecurities dead center, and yet the progression has moved in the opposite direction. We started out with a basic set of rules (okay, not so basic) regarding physical interaction that was quite restrictive. (There were rules set out regarding all of the possible interactions within the Smoosh, but the rules between femetal and zensidhe were by far the most restrictive.) As the relationship has progressed and we've all became more comfortable with each other, we've revisited them and re-tested our boundaries. The general trend is that the boundaries have loosened up.

At the beginning of the relationship this happened quite a bit, and our limits now are far broader than I ever would've initially suspected they could become. Nowadays the boundaries are still in flux, but have largely settled into a configuration that everyone is (I hope) happy and comfortable with. Yes, the root insecurities are still there, and yes for the most part we've addressed the symptoms rather than the cause, but there's no sign of the spiraling, ever-tightening boundaries of which you speak. It simply isn't happening. In our case we don't view the underlying cause as a problem that needs to be fixed, and I think that our situation is the norm rather than the exception.
tacit
Aug. 25th, 2005 09:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Sorry for the long quote
"At the beginning of the relationship this happened quite a bit, and our limits now are far broader than I ever would've initially suspected they could become. Nowadays the boundaries are still in flux, but have largely settled into a configuration that everyone is (I hope) happy and comfortable with. Yes, the root insecurities are still there, and yes for the most part we've addressed the symptoms rather than the cause, but there's no sign of the spiraling, ever-tightening boundaries of which you speak."

I don't intend to convey the idea that this is what ALWAYS happens, but rather what CAN happen. One potential risk involved in addressing the behaviors without addressing the insecurities is that a person may find an increasing number of behaviors which trigger the insecurities, and once the precedent has been established that the way to deal with an insecurity is to pass a rule, then it becomes easier and easier to pass more and more rules to deal with insecurities as they crop up.

This isn't inevitable, of course, but it can and does happen.

Going to your own relationship, though, what advantage do you see in creating boundaries to restrict behaviors that trigger insecurity rather than attempting to go after the source of the insecurity itself?
femetal
Aug. 25th, 2005 10:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Sorry for the long quote
I'll pipe up on this one. ;)

When dealing with something wholly new, something which noone involved ever envisioned as being a possibility, and something which, as datan0de said "hits my insecurities dead center," it is useful to take things in small bites. Baby steps. (Yep, just like in What About Bob?)

Having boundaries which are spelled out for everyone to see keeps us all on the same page. If E tells me that he's not comfortable with X action, but we don't share that, specifically, with M&J, then my reaction when M or J attempts to do X with me can be confusing, might hurt their feelings, and might not succeed in preventing the behavior at all. (Hypothetically, if M smacks my ass, and I then tell him that it's not allowed, we've already crossed the line, and the "paperwork" on that isn't something I like to deal with on a regular basis.)

Sometimes, my boundaries within my individual relationships are my own personal limits. Sometimes they are out of consideration for someone else in the relationship. I like for everyone involved to know *why* I'm not okay with X, so that if the opportunity arises where it won't be a triggering activity for one of us, we will all know if it's "open season," or if it's still off-limits.

By taking these baby steps, we *are*, in fact, attempting to go after the source of the insecurity itself. We are just doing it gradually. [I can easily drink a gallon of milk over the course of a week, one glass at a time, but I certainly couldn't do it safely in one sitting.] E's boundaries *do* push his limits. But it will likely take a long time for him to reach a point where he doesn't need any boundaries to feel secure. (Honestly, I don't know if we will ever reach that point, but I don't see it as an obstacle to our relationship, it's just a factor we all take into account. That's the way he and I work, and we're happy with it.)

On a personal note, I know that I start out with a lot of boundaries when we are entering a new relationship (or when there is no "official relationship"), until I am comfortable with the trust which has been built through the adherance to them. When I see that I can trust the new partner to give consideration to the effects their actions will have upon me, the boundaries slip away rather quickly.
tendentious1
Aug. 25th, 2005 11:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your insight...It's amazingly helpful. For my part, I've recently begun a relationship with someone who's poly, but not currently in a long term relationship (and I am convinced he isn't *just* out to shag as many women as he can). The whole concept was new to me until I met him, and I've been struggling with 'ole green eyes a bit. I chose to continue in the relationship, tho it made me a bit uncomfortable at first. I've been trying to get a grasp on how to address some of these issues, cuz it's become obvious to me that I can't 'just stop feeling this way' and he isn't going to become monogamous just cuz. And if I don't address it, the relationship is not going to succeed. So, from someone at the barest beginning of theis journey, the refrigerator analogy works. Even more, I think I now know how to broach an important subject that I've been putting off for a while.

So, Thanks!
peristaltor
Aug. 26th, 2005 03:22 am (UTC)
Yes, I would have to say I have indeed gone and done it
Thanks for the insightful post.

You claim it is "too long"; but this is a subject most fear or just have not thought thoroughly through at all, and therefore descriptively truncate to the detriment of all, using assumed shorthand terms which bear multiple meanings to multiple groups and result in multiple fuckups. Your writing style is concise and to the point, and, once again, has served your considered opinions well.

I have much to offer, but must muse, ruminate, daydream. . . .

Thanks again.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 26th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC)
There's no refrigerator here...honest
That usually involves squashing or suppressing the jealousy, which in turn usually means sitting in a dark room crying and feeling like you're going to throw up when your partner is out having fun, sometimes combined with moodiness and passive-aggressiveness when your partner returns..y'know, just to spice things up.

*shiver* How icky to recognise myself in a post from a stranger. But thank you for verbalising the issue and forcing me to think about what I can do about it.
zotmeister
Aug. 26th, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC)
One of the people in the primary relationship has a jealousy response, such as "I don't care when you are with a partner of the same sex, but when you are with a partner of the opposite sex I feel insecure."

This happens
amazingly often. (Sometimes it works the other way: "I don't mind if you have partners of the same sex, because I know what they can offer you and I know I can compete with them, but I get insecure when you have partners of the opposite sex because they can provide an experience I can't." Whatever. The emotional process is pretty much the same.)

[raises hand] Teacher, I don't see the difference... - ZM, perhaps too pedantic for his own good
merovingian
Aug. 26th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC)
The moral to be learned here:

DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH REFRIGERATORS.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 26th, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC)
Do Not Have Sex With Refrigerators
Well, now you couldn't very well do that anyway, could you? Because they're frigid.

Sorry.

Great post. I think I understand about the baby steps, and in fact I believe that concept brings up the idea that many of the rules that we don't state could be there implicitly. We tend not to hand over our bank account number to someone we met two days ago, no matter how archetypally hot they are, whereas our partner of 10 years has access to our account. It's a rule, of sorts. You may not state it explicitly (or maybe some people do!), but it's a rule that's being followed, nevertheless.

Just my $.02. ;-) - Loki
femetal
Aug. 26th, 2005 11:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Do Not Have Sex With Refrigerators
To be clear, I'm not saying that everyone has to use rules to keep things straight. Nor am I saying that some things aren't implicit.

However, in dealing with a partner who communicates VERY literally, explicit rules are a good way to be sure we are on the same page. With a different partner, who can "read" me well and accurately, and whom I can "read" just as well and accurately, rules may not be necessary.

What is interesting is, because I have one partner who works entirely in the realm of the literal and who doesn't catch nuances or subtleties, I tend to use those tools with my other partners as well, even when it might not be strictly necessary. Of course, I also will allow more leeway when I know my partner truly understands my nuances on a given topic.

So, the bottom line here is, rules which forbid certain acts which make one uncomfortable aren't evil in-and-of themselves. They are a tool which can be used well or poorly, and I think tacit is just saying that he's seen them misused more often than he's seen them function well and as intended. YMMV. Mine does.
peristaltor
Aug. 27th, 2005 05:40 am (UTC)
'Fridges need love, too
Dude, that's cold.
felisdemens
Aug. 27th, 2005 05:08 am (UTC)
A fabulous and timely post. This is an issue I've been wrangling with myself of late... sudden, crippling jealousy. The Ethical Slut actually has some useful information about breaking down the various components of jealousy and dealing with them individually.

Of course it's all very clear and cogent when you're not down there in the La Brea Jealousy Pits battling the alligators. :)

Still, thanks for the post.
tacit
Aug. 29th, 2005 04:05 pm (UTC)
"Of course it's all very clear and cogent when you're not down there in the La Brea Jealousy Pits battling the alligators."

Yep, no doubt about it. Emotions create their own reality sometimes...
nicolle
Aug. 28th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC)
I thought this whole post was fucking brilliant, and not just for the polyamory/jealousy aspects... what I hear you saying is that whether we like it or not we are the originator, source, babysitter, the ultimate responsible ones for our own emotions. And pinning blame or responsibility for how we feel on the circumstances or situation outside of us (and attempting to fix how we feel thusly) is almost always a dead-end road. If I'm correct in that's what you're saying, I couldn't agree more, and I applaud you for having said so.
cunningminx
Aug. 30th, 2005 11:36 pm (UTC)
Tacit--

I hope you don't mind that I read the first few paragraphs of this article on Polyamory Weekly this week. Listeners often ask about jealousy, and you deal with this so extensively that I wanted to turn them on to your writing. Of course, I'm providing the link to the full article here so folks can read the full article, which I could hardly do justict to on the air.

Thank you for taking the time to write these thoughts out so eloquently.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 16th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC)
Thank you
I want to thank you for your writing. It is helping me save my marriage.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner