Woman looking jealously at man with another woman

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Woman looking jealously at man with another woman, holding champagne

How to deal with jealousy: Tips from an open relationship weirdo

opinion

From the wives of Duck Dynasty to Jane Fonda on the sofa in The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet, everyone’s got an opinion on how to make a relationship work and last. Laughs seem to be the thing everyone points to (“laffs” in American) so find a funny one to begin with and you’re probably good to go. But what about relationships that aren’t your regular kind? Resident Lifetime weirdo Monica Heisey’s got some tips of her own:

Woman looking jealously at man with another woman, holding champagne

My boyfriend and I sometimes sleep with other people. I know, right? WEIRD. It did feel weird, at first, and by weird I mostly mean jealous. It felt JEALOUS. Hoo boy, did it ever. It sometimes still does. But as we got to know how to manage our feelings and each other’s feelings and other people’s feelings, it quickly became easier and we developed tips (“Tell someone you love them a lot so they know that’s true even if you’re in someone else’s bed.”) and tricks (texting, guys. Just send a text message.) to help us along the way. If you ask me, and by reading this you implicitly are, these tips apply not only to our opensies set-up, but to regular ol’ monogamous relationships as well.

Be honest with each other

Communication is the key to a healthy, functioning relationship. It’s important that you respect and trust each other enough to be honest. Think about it, does “I think that Not-You Man is handsome” really have to be that threatening an idea? If you care about and trust this person to uphold the agreement you’ve come to (whether that’s “no other people,” “tell me first” or “invite me”), you should trust them to care enough about you not to break that agreement no matter how handsome—or funny, or smart—Not You happens to be. Trusting each other enough to be honest about that kind of thing is a good start.

Remember: everybody gets it

Jealousy happens to us all, and it doesn’t mean you have a bad relationship and it doesn’t mean you have a reason to be worried, necessarily.*

 

Know that these feelings come and go, and try to distract yourself from them for a bit. Do something fun with friends or your partner, and take time away from being jealous. 99% of the time jealousy is coming from an irrational place of fear, and just doing something positive and fun that isn’t silently stewing will snap you out of it.

Don’t make it worse

When it comes to envy, Facebook is literally the devil’s tool. Do not engage. You will lose hours of your life judging some random girl’s haircut from 2011, and you will not be any closer to solving the issue at hand, which is your feelings of insecurity or anxiety regarding the relationship. Dwelling on the person or situation making you jealous is not going to stop the jealousy from being there, and will very possibly turn you into a tinfoil-hat Beautiful Mind conspiracy theorist, drawing up late night diagrams about texts sent and received, mumbling cracked out theories involving illicit Twitter DMs to yourself before you turn the lights out. You are a grown up! Do some probing and ask yourself what specifically is making you uncomfortable. More often than not, the solution is changing your thinking.

Talk about it! (Carefully)

More accurately: think first. Write it down. Do something else. Think some more. THEN talk about it. You don’t want to be accusatory, here. The issue is not “You’re texting other girls!!” the issue is “I feel threatened and/or vulnerable right now.” If you’re the one being told this information, your job is to listen and understand. It might seem ludicrous to you, but it’s important to honour your partner’s feelings, even if they’re coming from a place you don’t understand. (Honestly, someone give me my caftan and Middle Class Auntie Amulet right away, things are getting full hippie up in here.) Reassure your partner that you care for them and respect them, and maybe have some sex about it or something.

*Listen to your gut, though.

Sometimes things aren’t right. I would never, ever suggest snooping on someone’s phone or whatever, because that’s just bad form, there’s no way around it, BUT I have never felt an urge to snoop that hasn’t led me to discover bad secrets. When you know, you know. If you’re following the above steps and something still feels fishy, trust your instincts. But trust your partner first! They’re probably not lying to you, guys. Love is not lying, and you’ve agreed that you’re in love, so. Y'know.

Be good, my lieblings! To each other and yourselves!

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