How to Deal with Jealousy in an Relationship?
When you’re in an open relationship, jealousy occasionally sneaks up on you. While it is tempting in today’s society to put the onus on non-monogamy, it is crucial to remember that jealousy is a common (and healthy) emotion in any relationship. However, being jealous is an uncomfortable emotion, so it seems logical that you’d want to move past it as soon as possible.
What are open relationships?
Before discussing the aspect of jealousy in open relationships, it is important to clarify one’s understanding of what open relationships actually are. There are many different types of relationships that come under (consensual or ethical) non-monogamy.
The terms’ ethical’ and ‘consensual’ imply that there is consent, and the people involved in the relationship know the expectations and boundaries that come with being in it. Open relationships are a different way of perceiving relationships wherein typically, a monogamous couple mutually agree to have sexual relationships (usually casual and non-committed) with other people.
Many assume that when individuals commit to multiple people in different capacities, they do not have the right to be jealous. However, all humans, regardless of the type of relationship they are in, have feelings and needs.
Ambiguity about one’s feelings can cause mental distress. Seek help from one of our mental health professionals at Ganeshaspeaks.com to get clarity on your needs and feelings.
Boundaries in open relationships
Boundaries are crucial in all types of relationships – including open relationships. Some boundaries that are necessary to prevent any misunderstandings and reduce feelings of jealousy are:
– Sexual Boundaries: Is sex with others okay? What types of sex are okay to have with other people? What is out of bounds? What safe-sex practices will you use?
– Emotional Boundaries: Is it okay to go on dates/see other individuals in social contexts? Is it possible for you to have sex and not develop feelings? If that situation arises, how will you, as a couple, address it?
– Participant Boundaries: Who is okay to get intimate with? Should it just be strangers, or are mutual allowed? Are exes okay?
– Time Boundaries: How much time will you spend on all the participants involved in the relationship?
– Disclosure Boundaries: Will you tell each other about outside hook-ups? If you do, how much detail should you go into?
Are your boundaries blurred or clear? Need help to to set boundaries? Please speak to our mental wellness experts at Ganeshaspeaks.com.
Dealing with jealousy in open relationships
Revise ground rules/boundaries
If your pre-decided ground rules are not working, it is okay to change them. Change the boundaries to more stringent or lenient ones as per your need.
Respect and acknowledge how you feel
Denying emotions never helps. Accept your feelings. Say something like, “I’m feeling jealous right now, and that is okay.”. Then, do something soothing to relax. This is not a great solution for long-term jealousy, but it can help with temporary feelings of jealousy. Remember that jealousy is normal, and emotions usually come and go.
Increase your sense of self-esteem
Try engaging in something that you are good at. This can help you reaffirm yourself, and increase your self-love and confidence in yourself.
Talk to your partner about your feelings
Communication is essential in all relationships. No relationship can be healthy without both partners’ needs being met. In relationships where the dynamics are slightly more complicated, like open relationships, it becomes even more important to communicate your needs and boundaries more directly. Clarify your feelings of jealousy, and explore their origins.
Request reassurances and affection from your partner
You may be someone who needs more reminders that your partner cares about you, which is alright. These may be all that you need to get past the feelings of jealousy.
Be aware that it takes time
Patience is of utmost importance in open relationships. Building trust in any relationship takes time. You may make some mistakes on the way, and identifying what works for you may require a little trial-and-error.
Deal with any boundary violations
If there are any boundaries that are being violated, causing feelings of jealousy, acknowledge and talk about them with your partner.
Explore your feelings (especially if you are new to open relationships)
The larger societal discourse has always normalized monogamous relationships. It sends us the message that we should be jealous if our partner is with someone else. Combat whatever norms you feel pressured by. It is possible that you are feeling jealous only because you are supposed to feel jealous.
See a couple’s therapist together
There is nothing wrong with getting some help from a professional third party. If you have not successfully dealt with it, a neutral psychologist or counsellor can help. You can also look for someone who has worked a lot with non-monogamy.
End the relationship if it was an experiment
If you tried an open relationship and it did not work out, it is absolutely okay to end it. You are not obligated to continue your relationship or keep it open if it is not working out. You may also choose to switch to a monogamous arrangement.