ife has been interesting for me in the past month. There’s been a lot of personal poly shifting in my world, especially in the past week, as I’ve been moving one of my partners into my house on something of a trial basis. This change has necessitated a lot of cleaning, sorting, and moving of things, which has had some amazing results in the real world (I’m seeing parts of my front yard that have been hidden for a decade!), but that has come at the expense of my posting to this blog. My apologies for my slowness at updating. While I prepare some more of my own work to be posted, here’s a Guest Post, by fellow Poly Leadership Network member Kelly Cookson, on that favorite topic of polyamorous people everywhere: Managing Jealousy. Kelly has graciously allowed me to crosspost his message from the PLN list to here, so I can share it with all of you. (Thanks, Kelly!)
I was particularly taken by this succinct summation of the overall technique that both Kelly and presenters Dan & dawn [WARNING! link to their webpage is NOT safe for work!] all suggest:
(a) accept that you sometimes have jealous thoughts and feelings, (b) realize that you have the ability to break the link between those negative thoughts and feelings and the way you actually behave, and (c) behave in a manner consistent with your values as a polyamorist and relationship partner–regardless of whatever thoughts or feelings you might be experiencing. Over time, you find yourself struggling less and less with jealousy, and having more and more satisfying interactions with your partners.
This strikes me as excellent advice, and consistent with my own experiences around jealousy. Follow beyond the cut to read Kelly’s complete post, and see the several books he recommends as support for this information. You can find more resources in my Resources tab to the right, as well.
Thanks for reading. I hope your Holidays so far have been full of Gratitude, and continue to be replete with Love!
PS: If you’re looking for some more personal help working through your own (or your partners’!) jealousy issues, I do private coaching for singles, couples, and “moreples.” Call or email to set up a time for a free mini-session, to see if working with me is right for you. :^) I can work by phone, Skype/Google as well as in person in the Bay Area.
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A few weeks ago, I attended Spanksgiving 2011, an event sponsored by the kink community in St. Louis. I went to two workshops on polyamory presented by Dan and dawn. (They chose to identify themselves by first names. I’m respecting that choice here.) [NOTE: No, this is not me! But I’m inclined to think that whatever another dawn says must naturally be brilliant. ;^) ]
One of their workshops dealt with jealousy. Jealousy is one of my favorite topics…mostly because I spent many years looking for ways to manage my own jealousy. The “unlearn your insecurity and possessiveness” approach never worked for me. The “control your irrational thoughts” approach never worked for me. I finally stumbled upon an approach that works for me. It turns out that the approach I stumbled upon corresponds quite well to concepts from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
So, I was very curious to learn what approach Dan and dawn took in managing jealousy.
Dan and dawn had discovered an approach very similar to the one that works for me. They described their approach using a combination of ideas from Buddhism, a psychological theory of emotion regulation, and their own personal experiences. I would have described the approach using slightly different ideas from ACT. However, the basic approach is the same: (a) accept that you sometimes have jealous thoughts and feelings, (b) realize that you have the ability to break the link between those negative thoughts and feelings and the way you actually behave, and (c) behave in a manner consistent with your values as a polyamorist and relationship partner–regardless of whatever thoughts or feelings you might be experiencing. Over time, you find yourself struggling less and less with jealousy, and having more and more satisfying interactions with your partners. There are lots of specific techniques you can employ to facilitate this approach.
I realize that what works for Dan and dawn, and coincidentally for myself, might not work for other people. People are enormously different. It would be silly to think there is a one-size-fits-all approach to managing jealousy in polyamory. This is just one approach among others. But it’s an approach that works well for some people.
If you get the opportunity, I recommend Dan and dawn’s workshop on jealousy in polyamory. I also recommend the following books as another way to learn the same basic approach:
1. “ACT on Life not on Anger,” by Georg Eifertm, Matthew McKay, John Forsyth, and Steven Hayes. Although this book focuses on anger in general, it can be applied to the negative emotions that occur during jealousy. And, when the book talks about personal values, think in terms of your values as a polyamorist as well as your values as a relationship partner.
2. “The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living” by Russ Harris and Steven Hayes. This books contains some interesting ideas for dealing with the ups and downs that come with polyamory. (Ups and downs come with all romantic relationships, of course. But sometimes they seem to get amplified in polyamory.)
If you find these two books helpful, then you might also consider the book “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life” by Steven Hayes. This book is not as well-written in my opinion. But it contains a large number of specific techniques you can use to supplement/facilitate what you learned from the other two books.
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[© 2011 Dawn M. Davidson]