Working With The Emotion Of Jealousy

May 25, 2021


Hi, my name is Martha Kauppi. I’m an AASECT-certified sex therapist and supervisor. Welcome to my vlog. Today, and in the next few episodes, I am going to talk about aspects of handling jealousy well in open relationships. First of all, to clarify, I’m talking about consensually-open relationship structures where all involved are aware and consenting to the open relationship. We’re talking about CNM: consensually non-monogamous relationships and specifically polyamory, which is a form of consensually-open relationship that usually involves romance.

If you’re in an open relationship and your partner has another partner that they’re experiencing romantic feelings for, it’s understandable that you might experience some jealousy. One of the myths about polyamory is that people in polyamororus relationships relationships don’t experience jealousy, so I will strat by debunking that. People in open relationships absolutely do experience jealousy.

As a therapist, one of the things I help people work with is the jealousy that they experience. I’m hoping that I can shed a little bit of light to help therapists and also people who are experiencing jealousy in their open relationships. These same tips will work for other types of jealousy as well.

Let’s get started. First of all, in this first vlog post about jealousy, I want to talk about what jealousy is and how we think of it culturally and what’s problematic about that. I think that jealousy is an emotion. It’s a lot like other emotions and in fact, it has a whole lot in common with anxiety. I think culturally, we have an experience of jealousy like, “If you experience jealousy, that means somebody did you wrong. Something is wrong. Something’s not working as it should or you would be happy.” We don’t have that same assumption about, for instance, anxiety. If somebody says, “I experience a lot of anxiety,” I think we have now, at this point in history at least, some cultural awareness that the anxious emotion might be out of proportion to the situation as opposed to a true signal of danger or warning that’s relevant in the present moment.

This is a critical, very important distinction because if you see jealousy as a sign that something’s broken in your relationship and somebody did you wrong, it doesn’t give you much of a locus of control to handle your emotional experience in a way that helps you be happy. My goal is for you to be happy and to be happy, we all have to be way better at managing our emotions. Let’s talk about jealousy as if it were an emotion and as if it were possible to regulate it.

Again, I want to just stress that jealousy is not that different from anxiety. I think just knowing that and being aware that emotions come and so you might experience jealousy, that’s ok. Everything’s good with that. The question is: what are you going to do with it? Just like with anxiety. You experience anxiety. You might be able to set your life up in ways that you experience somewhat less anxiety, but it’s still going to happen now and then. The question, in terms of being a happy person, is: how are you going to handle the anxiety when it arises?

There are a lot of ways to handle jealousy when it comes up and that’s what I’m going to be talking about in the remainder of this little vlog, mini-series on handling jealousy. Stay tuned for the next episode and thanks for listening.

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