Bi and Poly Part III: Managing Jealousy

12/1/16

zach-in-sunWhile there hasn’t been any scientific research to back this up, I have a hypothesis that bi folks, in general, are less jealous than straight individuals. I believe this because bi folks are often more introspective and self aware. We had to be, in order to realize that we were indeed bi and to break free from the shackles of a heteronormative society. In her book, “Women in Relationships with Bisexual Men: Bi Men by Women“, Dr. Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, discussed that many out bi people also oppose traditional gender roles. It’s part of the reason why, according to Dr. Pallotta-Chiarolli, openly bi men tend to make better lovers, partners, and fathers. Because of this, I also think that bi men are less likely to objectify women, and subsequently, are less likely to get jealous if their partner flirts with another man.

Additionally, as bi people, we’ve dealt with jealous partners. We’ve dealt with partners who think we’re going to leave them for another gender. Our partners often respond by getting jealous of platonic friends, who happen to be of a different gender than they are.

So we know, firsthand, how damaging jealousy can be to a relationship. That said, we also know how unnecessary jealousy is. Ninety-nine percent of the time, jealousy simply isn’t a productive emotion.

Nevertheless, many of us are still jealous at times, myself included. Contrary to popular belief, bi people are still humans. We exist as living, breathing things. We have emotions, and jealousy is indeed one of them.

In my last monogamous relationship, I was that jealous boyfriend. I wouldn’t ever yell, or anything like that. That’s not the type of person I am. I don’t engage in alpha nonsense. I would just cross my arms and quietly sulk in the corner whenever I got jealous.

Even though I knew in my heart of hearts that she loved me unconditionally, and would never cheat on me, I still, for some ineffable reason, was constantly jealous. (I learned later that it was my own insecurities and trust issues that were causing my jealousy, but that took a while for me to fully understand.)

It was a terrible and toxic feeling. I hated the control it had over me. I hated that I couldn’t be the confident partner that my girlfriend deserved. Bizarrely enough, it was polyamory that forced me to confront my jealousy issues and insecurities. It was polyamory that forced me to dig deep down to see what the root of my jealousy was.

Polyamory also taught me how to analyze my jealousy logically. Because when I first became polyamorous, I was jealous. Let me rephrase that, I was very jealous. It was difficult not to be. But it was shocking how quickly my jealousy disappeared with polyamory. It’s like a switch turned off one night, and I somehow purged myself of the green-eyed monster living deep inside of me. (You can read about my whole experience with polyamory and jealousy here.)

Now I’m not only a less jealous person, I’m a much happier person. But it took me a while to get to this point. It took me a while to be able to look at my jealousy logically and also know how to communicate my jealous feelings to my partner in a way that wasn’t threatening or accusatory. Conversely, I didn’t want to sound pathetic either. I didn’t want to sound like I was whining or insecure (which is exactly how I came off with my ex).  

So go and take a look at my video. In it, I discuss how to talk about your jealousy with your partner when you’re in a non-monogamous relationship. (This still pertains to individuals in monogamous relationships as well!) This is the final video in a three part mini-series I filmed on open relationships. If you haven’t seen the first two videos already, check them out here. The first video answers the question, “Am I ready to be in an open relationship?” The second video tackles the question, “How do I ask my partner for an open relationship (in a manner where they won’t freak out)?”

But in the third and final installment, I discuss what I did that helped me overcome my jealousy issues as well as what I learned. If you’re not the jealous type, that’s okay too. The video provides some ways to help your partner, if they’re struggling with jealousy.

Take a look!

Zachary Zane
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Zachary Zane is a modern day Carrie Bradshaw from Los Angeles. His writing focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, dating, and relationships. He's currently a contributor at Cosmopolitan, Bustle, PRIDE, and Huffington Post Queer Voices. He's working on a novel, which explores the modern relationship between masculinity, vulnerability, and sexuality.