The other night I had the opportunity to have some interesting conversation with a small group of poly folks about general poly topics. The group consisted of a couple in a long term poly relationship and a couple of others whose status I don't know.
One person made a comment that I found interesting which I'll paraphrase here: Jealousy is a bad thing. Poly's strive to overcome jealousy so they don't experience it anymore. The ultimate goal is to never again have jealousy or to be able to say "I don't do jealousy".
When questioned about the reason for such a statement the person further stated, "Jealousy just isn't healthy."
As you might imagine that generated quite a lively conversation with some of the following arguments:
-Jealousy is a healthy thing. It is a normal human emotion and to try and just not have it anymore wouldn't be healthy.
-Jealousy can be a good tool. It lets us know that we care for someone, maybe more than we know, and that our needs maybe aren't being met. The result can be healthy as well if it prompts open discussion between partners about reasons for jealousy and how they can help each other overcome jealousy.
-Ownership jealousy, such as being jealous when your partner is physically with someone else, often is just a symptom of something else. Fear of loss or rejection, or one's own insecurities for example. Understanding and working on the actual root of the issue will often eliminate the feelings of jealousy.
One point of agreement within the group was that jealousy, for any reason, which begins to dictate control over another person, or the relationship, is not healthy.
Personally I experience jealousy and don't feel it is always a bad thing. Something I've realized is that I have different types and levels of jealousy depending on my partner. That isn't a way to assign blame or avoid ownership of my emotions but it has proven to me that jealousy, although a feeling experienced by one person, involves both people and requires both of them to consciously work at either avoiding or overcoming the feelings.
Whenever possible I try to embrace any feelings of jealousy I have and use them as a learning experience. I try to understand their cause and immediately upon noticing the feelings communicate with my partner. When communicating I try to be clear that I'm not assigning blame or criticizing their actions. Only that I want them to be aware of how I am feeling and to work with me to understand the feelings. Note that I don't say I want to work toward eliminating the feelings. I truly believe jealousy is okay at times. And often a better emotion than anger, resentment, envy or a host of other uglier alternatives. I have even been in relationships where we have made rules supporting jealousy as a way to temporarily provide relief for the person experiencing the jealousy while they try to understand their cause.
As many different types and causes of jealousy that exist, so do the number of possible solutions or methods of dealing with jealousy.
How do you deal with jealousy? Is it something you don't experience at all? Do you believe it to be healthy? Unhealthy?