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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Don't do it if it makes sense!

Yep, it happened again. One more time I found myself in the middle of a conversation that made my head spin and my brain hurt. At the same time, it got me to thinking. . .

The comment that was made was this; "I can't do poly, I get jealous too easy. Instead I'll just cheat."

Excuse me?

At first glance that statement was more than a little disturbing to me. And as you might have guessed, or even do yourself, I mentally put that person immediately into the "Do Not Touch!" category. At the same time I like to be open to new ideas and dislike judging people without at least understanding their perspective or reasoning so I tried to take a balanced look at the statement and underlying concept.

With poly you do still have jealousy, I can't argue with that. Some people are better than others at controlling it or dealing with it but most still have it. The behavior taught to most of us throughout life is that physical sharing of the person you love is wrong. Physical fidelity implies love and commitment. The result is that the idea of sharing your love with another person can create feelings of jealousy.

But jealousy, in my opinion, is supported by other behavior. Most obvious is that whatever is happening isn't talked about. It is a secret. It is that unknown that often makes jealousy much worse than what actually took place. But there are other things that can cause jealousy to grow such as lack of support or visible behavior by a partner.

In trying to wrap my head around the concept of cheating to avoid jealousy all I kept seeing were red flags and comparisons that raised even more red flags;

With poly and jealousy things are, hopefully, out in the open and you can work on the problems whereas with cheating you deal with your own guilt and should you get caught the relationship will likely explode as unfixable.

Jealousy mainly causes one person pain, maybe two. Not to diminish that but with cheating a whole lot of people could potentially be hurt.

Jealousy may or may not be a concern to other parts of the relationship whereas cheating is a good indication there are other rules or expectations that are possibly not being followed as well.

With all of that said, I have known couples in the past with a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Basically they know their partner is having other relationships, they just don't talk about it. I'm not sure how that would help you avoid jealousy. For me the unknown is almost always worse than the known. What it does do though is lead me to a bit better understanding of what the person mentioned was trying to say. Essentially what they don't know won't hurt them. At that point cheating, assuming you don't get caught, will avoid jealousy. Both having it and having to deal with it from a partner.

In a twisted way it makes a bit of sense to me now. If jealousy is the absolute worst problem you can imagine in a relationship then avoiding it at any cost makes some sense. Though I don't agree with cheating and would avoid becoming involved with someone who is cheating, I at least understand it a bit better now.

Where are you at with cheating? I know, most people despise it completely and I pretty much feel the same way. But, are there situations where cheating would actually be a better option?


  1. Having just found your blog, I really appreciate your insight. Polyamory is quite new to me. I'm just glad I've found a community I can do some self-reflection with!

    My SO had confided in me a few years ago about a cheating episode. My response was nothing close to jealousy (nor even arousal). If anything, I was glad it worked out between them. I just said that I trust in our relationship. I also said I didn't really need to know any details.

    Another year or so past and my SO became involved with another, then another, then came to me in tears for another confession. I admitted I was busy, couldn't provide as much affection as she may have desired, and again, was glad she was enjoying her other relationships.

    I've only mentioned any of this previously to another friend. My friend thinks I'm nuts. I just think I may be uncommon. I don't feel jealous. Perhaps envious that she gets to play and I'm too busy or just not so lucky, but definitely not jealous. I love her and want her to be happy. I appreciate that she takes care of her own needs, whether or not I know about it. My only request was that she be safe and remember her duties as a mother come first.

    If I'm stuffing some unhealthy emotions into the deep crevices of my soul, it must be an unconscious act. I feel no different. I do know her boyfriends. They know I know (I think they feel more uncomfortable being around me, which is a shame).

    To answer your questions, I have no issues with cheating. As for being a better option... I personally don't have a lot of interest in keeping up with what my SO does with her free time. I may be crazy, but I find myself more grounded than most people I meet. I just don't understand why others would not want the person they love to enjoy life to the fullest!

  2. Vladimir,
    Welcome! And thanks for the comment! It is nice to have another perspective regarding jealousy.

    I found it interesting that you said “. . . I have no issues with cheating.” Then “. . .I personally don’t have a lot of interest in keeping up with what my SO does with her free time.”

    Reading between the lines if I may, it sounds like you are busy and have consciously devoted your time to activities other than your partner and understand that choice may leave her needs unfulfilled. With her needs in mind, you have accepted that she will need to have them met by someone other than you. I doubt that is a relationship design I could enjoy but I do respect the logic of the decisions you have made.
    Though it sounds as though you are happy with things, is she? I ask because twice you mention your SO coming to you with confessions. I would think the stress of cheating in her mind is somewhat unhealthy and could be avoided with redesign of the relationship to a form that would make her freedom clear and eliminate her feeling guilty. It sounds like some of that may have been worked out already but I’m not sure from your comment. I’d love to hear if it has or if you have plans to change the relationship design in the future.

    I’m also curious, if your relationship changed and you were able to devote more time to her needs do you think you would then start to experience jealousy and have less tolerance for cheating?