“Don’t worry, what we have is different.” “Our relationships is special.” “I could never feel about anyone the way I feel about you.”
It’s so often phrases like this that are used to give reassurance in polyamorous relationships. People remind their primary or central partners that they are the most important, most special- the best. And that reminder is used as a security blanket to help reduce feelings of jealousy.
It’s the most obvious way of dealing with jealousy: to simply remove the surface cause, which in this case is whatever perceived threat of another partner’s superiority that might be present. I find myself falling into this pattern easily, thinking that as long as I can convince myself I am the best at eveything, I don’t have feel jealous. This is the “easy” way, in the sense that I don’t have to confront the actual root of the insecurity that is causing me jealousy, which would require much more vulnerability and both introspective and interpersonal work. But in the long run, it is more difficult. I set myself up for failure because being the best at everything and being better than anyone I feel threatened by is an impossible and absurd goal.
So the harder path is before me: to discover where this need to be the most special and best comes from- why I have to feel superior to others to be okay with myself. I investigate why the reassurance I need to feel secure in a relationship is that I am prettier, sexier, more intelligent, more artistic, more dynamic, more inspiring- more perfect.
Sometimes we are jealous because we are genuinely not getting our emotional needs met. In this case, a frank conversation with those who are leaving us unfulfilled is important. But other times we feel jealousy because of our own feelings of inadequacy. These feelings can come from many different places- negative messages learned in childhood, toxic cultural attitudes that wear our sense of self down- our own learned victimhood that prevents us from appreciating the strengths and joys of others without internalizing it as a defect of ourselves.
There is something here that I feel is important, although I can’t quite grasp it: so for now I just want to keep pondering over. Can I find a way to allow a relationship to be fully its own: can I appreciate a relationship just as something unique and beautiful in itself without comparing it to others. Of course, this is not denying that some relationships will organically become more intimate and significant than others over time, but that no matter what the nature of the relationship is, as long as it is healthy and consensual there is nothing about it being “better” or “worse” in whatever various arbitrary traits I’ve decided are important. It has to do with feeling secure in a relationship because you know that it is simply the unique and remarkable meeting of two people. Not because it is better or because you are better, but because all relationships are special and unique in their own way.
I don’t pretend to think that this way of thinking is necessarily attainable for a lot of people. It’s okay to feel jealous, and it’s okay to be struggling with feeling insecure and inadequate. And hopefully we cope with those feelings the best that we can. But this idea, of letting relationships speak for themselves, and of really letting ourselves see the unique and beautiful connection inherent in all relationships, is something I try my best to hold in myself- even if it’s just to ponder it further.