Note: While this outline will give you some things to talk about actually reading More Than Two is probably going to be incredibly valuable. I have outlined and asked questions about the things I have found interesting and thought-provoking, but you may find different things more helpful to yourself.
This was made for use by The Denver Nontraditional Relationships Meetup. Feel free to use it for other groups or for your own use as long as you credit Poly Talk. Going through it with a partner or your polycule might be especially helpful!
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Chapter 8: Taming the Green-Eyed Monster
Wibbles– temporary or fleeting feeling of jealousy, usually over something small. Sometimes these are just remnants of monogamous programming rather than feelings that need to be worked through and discussed.
Jealousy is given power other emotions are not. We rarely hear people say “polyamory, I could never do that I would get too angry/sad.”
Jealousy can make us feel like we are being wronged when we aren’t. Have you had this experience? Have any of your partner’s taken their jealousy out on you and your relationships? What can this look like?
Jealousy can make us feel like we shouldn’t talk about it. How have you fought this feeling to communicate effectively about your jealousy?
The feeling of jealousy may come up without us being able to control it, but we can control how we react to it. What are some of the ways we shouldn’t react to jealousy?
Jealousy isn’t always obviously jealousy- sometimes it looks like anger, betrayal, sadness, loneliness, etc. We have to see it to address it. How do you identify when you are feeling jealous out of these other emotions? What signs do you watch for in yourself and others?
We also can mistakenly identify jealousy as a culprit when it isn’t the real problem. Have you ever made this mistake?
Triggers for Jealousy
- Fear of losing social status that comes with being a couple (what does this say about couple privilege?)
- Physical affection or flirting with others
- Often jealousy arises from comparing ourselves to others
What has triggered jealousy for you and your partners? How have you handled it without trying to dictate other’s behavior?
Blaming triggers won’t help us overcome this behavior. We have to dig deeper. That is why rules limiting triggers don’t actually help.
Listening to Jealousy
Often, we treat jealousy as if it is an evil feeling and try to suppress it rather than tackling it head on. But the feeling itself is not the problem, negative and controlling actions are. You are not bad at polyamory for getting jealous, it happens to nearly everyone.
Being polyamorous for a long time does not mean that jealousy will never pop up, but it gets easier. Those of you who have been polyamorous for a while, has this been your experience? How did you get past that initial jealousy?
Jealousy is a feeling, not an identity. People who say “I am just a jealous person” are giving power to that emotion by making it a part of their identity when they could work past it. What advice do you have for people who feel this way?
Step By Step Approach
Is anyone struggling with jealousy they want to volunteer to work through as a group as an example? If not, any past cases of jealousy we can work through? Remember to stay positive and supportive!
- Accept the feeling
- Separate triggers from causes
- Understand the feelings
- Talk about it
- Practice security
- (NOT IN BOOK) Talk about how you can address these feelings even better next time
Does this closely match your ways of dealing with jealousy? If you do something differently, what is it? What can you do better in how you manage jealousy in yourself and others?
The fear of missing out can be another motivator to jealousy. Evaluate why we don’t feel this for some things and others. When has FOMO motivated your jealousy? Was how you handled it different to other jealousy?
Actively seeking out compersion can help in these cases. If you find that activity attractive, your partner probably does and is likely enjoying themselves. Trying to focus on their happiness rather than you missing out can help. Missing out on someone’s first doesn’t make that first with you any less significant. Is there a situation in your life that applies to this situation? How can you look at it differently?
Keeping Score & Comparisons
Keeping score and comparisons are the fastest way to problems with jealousy. For example, it can be easy to get caught up in who is having more sex with your partner. But we forget everyone and sex with everyone is different. How do you stop from comparing yourself to your metamours? How do you keep yourself from making negative comparisons between partners?
Keeping score keeps us from communicating our needs.
Realize that people, including yourself, are not interchangeable. How can we make sure we don’t treat people as such?
Comparisons can be helpful for identifying how people and relationships are unique. What is an example of comparisons that can be positive?
When Is It Jealousy vs. An Indication of a Problem
- When there is a lack of empathy
- Unwillingness to talk through your problems
- Attitude of entitlement
How can you tell the difference? How can you be compassionate with partners who are feeling jealous without enabling bad behavior?
Chapter 9: Boundaries
Boundaries, rules, agreements are often used interchangeably but really don’t mean the same thing. What are the differences?
We recommend focusing on boundaries- because they pertain to yourself rather than controlling others behaviors. For example:
Rule on Safe Sex
You cannot have unprotected sex with other people.
Agreement on Safe Sex
We won’t have unprotected sex with other people.
Boundary for Safe Sex
I won’t sleep with people who have unprotected sex.
Boundaries are the best to focus on because they dictate only your behavior and doesn’t threaten the autonomy of others.
What are some physical boundaries you have? Mental? How do you keep these needs focused on yourself rather than others?
Self-awareness is key in these boundaries. How can you get to know yourself better?
Sel-compassion is also important in creating and maintaining boundaries. How do you encourage self compassion? How do you stand up for your boundaries? Has there been a situation in which they have been challenged? How did you react?