Something people say to me often when they hear about my relationship choice is " Oh I just couldn't do that. I love him (her) too much to share. I just get so jealous!! "
In the early early days this used to stump me because it actually implies that my partners are loved less because I am not jealous which is highly inaccurate! But I hadn't yet formulated a response whereby to explain my position. It is so acceptable in our culture to measure love by jealousy that people question what might be "wrong " with a non jealous person.
Jealousy is actually rooted in fear, not love.
If we believe we have found "the one" mate that will save us and meet all of our needs forever we will be fearful if they form another connection that could threaten this.
This fear and insecurity manifests as jealousy. Our feelings, if based in an "ownership" type of love cause us to jealously guard our mate's every word, move and sometimes even thought in an effort to ensure we keep that "top spot" that we believe we are entitled to.
And whilst we're priding ourselves on being "so in love that we're jealous" we are actually locking our partner in a state of being that resembles a cage or a prison. Not ideal.
So what is the answer?
What is the alternative to jealousy?
The answer is a word I'd never actually heard before poly but is certainly not owned by polyamory -compersion.
Wiktionary.org defines compersion as such:
I remember being so happy when my oldest child found a friend who was just like her. The girls played with their beanie toys making up stories for hours. Prior to that she had been alone in this pastime as the other girls were prematurely moving on to an obsession with hair, makeup and fashion. Watching her go from being alone to finding a true and happy connection filled me with a joy so strong I can still remember it fifteen years later.
I feel the same way anytime someone I love enjoys a meaningful connection with, or is loved by someone else.
I don't for a minute think that I can meet all of my husbands needs all of the time. Even if I didn't have some health issues and a special needs child it would be very egotistical of me to believe that I could be the only thing he needs. I also know he has not had as much love as he deserves in his lifetime so far and so my wish for him is that he be surrounded by as many people who love him as possible.
So when he gets to go out and do things that I don't have skills or energy for I am happy for him. And when he is surrounded by love and cuddles it brings me so much joy it's amazing.
If compersion doesn't come easily to you it is a skill than can be learnt. Some people are just naturally jealous by nature but like anything it doesn't have to rule your behaviour.
By working on your fears, your insecurities and teaching yourself a new way to love (without wanting to own) it will become one easier for you to want see your loved ones receiving happiness from any source.
When I first come out as bi/poly to people they ask me the same set of questions. Because this has happened so many times I can now joke about them as my FAQS! And because I've answered them so many times this has now become a very fast exchange.
"How do you you share your husband!" Because he's not my property to share. He is a free person.
"What if he falls in love with someone else" That would be awesome I hope she falls in love with him too.
"But what if he leaves you for her?" He won't. He doesn't need to he's able to be in love with more than one person at a time.
"But what if he leaves you anyway?" Then I would be happy for him if he was happy because ultimately I love him and want him to be happy.
"Really?" (the interrogator usually sounding incredulous by this point!) Yes really. If I love someone I want whatever makes them happy, even if it is not me.
(Please note if you are reading this and have been one of the people who have asked me these questions please don't feel bad I don't mind in the slightest!! The questions have forced me to articulate answers and now I am able to share this as a result)
So...the bottom line:
If you love someone with a pure love that is focused on their happiness rather than your own, it is very difficult to feel jealous as that would be begrudging them of their joy.
Funnily enough, when you are the recipient of this kind of love the last thing from your mind is anything which knowingly hurts the one giving you that love. It's really a win/win.