Part III: Breaking out of the thought-feeling spiral.
This is the final installment in a three-part series about handling jealousy in polyamorous relationships. In part one, I shared a guided reflection to give you some immediate relief from the difficult emotions related to jealousy; check it out here. In part two, I offered some strategies for challenging the narratives that lie at the root of jealousy. You can check that out here.
In this final installment, I want to invite you to have a lot more fun. Bringing some extra zest, joy, and empowerment into your life can make a huge difference in how hard jealousy hits you. When you’re feeling on top of the world, it’s hard for the nasty narratives of jealousy to take root. That’s what this third and final installment focuses on—helping you feel exactly as fabulous as you really are.
Make your alone time special
Your partner’s out of the house. You’ve got some alone time. I suggest you make that alone time really special. Having a super fun, juicy distraction can make a huge difference in breaking the cycle of obsessive rumination.
Let’s start off with a quick exercise. Get a pencil and a piece of paper to make a list. Ask yourself: What things do I particularly enjoy doing alone? Think of things you’d rather do on your own than with a partner or a friend; things that feel extra fun or extra self-indulgent to do alone. What comes to mind? Jot down your ideas.
Here’s a selection from my list:
- Taking a long bath without worrying about who else needs to use the bathroom
- Gardening at my own speed
- Going for a walk in nature that appeals to me but not to my partner
- Going for a bike ride, stopping wherever I want or not at all
- Cooking a meal with foods I love that my partner doesn’t
- Listening to music or podcasts without worrying about whether I’m bothering my partner
- Watching a movie that suits my taste but not my partner’s
This is just to get you started. Make it a challenge and think of as many as you can. Then put your list someplace where you can easily find it. Next time your partner’s out, look at your list and pick out something really fun. You might start to look forward to these moments.
When your thoughts drift to your partner’s activities, try wishing them well, hoping they are having a good time, and noticing at least three specific ways you benefit if your partner is having a good time. If that sounds difficult, here are a few ideas to get you started, but I strongly suggest you take a minute and think of your own:
- They come home in a good mood
- They have more energy for you
- They aren’t trying to pick up the pieces after a bad time and you don’t have to experience any of the complexity of that situation
Get in touch with how awesome you are
At the end of the day, I want you to be aware of how much control you have over the narratives you choose to tell yourself (spoiler alert, you have 100 percent control over this). I want you to be in touch with your own awesomeness, your own happiness, and your own sense of power.
Ask yourself: What would I prefer to believe? Whatever it is, write it down.
If I were to answer that question, I would say that I would prefer to believe that my relationship stands on its own and that no other relationship that my partner might have is in competition with my relationship in any way. That’s the story I want to tell myself. But it is important to get in touch with what you actually want to believe; my response is just an example. Think it over for yourself and write down what you want to believe for yourself.
Every single one of us is different and irreplaceable, including you. You are irreplaceable. Your partner loves you because you’re you. We can love lots of people in our lives in lots of different ways, each uniquely because they are uniquely themselves. This is equally true of you.
To help you support this narrative, I encourage you to make a list of things that you know to be true about yourself. How do you know that you’re you? For instance:
Give yourself props
I hope you’re feeling a bit more grounded and a bit more in touch with your own miraculous, unique self. Holding steady through jealousy isn’t easy, but it will get a little easier every time you practice these skills. Bookmark this post series for next time you need it, and don’t forget to put the lists you made someplace where you can find them whenever you need them!.
Finally, give yourself some props for sticking with this challenge. You’re a rockstar for taking the time to sit with your jealousy and experiment with new ways to manage emotions. Thank you for your courage.
- I am creative
- I am spontaneous
- I am playful
- I am moody
- I love music
- I love art
What are some things about you that are just indisputably true, that make you special and unique? These are things that your partner knows about you, and that your partner probably chose when they chose you. Make a list and put it somewhere where you can find it when you need a boost.
If you want a little bolstering, you can bring your partner into this conversation: “What are the things about me that are particularly irreplaceable in your eyes? How do you know that I’m special? How do you know that you want to be with me?”
Maybe your partner can either contribute to your list, write their own list, or write you a letter that says, “These are the things about you that are irreplaceable. No matter who else I might ever love, care about, like, or spend time with, you are irreplaceable and these things are you to me.”
Originally published on Psychology today