Like many, Angel stumbled into polyamory quite by accident. She and her husband have been happily married for four years, and recently opened their marriage and their hearts to the possibility of poly relationships. She shares the ups and downs of being new to the lifestyle and navigating the emotional and practical issues that come along with it.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

Comfort zones and competition

I have been learning an awful lot about comfort zones and about the old adage "What's Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander". I am here to tell you that when it comes to poly, that is NOT a good way of thinking. I've been enjoying a hayday since Jack and I started poly. I've dated quite a number of really fantastic men, a few not-so-fantastic, and generally had a lot of fun. Jack doesn't gripe about it, but I know he gets frustrated with how difficult it has been for him to find suitable women who are interested in dating him. It seems that men are more open to the idea of sharing, or perhaps they are willing to compromise themselves more in an effort to obtain sex. Whatever the reason, they don't mind dating a married woman, but it's a hard-sell for Jack. Most gals in our parts are not interested in dating a married man, no matter how his wife tries to convince them it's okay.

The tides have turned recently, so it seems. He has a bevy of girls interested in him, and just when things were starting to look fantastic for him, I started to freak out. That's right, the beasts of jealousy came to pay me a visit. It was so not pretty. All the while my guts were churning and I wanted to scream and cry and disembowel him, I was also chastising myself for being so ridiculous and unreasonable.

"I should be okay with this" I would admonish myself sternly.

"Nooooooo, I should be enough! Why am I not enough?" I would cry in reply.

"You're being silly. We're poly, we've read all about this, we know how to handle it. Just stop being a spoiled brat and shut up".

"I can't, I don't want to share, I hate this, it's horrible. Why are we doing it?"

"Come on now, get over yourself. We know what we are doing. In fact, we should know better than to throw a tantrum. Jack is okay with things, so we need to be okay too, those are the rules. We need to learn to just swallow that icky feeling and soldier on, because that is how it works".

"But...but...I DON'T WANNA!"

And around and around and around. It's all very exhausting. Jack would say or do something with someone else that wasn't even that threatening (like it's all been Internet talk so far, not even real life) and I would hit the roof, then berate myself for hours, and then feel like crap AND still jealous. Jack was totally unsure what to do. He tries so very hard to be accommodating, but even he has a limit. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me or why I can't be alright with things. I almost gave up on poly entirely more than once. It would have been so much easier to just call it quits and get on with a monogamous life. I can do monogamy, I've done it before, it wouldn't be the absolute end of the world.

It occurred to me, via some advice from friends, that just because Jack is comfortable with poly working a certain way, that doesn't mean I have to be ok with exactly the same thing. I am not him, it's silly to expect myself to have the same comfort zones as he does. After all, he doesn't expect his to be where mine are. When we first started to explore non-monogamy, he was dead-set against me having feelings for anyone else. I could sleep with half the city if I wanted, as long as I didn't fall in love with anyone. As it turns out, I am in the opposite place. He can love and adore and spoil anyone he likes, just don't have sex with them. These sorts of feelings are connected to our respective insecurities and beliefs around love, relationships, and sex. I don't wish to speak for him, but I think he was afraid of being replaced by someone with more in common, who could meet more of my emotional needs, or something along those lines. The sex was not that threatening, but the emotional connection worried him a great deal.

I on the other hand am very confident that I have nothing to fear from other women when it comes to Jack's emotional needs. I know how he thinks and feels and I am secure in his love for me and in the life we have built. I have a lot of body issues though, and I have relatively poor self-worth. I often see myself as physically hideous, or not good enough as compared to commonly acceptable standards. This is because I am somewhat overweight, and I am sporting a good many stretch marks from my pregnancies. My skin has next to no elasticity. Even my doctor commented that he'd never seen anything like it before. Not the sort of thing that makes a girl feel real good about being naked.

These women, who I sometimes perceive as my 'competition' (I know it's silly) are generally thinner, and more conventionally 'beautiful' than I believe I am. That certainly doesn't help with stirring up all the insecurities and jealous feelings. What if he finds her sexier and stops wanting to be intimate with me? What if he's thinking about her when he is with me? What if she's better/funner/more sexually compatible with him than I am??? Bah, I could drive myself crazy with the questions.

Having finally let go of my idea that we all had to fit ourselves into some sort of poly 'box' I am slowly finding my way. I will develop my own comfort zones and establish what I need to do, and to ask for to make poly workable for me. We all need to find our own methods of dealing with jealousy, insecurity, and whatever other issue might arise. Just remember that even if your significant other(s) is ok with one thing, that does not mean you have to be ok with it also. The greatest beauty in life is our individuality after all.

Nobody's Angel is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Nobody's Angel; February 01, 2007


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