Lessons On Jealousy From an Open Relationship

I’ve been in an open relationship with my fiance Whitney Miller for over 4 years, and still, jealousy is a dragon that needs to be slain daily. When ‘open’ is simply an idea in your head, you think to yourself, “I’ve got this, no big deal.” Then when the person you love most - the person whose smile is precious to you, whose smells are like your private garden of blooming flowers - starts texting, dining, traveling, and fucking someone else, you realize...

“...Maybe I don’t got this.”

The first time it happens it might be days of agony. The feeling hits you so hard you don’t know whether to vomit or cry, curl up in a ball or start sprinting up a mountain. You may try to find the way out by building up your own ego. It starts like this, “Well I’m better than the other lover because…” And sometimes that will work...for a while. It’s like drinking scotch to help you grieve the death of a loved one, or using a crutch to help you keep the weight off a broken bone. But inevitably that crutch will fail. Your lover will find someone who is better than you at whatever your ego uses to validate itself. Maybe it is being a great lover. Maybe it is making money. Maybe it is popularity or accomplishment.

The only thing that your lover won’t ever find someone better at, though, is being you. You will always be the very best you that anyone can be. So you learn to trust that.

You learn that your worth isn’t dependent on any of your attributes and that you don’t need anything external to validate you. You learn that you are worthy of love, just because you are alive.

Once you’ve understood that (which isn’t easy, trust me) then you can start overcoming your jealousy with compersion. Compersion is the enjoyment of someone else’s enjoyment. This isn’t cuckolding, where you are getting sexual pleasure from the fantasy of your lover having sex with someone else. This is emotional pleasure, derived simply from their pleasure (be it sexual or not). It is the basis of real Love. If you love someone, you are happy that they are laughing, even when it isn’t your joke. You are happy that they are orgasming, even if it isn’t your body that is making them cum. It is rooted in the deepest metaphysical and mystical truth that we are all the same person, living different lives. Compersion is the only way out of the maze of jealousy and suffering.

Recently my fiance found a lover who was extremely challenging for me to accept. Every time I would think of them having sex, I would get cold sweat on my brow, and an electric eel lighting up my stomach. To help practice compersion, I had to visualize heart emojis coming from my own heart, just like on Instagram or Facebook Live, when I imagined them having sex. Every bit of pleasure they received -every spank, every thrust, every moan- I gave them more heart emojis. It worked. The suffering left my body, and the cold sweat turned into a quiet, stable peace. So you see, the only way to slay the dragon of jealousy is with love.

Open relationship isn’t about having sex with a lot of people. If you get into it for that, you are going to fail.

It’s about figuring out how to love yourself without condition, and how to love others without possession. If that is the goal, and you are prepared to meet your shadows with love and forgiveness, being open just might be for you.

For more on open relationship, check my open relationship resource page, here.

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  • I want to know and understand how Savannah ( I believe that’s her name) your lover or Ricky feel? How do they handle not being a part of the primary relationship? I still need to read more of your posts. Do you have anything from their point of view?

    Cynthia Lynn
  • I respect people’s choice to be in open-relationships, obviously. People have to follow their own hearts and conscious. However, I don’t agree with the idea that being in a non-open, monogamous, committed relationship is about just about “possession” or giving into “jealousy”. As someone who thinks monogamous, committed relationships can be insanely fulfilling an meaningful, I want to address some of the things in this post, and share alternative ways of looking at the situation.

    I don’t agree that monogamous relationships are all about “loving with condition”. First of all, we have to ask ourselves, what does “loving with condition” even mean? Is that such a bad or evil thing? Is not approving of a partner who never showers, who never tried to connect with your best friends and family, or in a more serious context, who verbally degrades you “loving with condition”? Perhaps, but is it bad to expect your partner to care about things that matter to you? What if sexual exclusivity is very special to you? Is that inherently bad or possessive? Not at all. I would argue that it is extremely healthy for both partners to expect sacrificing momentary pleasures for a more long term, deeper connection. It is about MUTUAL consideration and respect for one another. Of course I love all humans, even humans who have flaws or have been selfish. I am 100% a person who has many flaws and who behaves selfishly often. I do agree my partner should try love me anyway when I fail, HOWEVER, I must also be actively trying to improve myself and be a more considerate partner. It is on BOTH of us. I would never just say, “you MUST accept me exactly as I am or else you don’t love me!” I would never want to do something that makes my partner feel so sick and hurt as you described when you have to think about your partner being so extremely intimate with someone else. If I love someone, we have to talk about their pains and where they are coming from? I hope you don’t believe that struggling with jealousy or feeling hurt when your partner is extremely sexually intimate with other people makes you a “bad” or “selfish person”. Relationships require some compromises, and require sacrifice. These aren’t bad things. They actually can make a relationship stronger.

    Sex is so, so, so intimate and powerful for some people. I know for me it is. Is wanting that to be a special and sacred part of your relationship with your beloved only about “possession”? I think that is a very superficial way of looking at the desire for monogamy. It is about BOTH parties feeling honored that even though there are billions of other people in the world to have sex with, you make a HUGE sacrifice and share that solely with each other. Wow. It gives me butterflies just thinking about it <3 That is not coming from a place of possession. That is coming from a place of trying to HONOR your partner with one of the most intense, tangible, human experiences there is possible; sexual intimacy. I think it’s fucking beautiful. Having boundaries and definitions are how we, as humans, often making meaning of the world. A boundary is not necessarily evil or about restriction. In fact, I would argue that we often find a new, deeper more meaningful sense of “freedom” when we commit ourselves to people and actions that matter. To me, that is what monogamy is about. It’s not about jealousy. It’s not about owning your partner. It is about creating deeper meaning, trust, and love. It is very self-LESS in many ways. Not to mention the freedom of knowing that I won’t contract any STIs or become impregnated with any other man’s child than the love of my life’s child. Those are ALSO things I want to devote to him, and I want him to devote to me.

    Sure, we maybe able to love infinite people in this life. We may be able to be sexually attracted to infinite people as well. However, somethings that are not infinite are; time, intimacy, and human energy. I think monogamy is about sacrificing our limited resources and channeling them into our beloved as much as we can. This doesn’t mean we can’t have other friendships or passions. But when it comes to romance and sexual intimacy, we do this as a way to connect more deeply.

    Again, “sacrifice” is not necessarily a bad thing. Imagine all of the beautiful things you wouldn’t have in life if you never made any sacrifices. Also, jealousy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s all about HOW you express your feelings. Call me crazy, but sometimes I find it insanely sexy that my partner wants to share those special moments with me, and only me. As long as he’s not hypocritical, and it’s mutual, I find it extraordinarily heartfelt. I feel sad that we’re living in a time were people are made to feel like having that desire is “negative” and about “possession” when we look deeper, there is SO much more to it.

    I know I rambled on, but I feel like it’s really important for people who want monogamy to know that there are others out there who realize it’s not just about “ownership” or “jealously”. There are more meaningful things that you’re attempting to strive for. I love that my partner is mine and I am his. It is not about being owned. It is about becoming ONE. It’s about intensifying our bond. No hate towards other kinds of relationships, but I just wanted to talk about the monogamous perspective, because I see it being demonized a lot lately (not saying that is what the author was doing at all! Just something I noticed in general) All love to everyone, and I wish everyone the deepest, truest love out there! <3

  • Is the “quiet, stable peace” at all, perhaps denial and suppression? I mean I wonder if afterwards that state has ever returned to jealousy or urge to ache whenever you knew your Love was with the same partner again? If it has; then it wouldn’t really be a “stable peace”, more than a momentary dissociation so that you can maintain the homeostasis of an open relationship. I’m not discrediting the idea of an open relationship. I’m asking purely to try to understand the concept. It sounds idyllic. I’d like to think I could take part in an open relationship with the notion that the man I love dearly deserves to receive happiness from others in the ways that I myself might not be able to fulfill; because it’s silly to think you’re the sole. Honestly I just feel like my weakness will overtake my strength in this matter. Wouldn’t it be best to just not declare a relationship then? Doesn’t even entertaining the notion bring the suffering of attachment? I mean, tell me how that can not be the case. I want to make sure that peaceful acceptance is truly that and not just another round of ego tricks.

  • Hey! Thanks a lot for your podcasts and posts. Reading this article makes me feel supported as I’m going through the challenges of open relationship. They are massive for me. And knowing that other humans are walking down the same path feeling the same ego-shattering moments that I am makes me feel not alone and helps give me courage to continue. I find it challenging to walk this path which can feel quite lonely. You have helped give me the confidence boost I needed to truly evolve in moments of deep pain and I am grateful that I have help here.

  • How does it feel when you are fucking some other woman? How do you feel about Whitney knowing and getting jealous about it?

  • Before I comment I just want to say your podcasts have helped me reclaim my life and really understand what I grew up believing. Thank you for sharing your personal life with the world. It has helped greatly.

    This is the only thing you speak about that has thrown me off a little lol. I understand true love is allowing your significant other to flourish and be happy with or without you. I don’t think my views on the subject are right or wrong, they’re just my own personal experience with it. I grew up believing sex, intimacy, etc is what you share with someone who you connect very deeply with. Someone you feel something you have never felt before (beyond your ego). Usually this is developed over time, or sometimes you meet someone and you feel this overpowering force of love for them and develops more over time. Anyways my question is how do you decipher whether temptation/ego want something in this scenario. What is the difference between you or your significant other wanting sex or wanting to do a drug? Or overeat? Or anything that is a feeling our body craves? Is this not just a question of self control? I personally have only had sex with 5 people and out of the 5 I had been in love with 2 of them. The experience I had with the ones I loved we’re drastically different than the others. The sex I had with the 3 were equivalent to getting rid of an urge. Like when I’m hungry I eat, when I’m tired I sleep, when I have to shit I go to the bathroom, when i’m horny I have sex. I realized after the last person I had sex with, I was viewing it as this thing you satisfy when you crave it, and it’s socially acceptable. In fact, you’re looked down on if you don’t have sex frequently (not that I care or it matters) but it never fully felt right. To me, making love is this beautiful powerful thing you share with someone who has a deep connection to you. One of the people I didn’t love, I technically enjoyed them more in bed than an ex lover. But the experience and feelings I had with the person I was in love with were more powerful and meaningful than a really good orgasm. I am just wondering where’s the line if there is one? If you’re at a restaurant with Whitney and your waiter hits on her and she wants to sleep with him because he’s hot and is able to that night, is that too far? I’m assuming there aren’t rules because that would contradict the whole reason for having an open relationship and wanting someone to be happy if that’s what they want. Who dictates what makes someone happy besides them and is it ever appropriate to say, that’s not what you truly need, that’s an itch you want to scratch because you’re body’s telling you.

    I hope this didn’t come off as arrogant, I am truly curious on this subject mostly because I am somewhat ignorant to it. But again, thank you for the love and compassion you’re putting into the world. I love you and Whitney!

  • Man Aubrey, you’re helping me a lot with this. Yet still I have my ego taking over very often. I’m living an open relationship for over a year now and still really have to work on myself. You’re describing the things that I feel a 100% which ultimately helps me to (hopefully) overcome my ego someday but also tells me – I’m not alone.

    I appreciate this! ❤️

  • To understand jealousy, and understand the difference between jealousy and envy, men and women must first have a very secure understanding of their emotions and their own emotional scale. It’s a very few individuals whom even understand the difference between jealousy and envy as they are placed in close proximity to each other on an emotional scale.
    Jealousy comes from a a negative fear based emotional state where envy can actual be a more positive view.
    When I address the desire for something DIFFERENT than my primary partner, I express that I am not searching to fill a DEFICIENCY in my partner not our relationship.
    The gap between those two words is wide enough to envoke vastly different responses.
    Different doesn’t not equate To deficient… just like ENVY does not equate to jealousy.
    If an individual, even an enlightened one, hasn’t discovered what those two words mean,on an emotional scale, they can confuse the negative fear based jealousy with envy.
    I found that as I experienced my partner having more additional
    Lovers and experiences, I was actually envious of the pleasure he was having… or envious that someone else was enjoying him when I would like to enjoy him or her as well.
    Once you can bridge the gap between what jealousy feels like and what envy feels like you can graduated to higher form of acceptance, which is compursion.
    I now take joy and pleasure in hearing about it or seeing my partner have sexual or emotional experiences with his lover. This, to me, is the highest most enlightened level of open relating…

  • Hi Aubrey, I understand this but I don’t understand what would still hold you in this relationship? Like why cling to someone if they are wanting to see other people? Isn’t it better if we let them go and love them from afar? That’s still real love… I’m sure you could continue your amazing life without someone who is wanting to see/fuck someone else… You’re the man bro and I wish I had people like you around me. I watched you’re podcast session with Mehcad Brooks lastnight and thought it was amazing and it’s quite sad that there aren’t alot of people that give like that… I’ve never met one person on that wave… Cheers bro! Tale it easy


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