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.