jealousy and poly

Why You Get Jealous in Non-Monogamy

jealous in open relationships.jpg

In ten years working with jealousy in relationships I've seen a lot of folks through the shadowy sides of envy, insecurity, and fear.  No two experiences look the same, and yet there are a lot of clear themes.  

Lots of people want to figure out why they're jealous.  If you notice yourself wondering, I urge you to ask only with compassion.  All too often we ask why looking to pathologize, judge, or fix.  Instead, I suggest asking more compassionately:

  • What is my jealousy trying to teach me?
  • What does my jealousy want to know?
  • What does jealousy want to know?
  • What would bring me security or reassurance in this moment?
  • What does meaningful support look like in this moment? 
  • What other emotions travel alongside my jealousy? (anxiety, fear, envy, admiration, lonliness, grief, and anger are common buddies of jealousy) What do each of them want from this situation?
  • If my jealousy wasn't present how would I be different?
  • What is my jealousy hoping for?

WHen you have time to sit and interview your unique experience of jealousy, there's likely a lot to learn about yourself, your needs, and your relationship from the interview.  Often folks find out the intentions behind their jealousy are:

  • I want to feel special
  • I envy the desire I see in someone else
  • I want to know I am a priority in my someone's life
  • I want more fun/spontaneity/play/sex/curiosity/connection in our partnership
  • I envy the learning/self-awareness my partner is getting right now because I want some of my own
  • There are thing's I want to change about my own self-care
  • I want to spend more time investing in my own desires and passions
  • I want my partner and me to invest more time in each other
  • I need to get out more
  • I've experienced broken trust in this relationship, and I'd like attention to repair it
  • I realize I need a richer social life
  • I'm holding old resentments I haven't shared with my partner
  • I'd like to take better care of my body
  • I crave adventure
  • I really like this relationship and I don't want to lose it
  • I've grown dependent on this partner to meet a lot of my needs, I'd like to foster more friendships/relationships of my own
  • I want more close friends
  • There are parts of my relationship history I need to work on to resolve
  • There are things my family taught me about relationships I want to work on in therapy/coaching

If you'd like help sitting with jealousy and insecurity to learn from it please give me a call.  I'm always here to help.

Two Kinds of Jealousy

Kinds of Jealousy | uncommon Love Open Marriage Counseling in Portland

The most common question I get (as a therapist who works with open relationships and non-monogamous marriages) is how I help people work through jealousy.  

Although jealousy takes many forms in these diverse relationships, there are two sources driving most of our conversations on the topic.

Most of the time, jealousy is based in fear.  It is an incredibly common emotion, and is important to acknowledge as a natural and healthy occurrence- when handled with integrity. However, when jealousy gets out of hand, it can be incredibly destructive to the foundation of any marriage or partnership.

All too often jealousy results in worried and distrustful behaviors (like snooping, spying, and interrogating).  It seems to impact relationships regardless of demographic- everyone experiences some bitter envy from time to time.

The first kind of jealousy worth noting is reactive.  

Reactive jealousy happens when you are experiencing an actual threat to your relationship.

Reactive jealousy is painful, but due to its specific focus, it can appear easier to problem solve (by addressing the threat openly, and lovingly).

On the other hand, suspicious jealousy can be very difficult to resolve.  Suspicious jealousy is not based in fact or evidence, no commitments have been broken and the relationship isn't at risk.  

Instead of being driven by a real threat, suspicious jealousy originates in one partner's insecurities.

Insecurity can come from any number of life experiences or current situations in a partner's life and in the course of a relationship it is only natural either partner will feel some insecurity rise from time to time.  Regardless of its cause, insecurity, it is important the couple work together to prevent damage that can be caused by this kind of jealousy.

Here are a couple simple but effective strategies you can work on when the green-eyed monster attacks your relationship.  

If you want help moving past jealousy in your relationship call me for a free consultation to see fi I can assist you.


poly counselor | polyamory couples counseling | open relationship threapist

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).