Yes, that’s a Dune reference and a Fleetwood Mac song title. I never said I was cool.
So, I feel like this is going to be something of an admission, but I’m going to put it out there.
I feel jealousy.
I imagine I feel it with the same intensity as anyone else. In the early days of exploring polyamory, I knew plenty of people who would remark “I never feel jealousy! When I see my partner with another I instead feel compersion.”
Well, I’m very fucking happy for you, but the idea of never feeling jealousy in any level is anathema to me. I’m not saying that I’m constantly mere minutes from enacting violent retribution on all of my metamours (no, really, guys … we cool), but my jealousy is a heckler in a crowded room.
Some days he’s quiet and surly at the back of the room and you barely notice him. Sometimes he’s a loud mouth drunk and raving in the front row and so much harder to ignore. But every time he’s there in some capacity. I do feel this “compersion” that people speak of, but on some level I will more or less always have a jealous reaction too. Sometimes it’s a fragile eidolon of an emotion barely there long enough to be perceived. Sometimes it’s a fist of ice around my heart.
Sounds pretty unpleasant, doesn’t it? So why do I put myself through it? Why choose to put myself in a position that will result in some level of suffering?
My answer is, “because it doesn’t matter! Not a whit!” I don’t act out of anger, I don’t act out of lethargy, I don’t act out of hunger, I don’t act out of pain. Our bodies, over the centuries, have developed a million complicated senses and that’s why we survived. They’re defences. We tell hot and cold when we touch objects that make us more hot or cold. The more it’s going to do that, the less we enjoy the feeling. When something is damaging the meat of our bodies, our bodies give us pain to drive us away from the source of the trauma.
Jealousy is just another signal my brain produces, and I decided a long time ago that I don’t need it. I consider it a vestigial emotion and I imagine it as a throwback to the stereotype of the violent caveman: “Your hold on this woman is challenged! Cave in his skull or he may take her from you! And then how will your seed continue?!”
But I don’t need this useless emotion. Like the coccyx, the appendix, or the wisdom teeth, it’s an atavism, a leftover drive from a darker time, where violence was an everyday tool of survival and civilization was a concept that couldn’t be expressed with the languages of the time.
But it’s there, and it isn’t comfortable.
I’m not meaning to sound like I conquered it; I just decided that I don’t want jealousy to motivate my decisions. That isn’t the kind of fight you win — you just win each round, knowing you’ll have to put your fists up again later. But it certainly gets easier the more you do it.
I have my wife M. and I love her dearly. When we first started dating we were polyamorous, and some days my jealousy could be palpable, but I was always knew it was my problem to deal with and not hers. We’ve been married a year and a half today, and our love is strong as can be. The heckler is a tiny voice drowned out in a sea of well wishers… but he’s there.
Doe lives 200 miles away, we rarely get to interact without the Internet as our medium, and she likes to post evocative pictures of herself to the Internet and some days the complimentary posts from faceless boys on the Internet can annoy me on some base competitive level. But she means as much to me as I do to her, and I’d never restrain her.
Jane and I have only been involved for 2 months, but it’s been intense. We’re using words like love, and meaning it. Jane has several partners and one very serious one that isn’t me, but meeting my metamours in this branch hasn’t been a challenge, as Jane has impeccable taste. And when she’s visiting a partner in another state and tells me she’s jumping offline to go make a boy very lucky, I’ll tell her to give him a high five from me when they’re done, and I’ll mean it… but he’s there, that heckler, in the back of that auditorium somewhere. He’ll never completely shut up.
I don’t want it to sound like my life is a constant struggle to keep myself from anger or black moods, my life is (to borrow a term) blessed. I have multiple women who love me, and I love them right back.
This is the life I chose and I regret not a damn thing.