theferrett @ : Fuck Your Jealousy. Try Mine.
“You used to enjoy having sex with me,” someone says. “Now you’re seeing your new partner all the time, and we haven’t had sex in a month, and I really need a cuddle date. Can we schedule that?”
At which point CAPTAIN ANARCHY leaps out of the closet like a ninja referee to pass judgment on your relationship: “FOUL! FLAGRANT JEALOUSY! TWO POINTS, PLUS THE IMPLICATION THAT MAYBE YOU’RE NOT CUT OUT TO BE POLY!”
Then Captain Anarchy disappears, leaving behind a bunch of snide leaflets on why No True Relationship Feels Jealous.
But that’s not jealousy. That’s “You are no longer doing a thing that used to make me happy, and I would like to open negotiations as to whether I can get that happy experience back.”
You’re not asking because you’re resentful of this new love – you’re asking because you’re no longer getting all the things you require to be satisfied in a relationship. The new lover is the root cause in this instance, but you don’t have to be jealous of them any more than you have to be “jealous” of someone putting in too many hours volunteering for Burning Man or “jealous” of a 70-hour-a-week work schedule.
You do not have to personally loathe everything that’s getting in the way of getting your needs met to say, “Hey, would it be okay if we did this?”
And what Captain Anarchy is trying to do is this spectacularly toxic assholery that tries to shame people into silence for things that should be healthy to ask for.
Look. Relationship Anarchy is a valid approach. But what it does not mean is that you should be a quivering snail, never requesting anything of someone you’re dating, passively accepting whatever some douche of a date chooses to dole out to you.
Because communication is complex! Sometimes the people you’re dating don’t know that doing more of this thing would make you happy, and they’d be thrilled to do more of it! Sometimes your lovers get distracted, and are happy to be refocused!
Never opening up a discussion on What You Need is not a fucking strength. It is a weakness. It presumes your partners have a secret telepathy that tunes them into a full knowledge of what thrills you, and it passes on the toxic idea that actively requesting things that make you happy is somehow a downer to other people.
No. What’s a downer is getting too attached to the answer. It hurts getting an an honest response of “You know, I’m no longer into you sexually, maybe it’s time to move on” – but it saves time. It means you don’t spend months reserving emotional space for someone, hoping wanly that maaaaybe this NRE will wear off and they’ll get back to you. And it means maybe you get an answer of “I don’t want to pull back on this relationship right now, because this is the way I operate, but past history shows I’ll probably return to our old pattern after another month or two – at least until I find someone else.”
It’s fine for them to say that. It’s fine for you to say “yes” or “no” to that pattern. But none of that happens unless you’re willing to open up a discussion without some idiot drive-bying to say “JEALOUSY IS BAAAAADDDDDDD.”
Look. There is jealousy out there, in the sense of “They are taking you away from me and I deserve you.” And that is bad.
But there’s also, “I used to get this thing that made me excited about being in this relationship with you, and I no longer get that.” And in that case, bringing it up isn’t “jealousy” so much as it is saying “I’m with you because you provide certain experiences, and if those experiences are no longer going to be a part of what happens between us, I deserve to know what’s going on so I can make sane decisions as to whether to stay involved with you.”
And sometimes, those experiences are no longer provided to you because this person has decided to give them to another person. Sometimes that can be rectified by saying, “Hey, you know, I miss that.” Sometimes it can’t.
But generally, I find the people who are most enthusiastic about suppressing discussion of What Makes You Happy are trying to quash this discussion because they don’t care what makes you happy. They care about what makes them happy, and when you bring your tiresome ol’ self into the discussion then you’re bringing them down, and why can’t you just shut up and let me do what I want?
To which I’ll go to one of the other definitions of jealousy: “fiercely vigilant of one’s rights.” That kind of jealousy, I can get behind. And one of your rights in a relationship should be to have the information you need to make informed decisions about what you’re willing to do within a relationship.
Anyone who tells you otherwise, well… they’re probably hoping nobody knows too much about what they actually provide.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/535575.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.