Jealousy, Neglect and Betrayal
Psychologists say that "anger is not an emotion". It is a self-defense mechanism that masks other emotions (usually fear or sadness).
Jealousy Neglect and Betrayal due to their ability to cause similar fear and feelings of rejection, are often hard for people to differentiate. In the lifestyle it becomes vital to develop the skills to handle each in their own way.
A basic simple way to consider it though for lifestyle couples:
- Jealousy is me
- Neglect is resolved as a team
- Betrayal is you
Jealousy speaks from a selfish place of "why not me". While I deliberately don't speak in absolutes, I do believe that jealousy is always a toxic emotion in a relationship when it is blamed on the "other". In all things in life reacting to jealousy with anger will result in negative outcomes, resentment, feelings of being trapped and feelings of a partner acting like you are a possession.
"Love and possession are the only opposites in the universe people often mistake for one another" - Buddha
To overcome fears and doubts it is imperative to openly discuss fear with your partner without anger or blame, and also on the other side without fear your partner will not affirm your concerns.
Jealousy can end monogamous relationships as fast and as sure as infidelity... Especially if it is expressed towards a faithful partner who is committed. This notion that when you find the right person, all others cease to be appealing is a ridiculous myth, and it is an entirely unrealistic ideal. While I can only speak for my own lizard brain desire to soak every hot ass I see with baby batter, I can say that for both sexes pretending that our primal sexual impulses don't exist, can fracture trust in a relationship as much as it can be fractured by cheating. What we learn quickly in the lifestyle is that betrayal isn't about the act of sex, it's about breaking the promise of faithfulness.
Faithfulness has nothing to do with where a penis goes and becomes far more important in the lifestyle, due to the vulnerable position we openly place ourselves in together.
Jealously projected on your partner devalues their faithfulness and discounts their morality. To me unfaithful people are at the bottom of the rung of human scum.
However, in unconditionally loving relationships I also feel it imperative to recognize you don't own your spouse.
Jealousy is fear of betrayal when there was none. It can come from projecting your own doubts about the relationship on your partner. It can be the PTSD of previous infidelity with a former partner. More often it is a projection of your own insecurities surrounding your imperfections, those parts of you that you hide from your partner in an unhealthy way due to fears of rejection, and the flaws that you don't see in others. Those emotions can form a self-fulfilling prophecy by making you less attractive, approachable, desirable, and alienating your partner from you.
Jealousy expressed as the fault of your partner creates a space between you that can only grow larger. Jealousy expressed as anger will undoubtedly result in your partner hiding things from you. These things they hide are innocent, but out of fear of your wrath, fear that you will take an innocent act as a sign of their desire to cheat, they will begin to sneak innocent behaviors past you. This leads to farther controlling behaviors (snooping on their phone, stalking their social media) This will lead to more lies and secrets... Which in the end, devolves into the feeling of infidelity even if none took place. Possibly, a lover becomes so exhausted with being blamed and accused they will even say "fuck it, it I'm going to be punished for it, I might as well do it".
Equally importantly, we are attracted to confidence, independence, strength and resilience. People who come off as insecure, needy, or as though they think they own you, will slowly make themselves much less attractive... these people who blame you for their doubt and insecurity will then cling on tighter and close your world until they feel you are contained from outside threats to their ownership of you. They create a virtual cage that you are placed in, and then they expect you not to want to get out!
When that door closes to a safe space for you both but is left unlocked, that space of "just us" becomes a haven for you to feel at home, let down your guard, heal from past pain, be shamelessly honest with your partner about fantasy, fetish, desire, lust, and sometimes even needs that the relationship does not fulfill on its own.
When you are in a committed relationship this kind of honesty about your needs, desires, and fantasies is vital regardless of your lifestyle to keep the relationship honest, healthy and most importantly sensual and exciting.
Your jealousy is not your partner's fault, nor is it their responsibility to correct themselves so that you feel better. However, in a committed relationship, I do believe we are all responsible to provide comfort when our spouse is afraid.
We must however learn to differentiate between neglect, betrayal, and jealousy. Betrayal is when someone lies to you and breaks a vow. It has nothing to do with rubbing body parts on another person unless that was the promise you made. Slippery friction causing orgasms is not what physically hurts your partner in any way. The betrayal comes in breaking a promise, keeping secrets, and lying. Unrestrained truth is the key to a healthy relationship that doesn't allow betrayal in. Once someone is truly betrayed (not the constant eggshells of hiding things from a jealous partner in self-defense... but truly betrayed) I strongly believe there is no way to put the pieces back together. It is like smashing a glass plate on the floor, and trying to glue it back together again... It's never going to be whole.
Neglect is when your partner feels alone. This is when you get excited and forget that they have needs that should be met first, needs that should be your passion, and inspire your compassion, especially when those needs were discussed and agreed upon as rational and valid. No one can dive into the deep end of vulnerability (which the lifestyle very much is), with no experience, and expect not to feel at least a little scared. The worst thing that can happen in that deep end, is to be both scared, and feel alone. When I talk of neglect, I am speaking to someone feels put aside or left out, or worse left to defend themselves alone from unwanted and uninvited contact.
Some may believe that the lifestyle improves or eliminates the issues of betrayal... This is true if you are honest and agree on what is okay and what isn't, and neither breaks those agreements. Some believe it should eliminate jealousy, and for many healthy couples with good communication and empathy, this is very much true. The lifestyle allows you to have your pussy and eat it too... It is a world where you get to enjoy the excitement of endless new sex, excited and charged environments and amazing social momentum flying towards erotica... while you have all the benefits of home, and the passion and intimacy that comes with love and true connection.
However, for some couples the lifestyle can lead to the opposite of the best of both worlds and instead provide the worst.
Something to definitely keep in mind, for everyone, (yes everyone) is that in the lifestyle the feelings of neglect are going to creep up on all of us once in a while, and the cure for that feeling is immediate communication. Don't cover it up, don't let it go, don't wait until tomorrow, don’t hide it, don't bottle it up, don't sit in a corner and wait it out. If you are the partner of someone who feels neglected, don't belittle those emotions or respond with anger even if it means pulling a great penis out of you and going home. There is always more sex, there is only one person that truly needs your presence in those moments. There is some give and take in this life; your partner should not feel left out or left alone unless that was the agreed upon plan in the first place.
The lifestyle has many types of couples, some of them are compensating, some are selfish, some believe they own their spouses but want to fuck other people... Most though, are there for a good laugh and rubbing body parts together and going home with the person they love. There is no one right way to do that. How it's done is for each couple to decide on their own... But jealousy plagues the community because there is definitely a wrong way to do it, a toxic way to do it that causes issues and discomfort for couples who are doing things "right" for them... It doesn't come from someone fucking your wife, it comes from someone not being honest or having double standards, who uses you to break their own rules, making you feel like they pulled you into infidelity when it wasn't a game you are willing to play, or putting you at the center of some deep explosive issue they pretend not to have. Jealousy can destroy a good time very fast and even cause problems for couples who had nothing to do with it, who go home feeling violated or guilty. For example, the "girl-girl-only" couple with a guy who tries to slip a finger into your wife under the table at dinner. That is betrayal not swinging… the lifestyle is never a loophole that allows you to be unfaithful, and I personally would out them at the table immediately to their spouse.
When you recognize jealousy is internal to you... The "solution" is acceptance. Then communication, safe words, check-ins. Being present with your spouse in those moments, and making sure you and they are okay, while knowing it isn't their fault or yours. We don't control our emotions; we control our response to it... Swinging is boot camp for dealing with insecurities... When that journey it's approached as something to embrace and analyze within yourself it can be life changing in a very positive way. The existential question of "Why am I afraid?" is the strongest catalyst for self-awareness and self-improvement you can find... only when you learn to run towards fear and doubt rather than away from it. So don’t “get rid of jealousy”, embrace it and explore it, allow yourself to feel it. If you can, go deeper than that, and find the source... and when you find it, love yourself and let it go so you can heal from it. This is how lifestyle couples can often find a happiness, honesty, security and intimacy that monogamous couples can only pretend to have.
Contributed by Shona & Simon Sherr