I know that my partner loves me very much.
I know from how they cuddle up to me every night as I fall asleep. I know from how they tenderly kiss me awake every morning. I know from how they help me pick out clothes on days that I feel particularly dysphoric. I know from how they constantly tell me how proud they are of me about everything from doing something cool in a video game to achieving a goal I’ve been working toward.
Yet there have still been times when I have felt so insecure about myself that it manifests as jealousy, irritability, self-isolation, co-dependancy, and even a drop in sex drive. This especially comes into play with our non-monogamy in that when I am feeling particularly insecure I often become jealous or worried about the people my partner is flirting with, or sexting with, or sending nudes too, despite previously consenting to those non-monogamous boundaries and activities. Vulnerability tends to pull those feelings and fears out at times.
However, while those emotions, and the insecurity that led to them, are valid it is important not to project those struggles unfairly onto my partner.
So, how do I deal? Well, here are 4 practices that I have found most effective in facing my insecurities or feelings of jealousy in a healthy way:
Tip #1: Talk About It
Yep! While it is true that communication and honesty is important to any form of relationship, it is arguably even MORE important in non-monogamous ones given the emotional, physical, and sexual complexities at play with multiple autonomous individuals to consider. So, if you have the capacity for it, talk about your jealousy. Acknowledge it and work through it with your partner(s).
Of course, that’s often easier said than done for many. Things such as anxiety and depression are perfectly valid reasons for why bringing up these conversations can be especially difficult. However, I’m still a big advocate of talking things through, when possible.
Not only will doing so allow you to unpack what is really behind those jealous feelings but sharing in that process with your partner(s) and/or lover(s) is great way at reaffirming trust, honesty, and communication.
Tip #2: Re-asses Your Boundaries Often
Regardless of the structure of your non-monogamous relationship(s), boundaries play a very, very important role in ensuring that everyone involved feels comfortable, safe, and respected. In monogamous relationships, boundaries tend to revolve around two individuals committed to exclusive emotional, romantic, and sexual bonds with each other. In non-monogamous relationships, boundaries aren’t always so straightforward.
Maybe it was agreed that non-monogamy for you and your partner meant just having the occasional threesome. Maybe it means that sharing nudes and sexting with friends and/or strangers online is cool. Maybe it means that oral sex with others is cool, but penetrative sex is off the table. Maybe it means that either of you can have sex with whoever you like, however you like, but you remain emotionally monogamous with only each other. Or maybe non-monogamy for you is a complex series of emotional and/or sexual relationships with people who you may or may not live with, perhaps not even within the same city.
When relationship boundaries are crossed, like your partner having sex with your friend while you were at work even though you both expressly agreed to not have sex without you both being present, then this naturally makes people feel jealous because of actions that challenged their comfort or safety.
If you feel that a boundary has been crossed, whatever that boundary may have been, it is of the utmost importance that a conversation about that occurs with your partner(s) as soon as possible! During said convo be sure to assess if everyone’s sexual or romantic needs have changed and, if so, do your relationship boundaries need to be re-considered.
NOTE: There is a very big difference between re-thinking relationship boundaries with your partner(s) vs. feeling pressured into agreeing with boundaries that make you feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and/or disregarded.
Tip #3: Prioritize Self-Care When Needed
As a chubby, hairy, queer, proudly non-passing androbabe [who sometimes just identifies as “trans”, or, non-binary, for the convenience of cis people], I struggle a lot with feeling attractive in a world that constantly works to blatantly affirm that anyone visibly trans or queer is disgusting and abnormal. Sounds harsh, but it’s true and one need not look much further than the past 25-years of blatant transphobia in film or even most of those “cringe compilation” videos all over YouTube that almost always present queer and trans peeps through a derogatory lens.
So yeah, it gets to people over time. I know it has for me, and there have absolutely been periods where I have internalized hateful public discourse about queer and trans folk to the point where it has made me feel incredibly insecure within my relationship. All sort of emotional responses can come from those insecurities and fears, from expressions of jealousy or dependency to irritability or anger.
That’s why it’s SUPER important to practice self-care on a regular basis. Be it reading a good book, having long baths, playing video games, listening to music, going for a walk, watching movies, watching porn, masturbating with your favorite toy (or your hands), hanging out at home naked, whatever, make sure to allow time for yourself to look after your own needs.
You deserve it, and you’re worth it.
Tip #4: Take a Social Media Break
Coming directly out of the last tip: for any queer and trans folk who have spent substantial time online, reading the news, reading comments sections, following social activists of any kind, they’ll likely have some pretty rough stories to tell you about the anti-queer and anti-trans harassment, threats, hate speech, and general degradation they have likely both witnessed and been the target of themselves.
Transphobia and queerphobia remain extremely pronounced, and particularly vitriolic, not only across social media platforms but also within general public discourse, and especially politic heavy environments, on a whole. In this alt-right, neo-fascist, culturally regressive era of Trump it is an especially difficult time for marginalized folk as blatant bigotry and hate speech has once again become socially acceptable.
It’s an extremely well documented fact that individuals constantly exposed to hateful rhetoric, degrading comments, and negative perceptions of individuals such as themselves, tend to internalize it all. You hear so many people saying awful things about your sexuality, or your gender identity, and after hearing it for so long it has a nasty habit of burrowing inside you and rotting.
But let me tell you this: they’re NOT true. You’re not any of the things that ignorant bigots, hateful politicians, and faceless internet trolls say you are. Fuck ’em.
And if you need to take a break from it all, be it just for a few days, or a week, or even a month, then please do not hesitate to do so. Your true friends will keep in touch with you through this time and all your online connections will likely be there when you return. Unplugging for your mental wellness is valid.
So, how about the rest of you out there, what things have you found helpful in addressing insecurities or feelings of jealousy in your relationship(s)?