Notes from poly-world: The jealousy issue

People are always telling me why they’re not polyamorous. I never ask. I know my lifestyle works for me, I suspect it would work for a lot of other people too but it isn’t my job to evangelise. “Sorry to trouble you on a Saturday afternoon, we’ve come to talk to you about Steve…no he’s not our Lord and saviour, its just he’s very good at oral and we thought perhaps you’d both like to fuck him…”.

There’s actually no need for people to tell me why they’re not poly. If they’re trying to convert me to monogamy it’s not going to happen. Brad Pitt could walk in and offer me a monogamous relationship provided and I would turn him down (I’d humour him for a fortnight first of course, I’m not an idiot).

Perhaps what they’re really saying is “That sounds great but it would be a big change and change is scary and I’m quickly coming up with reasons not to do the scary thing”. That’s understandable.

Either way the number one “reason” is jealousy. So how do I deal with the inevitable rampant jealousy?

Firstly I don’t suffer from it that much. Do I really believe I’m the most attractive woman on earth? Nope. Do I want my partner to ruthlessly, dishonestly, insist that they’ve never found another woman attractive in their whole life? It’s ok thanks.

And what if my partner meets an amazingly beautiful fun interesting woman (or man) who’s interested in him? Do I want to proudly say “I’m the one who got him to turn down that Nobel prize-winning supermodel”? We call it compersion, its the opposite of jealousy. I want my partners to be happy and it doesn’t always have to be me who makes them happy. In fact sometimes I appreciate a night off (isn’t Kimmy Schmidt GENIUS?).

Secondly a lot of what we package as “jealousy” is actually envy. They’re quite different things and learning to identify the difference is powerful. At the end of last year a partner of mine told me he was off to the Christmas markets in Berlin with a woman he dates. I had that feeling, but but but…me?!

But am I really jealous? No. I’m just envious. I don’t want to go instead of her. I just want to go. Its a useful feeling. It’s not jealousy, it’s an emotional notification to add something to my bucket list. I could ask this partner to take me next year. I could arrange to go with another partner. I could even suggest going with them, there’s no rules about twosomes only in Berlin!

But finally is the occasional pang of jealousy really too much to deal with when I consider all the joy and happiness my lifestyle gives me? I’m jealous sometimes. I’m jealous of performers at the fringe with over-hyped shows full of lazy sexist and homophobic jokes getting bigger audiences than me. I don’t stop doing my clever inclusive show though, I don’t give up comedy. Life’s too short to waste it worrying about something as fleeting as a little pang of jealousy.

My show opens on Friday. Put it on your bucket list. Bring as many lovers as you like!

Kate Smurthwaite

Kate Smurthwaite is a feminist, atheist, polyamorous comedian who will be performing at the 2019 Perth Fringe 1st-17th Feb (not Mondays) at Tiki as FK. For full info and tickets please visit Fringe World

Image: Jon Cartwright

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