Embarking on the journey of polyamory was, for me, an exploration of love’s limitless potential. The philosophical underpinnings of polyamory — openness, honesty, and the freedom to form intimate connections with multiple people — resonated deeply with my personal beliefs about love and relationships. After my poly relationship “experiment” failed, I rationalized that the main reason polyamory didn’t work for me was the inability to balance the need for privacy in each relationship and the depth of a truly meaningful connection. Looking back now, I can say with certainty that it sure played a role. But it wasn’t the main reason I gave up the poly lifestyle.
I hate to admit this, but polyamory didn’t work for me, mainly because of jealousy.
Jealousy is a multifaceted emotion, a tempestuous blend of insecurity, possessiveness, envy, and fear. While I genuinely believed in my capacity to love multiple people and accepted that my husband could, too, the visceral reaction I felt at the thought of him with someone else was overwhelming. I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to feel it. Yet, whenever he would bring up the topic of other people, my heart would start pounding, my palms — sweating, and my mind — racing.
In polyamorous communities, there’s a term called “compersion.” It’s often described as the opposite of jealousy, a feeling of joy one experiences when seeing one’s partner happy with another person. It’s a beautiful sentiment, and in my heart of hearts, I yearned to embody it fully. I wanted to rejoice in my husband’s happiness and take comfort in the knowledge that his love for someone else didn’t diminish his love for me. But every time I tried to embrace compersion, jealousy reared its persistent head, casting a shadow over my aspirations. My jealousy was my own, stemming from deeply rooted insecurities and a lifetime of societal conditioning that equates exclusivity with love’s truest form.
When my husband brought up even a hint of his interest in others, my imagination would spiral, painting vivid images and concocting stories that made me cringe. The shared jokes I wasn’t a part of, the intimate moments I wasn’t privy to, the whispered secrets in the dead of night — all these thoughts became a recurring narrative in my mind, each one stinging like salt in a fresh wound.
My reaction wasn’t a reflection of my husband’s actions. He was always transparent, respectful, and loving. My jealousy was my own, stemming from deeply rooted insecurities and a lifetime of societal conditioning that equates exclusivity with love’s truest form. When I think of my husband choosing to be with someone else over me, my soul contorts in pain. I start feeling like I’m five years old, curled up in a ball in a dark corner of my soul. A child who is utterly and completely alone, abandoned by the world, and whose needs are unimportant.
In conversations with friends and fellow polyamory explorers, I often heard stories of how confronting jealousy head-on led to profound personal growth. They spoke of it as a mirror, reflecting back areas of insecurity and providing an opportunity for healing and development. And while I respect and admire their journeys, I had to come to terms with the fact that, for me, the emotional turmoil was too high a price to pay, and not for the lack of trying. Oh, the things I’ve done to try to work through that trauma… I have attempted to deal with my insecurities in therapy, multiple forms of it. I hired a sex coach, and I drank ayahuasca.
While polyamory offers a beautiful landscape of connection and love for many, my journey made it evident that it’s not for everyone — and that’s okay. After seeing me suffer like that every time the subject came up, my husband let go of the idea. For now. We agreed to revisit it if I ever work through my traumas and shadows.
While polyamory offers a beautiful landscape of connection and love for many, my journey made it evident that it’s not for everyone — and that’s okay. Relationships, in all their myriad forms, should be a reflection of mutual understanding, respect, and comfort. For now, I’m content with the knowledge that I tried, I learned, and I grew. And that, in itself, is a journey worth celebrating.
Check out my author page on Amazon and read my book — “My Journey To Polyamory And Back: How I Fell In Love With Myself By Experimenting With Non-monogamy, Healing Ceremonies, and Psychedelics” to learn more about my growth path.