A while back, I had to face my insecurities when my husband gave a massage to someone without checking in with me first. Well, it happened again. Except this time, he was the one being massaged.
After coming home from a recent massage therapy session, Dan told me that when the therapist was massaging his thighs, he got excited. As in visibly excited. As in hard. And the therapist noticed it and started flirting with him.
My mind immediately went into panic mode. A massage with a happy ending is one of my sexual fantasies. And here he is — almost living it! MY fantasy! Not with ME! What if there is no “almost” next time he sees her?
I started imagining possibilities of what would happen at Dan’s next massage. Instead of making me shake with excitement, these fantasies made me want to curl into a ball and cry. Where was my compersion when I needed it most?
I told Dan about what I was feeling and how surprised and disappointed I was by my reaction. I thought of myself as a more open-minded person. All he did was share how his body reacted to a groin massage, which made total sense. Why was I so upset?
My husband reminded me how happy he was to be with me and that he had no plans to run away with his massage therapist. It made me feel better. We discussed my feelings and fears a bit more and closed the topic.
A few days passed, and as we were about to get down and dirty, I invited Dan to share his most recent fantasy.
“A threesome with you and my massage therapist,” he blurted out.
“Oh,” I said.
I froze. My frisky mood evaporated. I stared at him.
This time, the trigger went deeper. Not only did his body have a purely physiological reaction to groin area stimulation, but he fantasized about her, too.
My brain started serving me scenarios one after another. Here is my husband at his next massage appointment with the masseuse sitting on top of him. In the next scene, they are having sex on the floor next to the massage table. Here they are on a dinner date. In the next scene, they are on a ship sailing away into the sunset. Forever.
All of these images flashed in front of my eyes in a millisecond. Again, Dan told me how much he loved me and how he wanted to be married to me, not to the massage therapist.
I understood his words and knew he loved me, but my emotions weren’t aligned with my brain. I was jealous. Or was I envious of Dan's experience? According to Anna of the ENM blog, jealousy and envy are quite different. What I was experiencing was something else, though. But as I continued to process my feelings, I realized I needed validation. I needed to know that what I was feeling was acceptable. I wanted Dan to give it to me, but I knew it was me who had to accept my green-eyed monster. I was the one who needed to be okay with feeling insecure. I was the one who needed to comfort me.
I told Dan what my biggest fear was: that, over time, he would fall in love with the massage therapist and leave me and the kids.
He told me his moral principles and love for me wouldn’t allow that. Even if he developed feelings for someone else (massage therapist or not) — that wouldn’t mean he would stop loving me. And it wouldn’t mean he would want to leave me. Because I am unique and extraordinary, and no one else in the world would be a better match for him.
Was he right? Do the feelings of attraction toward others come and go that easily? At first, I was skeptical. But as I thought about it, I realized how true it was. I recalled all the times I had been infatuated with someone, only for those feelings to disappear.
Dan made a good point: we choose to be with each other despite the occasional attraction to others. It was comforting to know that those passing feelings didn’t mean anything in the grand scheme. It made me think about the power of choice in relationships. We have the power to choose who we want to be with, and that choice is what truly matters. And even if someone else comes along, it doesn’t mean we would choose them over our current partner. Our love and commitment to each other are what ultimately keeps us together.
There is a difference between fantasy and reality. It’s absolutely normal to feel attracted to people other than our primary partner and fantasize about them. What we do next is a true test of ethics. The majority of the people in monogamous relationships do nothing. They don’t discuss these feelings with their partners, nor do they act on their urges. Some percentage of folks decide to pursue the object of their desire behind their partner’s back. That’s cheating unless they’ve previously agreed on a “don’t ask — don’t tell” approach to managing these situations. An even smaller percentage come to their partner to discuss these feelings.
It’s quite a different story when you are poly. The expectation is to keep your partner(s) in the know about your feelings toward others. At least, that’s how it was during my poly days. Ethical non-monogamous relationships get jeopardized if these feelings are not brought to light and openly discussed.
It would be fantastic if it were the same for monogamous couples as well. Being honest with your partner creates a profound level of intimacy and trust. Dan trusted me enough to tell me about an intimate moment he experienced with someone else. Furthermore, he thought I would be open to hearing about his fantasy because I invited him to share. Looking back, I see that my reaction was disproportionate. The amount of pain I felt would make more sense if his massage did actually have a happy ending. We had plenty of situations in the past where I was absolutely fine, even joyful with him in similar situations. Neither of us could have predicted my response, but that doesn’t mean it would have been better if he stayed quiet.
Because we went through this experience, our connection is stronger now. Dan managed to stay with me in my pain, hold space for me, comfort me, and help me get through it. It made me appreciate him even more.
It’s not easy when the green-eyed monster or other insecurities show up. But when they do, we can lean into our weaknesses, see ourselves more clearly, and face our shadows and neglected parts. If we have a supportive partner by our side, it makes this process a bit easier. And even if we don’t, if we dare to look deeper, to give space to the most difficult of our emotions, we come out stronger on the other side.
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.