The most misunderstood word in the world is ‘Love’.
It’s used in a myriad of contexts to refer to chocolate, God and family. But often what we call Love is an umbrella of emotions which include (at least) possession and need.
This bag of emotions is difficult to disentangle… but it should at least be clear theoretically that possession and need are the antithesis of love. Love blossoms best when surrounded by trust and freedom (which are also misunderstood words).
In a polyamorous open relationship the parties agree to set up a structure which encourages love and growth with multiple partners. But often participants don’t understand that what they call “love” by definition already disencourages this. You are not to blame for this. Our society and our minds have defined love falsely a long time ago. The only way we ‘know’ love is by feeling it. Indeed, when as teenagers we ask – how do you know when you are in love? You will most often receive the answer
‘You will know it when you feel it.’
Not so helpful.
So first you will feel an incredibly expansive feeling for someone. It will make you feel like you are flying. Then almost immediately you think that your life will be greatly diminished if you lose what you have only just gained. Because the crazy high is so enjoyable, you become addicted to it; dependent on it. You think that the person who you love is the source of it. You need them to be able to feel it. Lo and behold, you think that everything you are feeling is love and that love is also possession and need.
It is not love which creates desperate jealousy. Love cannot do this. It is the fear of losing the love; the need, which creates jealousy. You think you ‘need’ this person to feel love. It’s not true. You do of course need relationships. But Love can be created everywhere.
Usually however when you create one instance of love, you stop creating and cling on to what you have created making it into a ‘scarce’ resource it isn’t. You lose your life as it was and channel all your energies into trying to preserve what you have, and by doing so kill it…
At the beginning of our relationship I said
“I can deal with anything if you’re honest with me”
I was immediately reminded me of my mother. She wasn’t being honest when she said it. She, like the rest of the world, preferred the white lies. It meant that life was easier to swallow. But I thought I could handle it.
Then after 7 months of flying together during a difficult conversation you said.
“I imagined a future without you…and it wasn’t unattractive.”
I was taken aback. It’s not a line that belongs to Disney. And yet your truth set me me free. I was flooded with intense and amazing emotion. Love. It meant you weren’t dependent on me for your happiness. You really didn’t need me. That’s when I knew our relationship was for the long haul. And also that you truly loved me.
If you feel jealousy, it means that you also feel need and possession. Accept this. The difficulty is eradicating it. The only way you know you have eradicated it is if you stop feeling jealous… which presents a problem.
In your head because need is so strongly associated with love, to stop needing someone also means to stop loving someone. And you don’t want that. You will fight hard to keep ‘needing’ someone because it is what you think love is. But I want you to know that even if you think that your love will be diminished if you take away the need, it won’t be.
You will see clearly whether you actually love that person…or whether there is really very little love and you only need them. Because yes, there is a risk. If you don’t actually ‘love’ that person, if your love was predominantly ‘need’ to begin with, then yes you will stop ‘loving’ that person. You will know whether you truly love those you think you do. This is the price you pay to escape the nightmare.
Hollywood considers love to be pure destruction. If this is not what you want, then only you can change it. I follow 3 simple rules to deal with my jealousy. (Simple, I said, not easy).
- Consider the person you are with as a free agent already. Believe it.
Because they are. I’ve read in so many polyamorous forums about rules that couples put in place to support their possession.
“Don’t take her here, because that’s our special place.”
This is couple privilege pure and simple. These are rules based on fear.
Be amazingly appreciative of the time they choose to spend with you. Of the flying you do together. It’s not important where this happens. Stop thinking that you possess them, that you can control them…because you cannot.
- Keep telling yourself that your life will not be less if this person leaves. Tell yourself until you truly believe it. (Clue, if you still feel jealousy you do NOT believe it).
It’s tricky. But it entails not investing everything in this person (something which is practically advised in monogamy). It entails preserving a good sense of self. Your life will be different without them, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t have to be worse (unless you want it to be).
Every single event in this world can be framed as an opportunity. Every single one. You and only you can frame it like this. Chances are that this person will remain in your life in some capacity. And if you do love this person, you also realise that their life is their own to direct and live (with or without you).
- Embrace the new paradigm of your relationship, Understand that it is wonderful.
It’s love Jim, but not as we know it. Don’t be afraid to grieve what you had because it’s hard saying goodbye to the known. It’s hard saying goodbye to monogamy. You will experience sadness of course. The loss of expectations and the loss of what you knew. Be kind to each other, it’s not easy to shift your world and constantly create your relationships in the now, without expectation, without assumption and without possession.
But you will find eventually that it’s like feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin after years in the darkness.
Even so, it took you months to admit you loved me. And then you said
‘I don’t believe in the word love. What I feel for you doesn’t seem to match up to how they define love. Love is nothing in comparison.’
‘Of course it’s love,’ I replied. That is what love is. It’s love blossoming with trust. With freedom. It’s love free from possession and need.
It’s not that it wouldn’t hurt if our relationship changed. I would grieve. But even whilst I grieved, I’d also be happy in my heart to watch you fly without me.