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Jealousy from the other side.
November 28, 2012 4:23 PM   Subscribe

How to deal with jealousy from other men in my open relationship?

My husband and I have an open relationship. I enjoy seeing other men but I've started to become weary of a pattern that I'm not sure how to deal with. The men I see will, more often than not, end up falling in love with me and want me for themselves. They know I'm married and happily so. I've done nothing to lead them on to think that I would run off with them. Some of the time they will just tell me their feelings and we can still carry on with a physical and friendly relationship. More recently, though, I've been dealing with some unhealthy jealousy on the man's part that has been extremely frustrating and has brought me to the point of taking a break from seeing other men for the time being.

It's like every so often I'll meet someone who is very into me but seems to be angered by the fact that I see other men and am happily married. For example there is one man who I'm good friends with and get on with very well. He's a well-adjusted kind man but sometimes he will express jealousy over my husband and tell me things like he wishes I would divorce my husband and be with him. Just the other day, a man I've been good friends with pretty much went off the rails and treated me awfully, then later texted me apologies and confessions that he is in love with me and just wants me for himself. That scared me and since I know others have these feelings for me, now I'm hesitant to carry on with those people in case they go nuts like the last guy did.

As for myself and my husband, we work so well together because we have incredible trust and zero jealousy. I'm just confused as to what to do with the jealousy I experience from other men and whether or not this is a common occurrence for people in open relationships.

Thanks in advance.

Email: openjealousy@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
These men are not being respectful of your relationship with your husband and you need to break things off with them.
posted by chrchr at 4:28 PM on November 28, 2012 [25 favorites]


I know a woman in an open relationship and it's common for her. It's also common for her husband (who dates other women). Maybe it's that you're with guys who are "really into you," instead of like, more casual and friendly about sharing a sexual relationship? Like can you tell at the beginning that certain guys are really, really into you, and it feels like it might not go well, or do you pretty much only date guys with that level of interest, some of who are more capable of giving you space?
posted by stoneandstar at 4:28 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can only be in an open relationship with people who are also in an open relationship.
posted by moammargaret at 4:33 PM on November 28, 2012 [16 favorites]


Do all of these guys not have a regular primary partner already? It sounds like the sorts of guys you need to date are ones who aren't looking for a #1 in their lives, especially when you want them as a secondary.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:51 PM on November 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


It definitely helps to date someone who is either in an open relationship, or has been. The other thing I get is guys who don't want a serious relationship and are convinced I'm going to leave my boyfriend for them.
posted by herbaliser at 4:59 PM on November 28, 2012


This sounds like the inverse of women who date playboys and are disappointed when the guys move on or cheat. They thought they'd be able to tame him. In other words, assuming you're honest w/these guys, it's not you it's them. Even so you might develop your radar for this stuff if you are more explicit up front and check in a little sooner. And be safe!
posted by headnsouth at 5:32 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've done nothing to lead them on to think that I would run off with them.

Aside from dating, flirting, and having sex with them, you mean?

The vast, vast, vast majority of people are simply not emotionally OK with open relationships. When you start a relationship with just about anyone, it will be extraordinarily rare that, just by chance, they happen to be one of those extremely rare people who can make an open relationship work, let alone one who actually wants an open relationship and maintains that desire for openness even through all the emotional phases of a relationship as it blossoms and grows.
posted by The World Famous at 5:40 PM on November 28, 2012 [19 favorites]


I've done nothing to lead them on to think that I would run off with them.

Aside from dating, flirting, and having sex with them, you mean?

How about reserving that level of judgment for the men who think they can change her mind, and are clearly disrespecting her well-established boundaries?

OP, agreed that dating other guys who are already in primary relationships would probably work better for you than dating single men who a) may have no experience in poly relationships and/or b) think that you don't really know what you want and they can show you what you really need.
posted by Angharad at 5:51 PM on November 28, 2012 [14 favorites]


The vast, vast, vast majority of people are simply not emotionally OK with open relationships.

Yeah, while I've never been in an open relationship myself, OP is being perfectly upfront & honest with the men: they ought to know the score and if they can't handle it, they should have not gotten involved in the first place. It's definitely these men's problems that they can't accept that. They should gracefully let go when they realize that OP's husband is #1; barring that, OP needs to break off the relationship if these men can't respect that.

I think that this situation will always be a risk, but focusing on guys who already have another partner or partners in the mix would probably help.
posted by smirkette at 6:22 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've done nothing to lead them on to think that I would run off with them.

Aside from dating, flirting, and having sex with them, you mean?


Not everyone is cut out for open relationships but don't know that until they're emotionally involved. (Because most people aren't OK with it.) These men may have entered into it with the idea of no strings attached sex, yay me, and not expected to fall for you. Your boundaries should obviously be respected but people don't always handle being second fiddle to someone they love very well. It's a painful position to be in.

You might want to stick to people who have been/are in open relationships and have the emotional fortitude to deal with it better.
posted by shoesietart at 6:36 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Answer the question please, don't debate open relationships. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:49 PM on November 28, 2012


You are going to have to be quite careful and negotiate boundaries with these people and ask whether they can actually handle it.

More importantly, you'll have to dump them once they act this way.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:51 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who's been the inexperienced-but-thought-I-could-handle-it turned crazy jealous partner (note, not explicitly secondary, just one of several partners), I would have been enormously grateful if the guy had broken up with me once the crazy jealous part appeared. Not my finer moments in that situation, and not the bravest or most self-responsible sentiment for sure. But I had gotten in over my head, and wasn't ready to deny myself the relationship, and kept alternating between trying to fix myself by reading books about how jealousy isn't a real emotion, sobbing hysterically in the bathtub, and screaming at him that he couldn't possibly love me if he still wanted to be with other people. In other words, I wasn't in a great headspace to do the thing that clearly needed to be done, which was to call it off and cut off contact.

If I'm reading your tone right and you're coming to this with an attitude that these are basically people who you otherwise like and respect, and you just want to solve the problem, then in my experience putting them out of their misery would be a kind and compassionate thing to do. YMMV on this one obviously.
posted by ootandaboot at 9:46 PM on November 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


As someone experienced in poly relationships, nthing the following:

1) dating other guys who are already in primary relationships would probably work better for you than dating single men who have no experience in poly relationships.

2) once the crazy jealous part appeared... putting them out of their misery would be a kind and compassionate thing to do.

That will pretty much solve your problem. However, it's nice to not have to do 2) a lot, so dating poly folks and promiscuous guys is the way to go.

People starting out with polyamory picture that they will have a cornucopia of limitless options for love. Between partners who are not interested when you tell them the situation, and partners who get sad and jealous, the dating pool is reduced 90%. In my experience, the dating pool ends up being a small community of like-minded nerds who have already all slept with each other! YMMV.
posted by kellybird at 11:23 PM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Regarding the guys who get angry at the very idea: there are an awful lot of people in the world who chafe under the constraints imposed by How Things Are Supposed To Be. Some of those people are really threatened when they see other people "breaking the rules" and not only getting away with it, but being supported in it and thriving. Goodness knows the world sees enough of that dynamic around feminism and gay rights, and you bet it comes out around responsible nonmonogamy, too.
posted by Sublimity at 9:37 AM on November 29, 2012


Your marriage is important to you. People who openly disrespect your marriage are disrespecting your priorities, and by extension you. If a man feels the need to destroy one of the most important bonds in your life in order to strengthen his bond with you, maybe he isn't someone you want playing a major role in your life.
posted by catalytics at 4:06 PM on November 29, 2012


Agree that once that line is crossed, the relationship is only going to get worse; might as well call it over. Let such a person go. The few times I've descended into jealousy, the only healthy or useful response was to break things off. It really is doing someone a favour if they can't see clearly to do so themselves.
posted by ead at 9:04 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


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