One of the biggest things I have learned from polyamory is that you cannot avoid your feelings. Poly has a way of digging up every issue in your relationships and making it sting like salt in a wound. Successful poly forces you to look long and hard at one of the hardest things to look long and hard at, yourself.
Before You Argue
I have been practicing sitting with my yucky feelings recently. I am not very good at hiding my emotions, nor do I typically try. However, I have been trying to make sure my emotions are not attached to any issue with my partner until I figure out if I really have one. About 70% of the time (maybe more) when I end up having feelings about something it is either something I can fix myself, or I can provide a solution for.
Example: My anchor partner, B, recently has introduced a few new partners to his life. Previously he had only one other partner, K. K did not co-sleep, so even though they would play in his bedroom, I usually had free reign over spending the night. As all things do, this changed. I found myself a little uncomfortable, and felt ‘crowded’ I would say. I realized it was mostly because it felt jarring to me to smell another person on my pillow while I was trying to fall asleep. Even though my initial panicked brain was telling me ‘he doesn’t love you as much, he is so busy with these new girls’, I said with that feeling for a while and realized I could make myself feel better about this with a very simple solution: I wanted my own pillow. Having my books next to the side of the bed I sleep on, and having my own pillow meant that even if someone else slept in that spot I would still have a different pillow that was mine.
Your Feelings are Still Important
Just because I try not to lead with my feelings doesn’t mean they aren’t incredibly important. I still attach ‘I am feeling this way, and I think that ___ would make me feel a bit better’ to my discussions. I want my partners to know how I am feeling, I just don’t want my jealousy, discomfort or indecision to be a reason they limit themselves.
Challenge yourself to sit down and ask yourself why you really feel a certain way. Is your partner really doing something that would hurt you or make you jealous? Or are you feeling that way because you feel like you haven’t been getting enough connection time lately? It is hard to look at yourself in this way, and to take your feelings as a symptom and not the disease.
I’m a territorial person. I wouldn’t consider it one of my best qualities. I still cringe whenever a house guest asks to use my bathroom, or asks to use my hair brush. Mostly this just covers my own space and belongings, though I still try to be extra careful that I don’t become territorial over things that aren’t mine. My body, my mind, and my time are things that I can place as many boundaries as I need to. My partners time, body and space are things that I cannot and should not place boundaries on. I do not own any experiences with my partner, as painful as it is to say. I should not tell my partner he can’t go to that new sushi place with his other girlfriend because he told me he would take me there first. I can’t tell my girlfriend that I am upset that she went to see a movie I wanted to see with her. I think this is incredibly hard, and I need to check myself often.