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Jealousy is an emotion that most of us experience at some point in our relationships. And even though swingers generally experience less sexual jealousy and are open to allowing other people into their relationship to some extent, swingers are no strangers to jealousy either. In this article, we will discuss a few ways to defuse jealous feelings. But first, let’s take a look at the psychology of jealousy.
All emotions serve some kind of evolutionary purpose – even anxiety and depression have their function and can help ensure our survival. (Of course, they can do exactly the opposite if left unmanaged.) And it’s the same for jealousy; it serves the purpose of protecting our relationship with a closely bonded person. It might signal that a relationship is under threat and then hurl us into action to make sure we don’t lose our loved ones. At its core, jealousy is about fear of being displaced.
Has feeling jealous ever made you kinder, more charming, and loving towards someone? Well, that’s because it’s a motivating emotion, and in that way, it can lead to good things.
But jealousy mostly feels painful and overwhelming. It can make you feel angry, possessive, hurt, rejected, or abandoned. As a result, you might start behaving in hurtful ways, like blaming or accusing your partner, pushing them away, or distancing yourself. There is also often shame attached to it. We frequently tell ourselves we shouldn’t be feeling jealous and are ashamed to admit when we do. But shame stops us from dealing with the issue and doesn’t allow us to resolve it.
This can be especially true in a swinging relationship because we see other couples seeming so carefree and imagine that they don’t experience jealousy. But we never know what happens inside someone else’s relationship. It’s likely they have been through it too and have found ways within themselves and within their relationship to overcome it. It takes time and practice to free ourselves from fear and create trusting, honest, and nurturing bonds without holding the leash too tight (unless that’s your thing, of course!).
So what can you do when you start noticing jealousy in yourself, and how can you respond when your partner shows signs of jealousy?
Accept and let go
You might notice you feel jealous when you see your partner having what seems to be too much fun with someone else at a party, or maybe your partner commented on how beautiful or sexy someone else looked the other night. Sometimes just the mention of a particular name can ignite a jealous response. When you notice that sharp pain in your chest, feel the tightening in your gut, and can’t keep up with the thoughts racing through your head – stop. Put everything on hold for a minute as you gather yourself. Take a few deep, conscious breaths from your belly and give yourself a moment.
Take stock of the situation. Instead of beating yourself up for reacting negatively or lashing out at your partner for “making” you feel insecure, try to figure out what triggered you and why. Ignoring the feeling will not make it go away. However, understanding what’s behind the emotion can help you communicate your needs to your partner.
As you breathe deeply, think of every inhalation as accepting your partner’s love. Then, as you exhale, let go of the jealousy to make room for more positive feelings.
Acknowledging our feelings and focusing on our breath when we experience emotional turmoil or pain allows us to center ourselves, calm down, and take control of our thoughts. Being compassionate and forgiving yourself for feeling jealous will help slow down the racing thoughts and enable you to think more rationally.
If you experience jealousy often and it seems to be a recurring issue for you, including mindfulness in your daily routine is a great way to train the mind. Jealousy generally stems from negative thought patterns about not measuring up to someone else or being replaced. As a result, our brain is conditioned to repeat how we think about things and act in certain situations when we sense a threat (real or imagined).
The good news is that you can re-train your brain. Our thought patterns are not set in stone, and you have the power to overcome jealousy. A good exercise is to write down three positive things that happened in your day – it doesn’t matter how small or insignificant they seem. Then, focus on one or two things you love about your partner, your relationship, and even swinging. This will help you to build positive thought patterns.
Jealousy can result from low self-esteem and measuring yourself against others – ‘he has bigger muscles than me’ or ‘he likes her more than me.’ When we focus on the negatives or our perceived shortcomings, we lose sight of the positives. Instead, use affirmations to remind yourself that you have value exactly as you are. Keep them simple and short, like ‘I am enough,’ ‘I am desirable,’ or ‘I am kind.’ Say them out loud and repeat your affirmations several times a day, every day. Boosting your self-confidence as a swinger is a great way to avoid jealousy issues. Again, this will help your thinking to become more positive over time.
Experiencing jealousy suggests that you feel your relationship is somehow under threat. Why do you believe that? Did something specific happen? Why are you feeling vulnerable?
Try to get to the root of your fears. Feelings of jealousy in the present tend to be tied to painful experiences of the past. Take some time to think about those things and be honest with yourself – and with your partner.
Talk to your partner
Swinging is about more than great sex and fun nights out. It’s about maintaining a strong relationship and even enhancing your bond with your own partner. That requires honest, open, and respectful communication, especially about fears and insecurities.
Talking to your partner openly can make you feel closer to each other and can prevent jealousy from happening in the first place. And when jealous feelings do pop up, you can discuss this, and they can help reassure you. If your partner understands and respects your feelings, they can take action to avoid certain triggers. This is another place where boundaries and rules come into play. Make sure you are both clear on what you are comfortable and not comfortable with. If a line is crossed, use it as an opportunity for learning.
If you find yourself experiencing jealousy during a swinging encounter, use your safe word or touch (for example, squeezing an arm in a certain way) to let your partner know you need to talk or need a time out. This can provide the necessary space for a quick debrief and can often quickly defuse any negative feelings.
If your partner expresses jealousy or unease of some kind, be patient, show compassion, and affirm your love and desire for them. Everyone is responsible for their own emotions, but having a supportive partner is vital.
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