Friday, August 8, 2014

The Insidious "S" - Word

You know the word. It's used ALL the time. And usually ends up making one feel like... well... crap.

That word?

We should all over ourselves on a regular basis, it seems - telling ourselves that what we're really doing or feeling isn't good enough. We should all over other people when it seems they're not performing to some arbitrary standard.

I'm not a jealous person; I shouldn't be feeling this way.

I'm poly! I shouldn't be worried about how close the two of them are!

I should be able to do this without asking for help/rules/reassurance; I need to just let it go.

You should be fine with him dating; that's what you signed up for!

Feels like we just got served a should sandwich. Nummy.

In the beginning of my relationship with my partner, I was taken aback by all the emotion and confusion I was dealing with. I'd always been more of a logical person, so I felt like Spock during Pon Farr - I had no idea what the hell all this... stuff... was, and had no idea how to deal with it. Logically, I could understand Poly. Logically, I wasn't a jealous person. Therefore, logically, I should be able to handle it just fine. And so, I buried those feelings.

Amazing how such a small, innocuous word turns into a fantastic tool for minimizing the things we are currently feeling and doing, in favor of what we believe we ought to feel and do, like we're upholding some magical ideal. Instead, we're rendering ourselves and our own feelings invisible, and telling ourselves that we're doing it wrong. That we come short of the ideal. That if we just stopped doing or feeling that, then we'd be fine.

Sometimes, the Poly groups and articles online are the worst offenders. I've seen a handful of articles in the last couple weeks that imply that jealousy just doesn't exist in Poly relationships. I've seen posts online that state that, if you're having a hard time, then maybe you should just give up. If you're jealous/angry/hurt, you've fallen short of the chosen ideal. You're wrong, and you're being unfair to your partner.

I'm monogamous; I get that I'm probably doing it wrong. But if you identify as polyamorous, how on Earth does something like that make you feel when you do have those jealous moments? Either way, you should all over yourself until you stop what you're doing.

Burying my feelings was the absolute worst thing I could have done. My emotions put me in a push/pull cycle of friendship with my metamour, where I tried (VERY) hard to be close with her, and then had to pull away, time and again. I was concerned about feeling second-best (but I shouldn't feel that way!), I was concerned about how her moving in with our partner was going to impact our relationship (but I shouldn't worry - he loves me!), I was still trying to get my own sea legs (but I should just trust my partner and I'll be fine!). And as each emotion got pushed down deeper and deeper, the smiles got faker and faker, and one day I erupted in a miasma of seething resentment.

This, as you may have guessed, didn't really help any.

Once damage control had begun, I realized that I needed to allow myself to feel what I was feeling. Burying it solved nothing, but acknowledging it - really accepting that yes, I am this kind of person... at least at the moment - and working through the reason why (even if it takes a few tries) is monumentally better than closing your eyes to the person you really are, even if you don't like that person all the time.

So how do we quit taking should from people? How do we stop giving people so much should? Whether we're monogamous or polyamorous, it seems like we're constantly stepping in should wherever we go.

Recognizing when you're surrounded by should would be the first step. Don't let that should overwhelm you. It's not real. It's some made-up utopian fantasyland, and you're turning the map over and over again in a vain attempt to find it. After all, others have been there - why can't you follow directions?


Assess where you are. What you're feeling. Accept it. Work through it. Even if you don't like it.

Especially if you don't like it.

Time for should to start gettin' real.


  1. I love love this blog!!! Thank you, I can so relate.

  2. Thank you SO much. I have been in a vacuum of seemingly unending despair since my husband (of 12 years) came out as poly last week. Reading this made me feel like I just got a hug from someone. Keep writing. People need to hear this.

  3. Thank you so much for listening to the show and for having the conviction to post your own experiences about it. One of the strengths of the poly community lies in the diversity of our experiences, and the more we share those, the more people will realize they are not alone in their identities and beliefs.

    And agreed that some people like yourself aren't comfy with "fake it 'til you make it." I've found it helpful, but others might not--to each her own!

    And I apologize if we weren't clear about the three D's, which were actually Discuss, Distract, Do. The idea was to talk with your partner in advance of the event to air out your fears and concerns (discuss), distract yourself with a special treat of whatever form is meaningful to you (distract) and then reinforce your comment to your partner after the event with some emotional and sexual bonding (do him/her!).

    And agreed that the distract part should be something that is special, sacred or meaningful to you. I've heard folks get really excited when they realize they can finally take a long bubble bath in a quiet house! Others take the time to indulge in a neglected hobby they find fulfilling, such a drawing or painting. Still others enjoy the license to go have a wild night out with friends. Agreed that whatever the distraction is, it should be meaningful and fulfilling to YOU.


Comments are welcome, but moderated. No flames or name-calling, please. Any suggestions for topics or links are encouraged. Thanks for reading!