This is a guest post by Mina Button. She has written for Submissive Guide previously and you can find her writing here.
When I first heard about the idea of mono/poly, a relationship in which one partner is monogamous and the other partner isn't, I thought it could never possibly work. Well, maybe it could work for other people (though I was pretty skeptical about that, to be honest), but definitely not for me. After all, I've always been such a jealous person.
When my Sir and I first sat down and talked out the possibility of being in a relationship together, one of the first things they said was that they were polyamorous. They wanted to lay that on the table from the very beginning, so that it didn't cause problems later. I had less experience with poly, but we worked out what we were each comfortable with and how it would work with the various aspects of our relationship, including D/s.
It's been four years since we had that initial conversation, and in that time it has gradually become clear that I am a pretty monogamous person, relationship-wise. I am very fond of group sex, but I could easily be happy with just one romantic relationship with just one partner. But my Sir and I have a stronger relationship than ever, and I actually feel way more secure with our arrangement than I have in previous monogamous relationships. I am still learning how to navigate these things, but here's what has helped so far.
Envy vs. Jealousy
One thing that has been really useful to me is sorting out the difference between envy and jealousy. Both can be intense and even toxic, but figuring out which is which makes them easier to deal with. Envy is basically wanting something someone else has. For example, I am envious that my Sir is going to the movies with one of their other partners, but I have to be up early and therefore can't go. Jealousy is when you feel threatened, like someone is trying to take away what you have. When my Sir first mentioned the possibility of their having another submissive partner, I felt jealous.
I have found it really helpful to sort out and accurately name these two different feelings, as it helps me articulate what I need. It's the difference between "I would like to spend more time together, Sir," and "I am feeling insecure and need reassurance, please, Sir."
It does no one any favors to scrunch your feelings down and try to ignore them. I know it can be hard, especially within a D/s relationship. It's something I still struggle with. But when I actually say what's going on, it gives me a chance to talk through my feelings and figure out what's at the root of them and how to manage it. It is far preferable to "just putting up with it" until you can't contain the feelings anymore and you explode. My relationship is generally pretty low protocol, but I have learned that even in a higher protocol situation it's good to ask for permission to speak freely when feeling jealous or freaked out in the moment.
It's Not A Competition
This has become my mantra for navigating poly, and it's true! One night I was getting really upset about one of my Sir's other partners. I was 100% convinced that he was better than I am at everything, and much better suited to my Sir's needs. I actually said "How can I compete with that?"
And then it hit me that it's not a competition. It doesn't matter what someone else has or does or looks like, my Sir is still with me, and I'm their submissive. If they didn't want to be with me, they wouldn't be. I'm not competing with their other partners in some sort of winner-takes-all contest where one person gets to be their "one true love" in the end, we're all just different people that they have feelings for. I don't necessarily have to be besties with their other partners, but we're not competing for a title...it's like we have different roles in the same play.
I said in the beginning of this post that I feel more secure in this relationship than I have in previous monogamous ones, and it's true. I've had two relationships end in part because of cheating, and in both cases the fact that my partner chose someone else was a huge blow to my self-esteem. "What does she have that I don't?" was a question I asked over and over, both out loud and in my head. And even in relationships where there wasn't cheating, I spent so much time being terrified that someone better would come along, or worse, that someone better had already come along and I just didn't know it yet. Like I said, I've always been a jealous person.
Part of what my Sir and I negotiated at the beginning of our relationship is that they would always let me know what's going on. If they go to an event and play with someone else, they let me know when they get back. If they're interested in dating someone else, they check in. I've had a few times where I've been irrationally worried that something might happen, but it's become pretty clear at this point that they'll at least give me a heads up if they're interested in someone.
And the neat thing about the possibility of multiple relationships is that I don't really have to worry about being replaced. If the situation is that everybody only gets one partner (for whatever reason), and your partner meets someone that they decide is a "better fit," they either have to end a relationship or let that better fit person go. If that's not an issue, then it kind of doesn't matter who's "better." In fact, there isn't really a "better." People are just different, and if your partner meets a shiny new awesome person that they want to date/play with/sex up, they can do that and still enjoy the established relationship they have with you. And that's kind of awesome, isn't it?
The ideas in this post have really helped me navigate polyamory as a not-naturally-polyamorous person, and I hope it is helpful to you, too. One thing that gets said a lot in poly circles is that love is infinite, there's more than enough to go around. Of course, time and attention are not infinite, and probably the next trickiest thing after jealousy is sorting out schedules...but that's for another post. Good luck!
The Theory of Jealousy Management
Un-Masking the Green Eyed Monster: Managing Jealousy in Open Relationships Poly/Mono Relationships
Mina Button is a queer submissive femme who has been active in the BDSM community since 2009, and serving her current Dominant since 2011. Her day job is as a sex educator for a small toy boutique. Mina blogs at minabutton.kinky-blogging.com