Thoughts on partner ownership, jealousy and trust.
I’ve dated men with such a variety of looks that it’s safe to say I don’t have a type. While I found each of them extremely attractive at the time of dating, it’s also safe to say my husband is the first objectively handsome guy I’ve ever dated. Not the type I think is cute or charming, the kind other people think so too.
Other women think so too. A lot of them.
My husband and I talk about literally everything, so it wasn’t surprising to me when he told me about a few women at his work who had been occasionally hitting on him and asking him out for about a year before we met.
He told me he never went out nor hooked up with any of those women.
Sometime ago, however, we had to get into the subject of another of his coworkers having a crush on him, which got me thinking about how those kinds of situations are just going to keep coming up again and again for the rest of our lives.
People crush on people. It happens. It’s natural.
Only it happens more often for some than others.
And when you’re part of a committed, monogamous relationship, you have to deal with it at two different levels: individually, and as a couple.
Individually: get the demons out of your head
Demons from my past still bother me today.
While you’ve never cheated on any of your partners, you might’ve been “the other woman” once before. I understand feeling attraction to someone other than your partner, and I understand what happens when women make it easy for men to cheat on their significant other.
What I have to remind myself is that my partner isn’t the man who cheated on his girlfriend with me. In fact, the two of them couldn’t be more different. I get the demons off my head by reminding myself that other women having a crush on my partner is completely outside of his control. He’s not pursuing anyone, he’s just aware of the facts.
You don’t own your partner
My partner’s behavior is entirely up to him.
Even though he has made promises to me, he doesn’t belong to me. Instead of torturing myself with thoughts of what he might or might not do, I have to let his actions be up to him.
Actions, of course, have consequences, but there’s no use in torturing myself about what might happen before it actually does (or doesn’t).
Understand the other women
A crush may be innocent, but not every action is pure.
Some of these women have crushed on him way before we even met. More will meet him and not know he’s in a relationship; others will know, but won’t be able to avoid feeling attracted. Some will act on that attraction, some will not.
People can’t be blamed for whom they’re attracted to, only for their actions.
I don’t intent to judge anyone on their interests, only on their choices — and yes, hitting on someone you know is ‘taken’ is disrespectful. Even then, if my partner is ever hit on, it’s up to him to figure out how to deal with it, not me. I’m not about to treat other women as a “threat” unless I have good reason to.
As a couple: establish the rules
Cheating is the breaking of an agreement.
It would be one thing if we had and open relationship or were polyamorous, but we’re both into the monogamy thing, which is our stated agreement.
What hurts the most about cheating isn’t even the act itself, but the breaking of a promise, which is why every couple needs to make their rules as clear as possible. Ours are: if either of us even kisses someone else, that would be cheating.
I trust my partner, and he trusts me.
The trust between us comes from a combination of actions and words. We don’t just say, “You can trust me” repeatedly to each other, but we take action to develop that trust.
Developing trust through actions requires us to spend time together, to engage with each other, and to demonstrate genuine interest in each other’s lives. In short, the more we strengthen our bond as a couple, the more we trust each other. It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort.
Talk it out
Openly shedding light on the issue helps dissipate its shadow.
When it comes to other people being interested in either of us (it’s happened both ways), openly acknowledging it may seem like vanity at first glance, or even a power move, but it actually makes any third party less appealing, as well as less threatening to the relationship.
Part of the appeal of cheating (for those who are into it) is the thrill of doing something behind your partner’s back, is putting your poker face to the test and getting away with keeping a major secret. When you talk about potential temptations with your partner, you make it less of a secret, dispelling the sense of mystery that surrounds it and eroding the temptation.
Don’t get me wrong, conversations about third parties demonstrating interest in either of us don’t headline our list of top favorite topics. If I’ve made it sound like talking about it the easiest thing in the world, then I apologize. It isn’t.
It’s not like we nonchalantly hit each other up and go like, “Hey, this is new, but I just found out this person at my work is super into me.”
The time needs to be right for that kind of talk. The story might take months to surface but the important thing is that it did.
A touch of jealousy shows that you care, too much jealousy becomes toxic
Jealousy keeps a relationship interesting, but never let it turn poisonous.
Everyone deals with jealousy, whether is their own or their partners, in a different way. Some love to punch up the volume on the drama, some can’t stand a drop of it.
I personally find that jealousy is like good seasoning on a dish, it needs to be well-measured. When there’s none of it, the food is bland and tasteless; when there’s too much, it’s unedible.
Well-measured jealousy makes you feel cared for and wanted.
I’d like for my partner to have some reaction to the knowledge that other men are interested in me. Acting like nothing is happening doesn’t cut it. Not even close.
Toxic jealousy attempts to control your behavior and your personal choices.
I would never tell my partner what he can or cannot do, or who he can or cannot spend time with, and I’d like to be extended the same courtesy. That’s the whole point of trusting each other: believing we’re capable of making the best decisions not only for ourselves, but for the sake of our relationship.
In the end, the individual is free
Every promise we ever made to each other was voluntary.
We decided to create a relationship. We set the terms for it and we’re both working on cultivating it the best way we can, but ultimately, I understand he’s as free to do as he wishes as I am. The fact that, so far, we have both chosen to be faithful to each other is amazing, but it’s nothing to take for granted.
As with everything else about our relationship, the best strategy is to take it one day at a time.
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