Jealousy & The 8-Armed Octopus



I think of jealousy as a blanket term that points to many different feelings.  When we dig down into what we’re really experiencing, we see that it’s not just simple “jealousy” but rather a mix of hopes, fears, and unmet needs that are getting expressed.  Once we understand what we really want, then we can make effective requests or coping strategies. 


Reid Mihalko and Dr. Beth talk about the 8-Armed Octopus of Jealousy.  The arms are:


  • Loneliness
  • Need to feel special
  • Fairness/equity
  • Loss/fear of abandonment 
  • Rejection
  • Insecurity (in the relationship)
  • Inferiority (feeling “less than” within one’s self)
  • Longing/scarcity


Do any of these resonate with your particular flavor of jealousy?  


Sometimes getting one tentacle tugged is enough to set us off, and for others, it takes 2-3 before we’re in a full-blown jealousy attack.  When we know our most likely triggers, we can figure out ways to neutralize them. 


Allison Moon suggests ways to cope with these triggers in her book, Getting It: A Guide to Hot, Healthy Hookups and Shame-Free Sex.  Lonely? Schedule a hangout with a friend. Insecure in the relationship? Ask for reassurance.  Feeling scarcity?  Make plans with your sweetie so that you can look forward to seeing them, and know that time together is on the way.

This is the Wrong Feeling

One of the biggest hurdles to dealing with jealousy is our belief that we shouldn’t be feeling it.  When we tell ourselves that we’re feeling the wrong thing, we add to the suffering we are already experiencing.  There’s nothing wrong with experiencing jealousy.  It’s simply an indication that something inside of us needs our attention.  While it may be uncomfortable to feel it, jealousy can help us understand what sexual and romantic connections mean to us, and why they are so important. 


If you’d like to talk more about consensual nonmonogamy, managing multiple partners, jealousy, or opening your relationship, consider joining the consensual nonmonogamy group.


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