The Picture That Jealousy Paints Doesn’t Usually Match the Reality of the Situation

“You’ve always enjoyed the chase,” I say to my partner while we’re getting ready for work this morning. “but then again, so have I.”

“You’re right,” he confirms, “That’s part of what I worried about when we started dating. That the chase would be over. We would no longer be keeping our relationship secret and you would lose interest”

“I get that, I panicked about that too. What I think works with us is that we’re able to get the best of both worlds. We have relationships outside of each other where the chase is still relevant, but the comfort of a long term partnership.”

“But I still feel like the chase is happening with you,” he counters.

“Yes I agree,” I follow up, “and I’m wondering if that’s because subconsciously we’re trying to… assert our dominance in the relationship? Like there’s enough comfort in our relationship being solid, but not too much comfort where we just kick our feet up and say ‘whelp, this is it’.”

“Exactly, and in past relationships, once we hit the point of comfort, it was ‘here are your rules, you can’t talk to these people, you can’t do these things, you have to spend a certain amount of time with me’. With you, there’s no hidden agenda. You don’t stop me from living my life.” he explains.

**

This conversation played over and over again in the forefront of my mind when my partner tells me that his best friend from high school was planning to come and visit. They had a friendship that was more than platonic but they never dated. Whenever he spoke of her, my mind drew the conclusion that she was the one that got away. The ultimate chase that could lead to a far superior happily ever after for him.

The jealousy with her was always there, but never enough for me to let that anxiety get too overwhelming. She lives across the country and the last time they had seen each other was when they went to Japan two years ago, a year before we started dating. They would speak on a somewhat regular basis via Facebook and he would never hide that fact.

I would express the jealousy and envy I had in regards to his relationship with her, here and there, but assured him that I respected the friendship and supported it, which wasn’t a lie. I would ask questions about her and listen intently to stories about high school, their trip to Japan as well as the dynamic they had, and found solace in the fact that she lived further away.

In an effort to show my support for their friendship, a few months ago I had inquired to him about whether or not she would be interested in coming to visit, allowing them to catch up as well as giving me the peace of mind of getting to know her. As I had mentioned in my article about where my jealousy comes from, I felt that if I had that opportunity to meet her, and she was able to acknowledge the relationship I had with my partner, the lingering jealousy would dissipate and allow me to put more energy into supporting this friendship that made him happy. I would be able to experience compersion instead of inadequacy.

The experience with his recent intimate friendship, the woman that didn’t acknowledge my presence in his life, still festered when he told me recently that his long time friend was interested in coming to visit in the next month or so. On top of all that, I was sick for the first time this year, and hormones were running rampant from PMS. The feelings of inferiority lingered and snowballed, thinking about the past they had, the ‘firsts’ they shared and my inability to compare to this woman who I had only heard stories about. I formulated a picture of her in my head of someone who had no interest in meeting me, and my partner taking off for the whole weekend to make up for lost time with the high school crush he spoke so fondly of.

**

It was a perfect storm of nagging anxiety and hormones that caused me to break down. I very rarely allow feelings of jealousy to cause me to lose my cool, but this day was an exception. When he would bring up that he had conversations with her, I never heard any discussions involving me, and I had it in my head that he didn’t discuss me out of fear of pushing her away. That his life outside of his friendship with her would hinder their dynamic and I was only an obstacle. That there was a chase, and I was the hurdle that could bring the whole thing down. I pictured her as someone who would come to visit and lay claim to my partner; that their history would trump anything I had with him. I would be a 3rd wheel to the stories they shared and I would be ‘the new partner’ who didn’t know him anywhere close to the level she did.

I lost it. I was passive aggressive and angry. I pushed him away because that was my defense mechanism out of fear of getting hurt. I had been rejected so many times by family and past relationships that I couldn’t handle the idea of being rejected by my partner, or his best friend. His defenses rose because of his experience with past relationships that had rules in place claiming that he wasn’t able to speak to her, as well as other important women in his life. It was a difficult few days of poor communication (thanks Mercury) and us having our guard up from our own past trauma.

We came to a potential solution where he would speak to her about his boundaries as well as mine. I was still slightly on edge, expecting him to put it off out of the fears I assumed he had. He assured me that, if she did respond poorly to boundaries being laid out, that it would be on her, although he knew that it wouldn’t come to that.

I know I can be stubborn sometimes but, I’ll admit, he was right. He was right about the whole thing. He laid out the boundaries and she explained her fears and anxieties which, low and behold, they were the same as mine. She didn’t want to be a 3rd wheel to our stories about his more recent life. She didn’t want to insert herself into our relationship, just as I didn’t want to do the same to their friendship, which caused us to never reach out to each other. In fact, she was worried that if she maintained the extent of intimacy with my partner that she had in the past, or attempted to become too involved in our relationship, I wouldn’t allow him to maintain that dynamic with her.

My partner was right about another thing too: her and I get along great. This shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did thanks to the fantasy of her I had created in my brain. I felt as though she was far more his type than I was and that, with their history, I would never be able to match her. However, much like any relationship, we offer different things that simultaneously meet my partner’s needs. At the same time, we share a lot of similarities that allowed us to form a friendship of our own in a matter of days. Similarities that, as my partner has pointed out, all the important women in his life share.

We have been able to communicate boundaries with each other as well as boundaries in terms of my relationship with my partner. The anxiety I felt towards her has dissolved completely and, while a healthy amount of jealousy is still present, I know that I’m able to discuss these feelings with her and she will acknowledge and understand them. The tension that was present in her relationship with my partner seemed to have also dissolved, allowing them to pick up where they left off before him and I started dating.

As I’ve discussed before, jealousy happens. How we handle those feelings is the deciding factor in whether its healthy or toxic. Sometimes, we handle jealousy in a very unhealthy way and it can be hard to control when other factors are involved. I’ve spent the last few days beating myself up over it but the more I write, the more I realize that this ‘perfect storm’ needed to happen to fix a friendship while also creating a new one.

**

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Flirting with women is easier when your partner is a good wingman

Photo credit: Destinymoon

You would think that, as a woman, I would be well versed in the ways of smooth talking and flirting with other females. Well I’m here to tell you how incredibly untrue that assumption is.

I’ve mastered the art of flirting with men. I’m able to confidently walk up, drop a few smooth lines, and score myself a number with little to no concern. Even if I get rejected, I’m able to brush it of without being hard on myself. Women on the other hand cause me to trip over my words, avoid eye contact and sometimes, end my attempt with the ever-so-suave finger guns. Even if I’m able to muster up the courage to approach her and drop a sincere compliment without butchering the delivery, 90% of the time they thank me as if they don’t think what I said was of a flirtatious nature.

“How do you do it?” I ask my partner, throwing my hands in defeat. He giggles because he thinks it’s cute how awkward I get. He then answers my question with another question:

“Well what kind of things do you like that I do?”

I’ve seen him flirt with girls first hand. I’ve watched him use his charm, with what seems like no effort, that makes some women (including myself) just absolutely melt. The thing with him is that he’s not persistent, he’s not pushy nor does he drop some cheesy pick up line. He has confidence that I would kill for.

“Okay that’s fair,” I answer “but how do you know when they’re actually into you? Like when do you know when to… turn up the flirting?”.

He laughs again. “I’ve never really thought about it but, I guess one of the things I usually do is move a bit closer and if they pull away, I stop completely, but if they don’t move away or they move closer, that’s when I know.”

It was so obvious. There’s nothing that I hate more than trying to give clear social cues and having the other party not pick them up. If someone who I am clearly not interested in tries to move closer, I will make a point of moving away from them. Unfortunately not a lot of men will pick up on that which leaves me stuck, frantically looking for an excuse to get out of there. Body language is one of the most clear ways to observe whether or not someone is interested or feeling safe.

Having a partner that is not only supportive of my sexuality, but who doesn’t use it as a way to score himself a threesome is a huge plus. He genuinely wants to see me happy and will go out of his way to give me a pep talk, or help me verbally dissect a situation or conversation that I’m reading completely wrong. Over the last year or so, my confidence towards flirting with women has improved dramatically and maybe one day, with his help, I’ll be as confident with women as I am with men.

**

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What it’s Like to be an Empath Dating Another Empath

As an empath, you feel everything. It can be incredibly overwhelming sometimes. Not only am I carrying the weight of my emotions, which can be exhausting on its own, but if I’m not careful, I can easily stack on the emotions, and energy, of those around me. I find that it can be extremely difficult to maintain friendships because I have to be particular about who I spend my time with and when. High-energy friends, and those who need a lot of emotional maintenance, requires me to ensure I take more time to recharge after hanging out with them.

I was raised by a narcissist and have dated a few and I’ve read so many articles, during and after leaving those situations, on the damaging effects these relationships can have for empaths. I always fantasized about meeting someone that felt like I did; about how wonderful it must be to have someone understand my emotions and connect with me on that level. How phenomenal it would be to not feel like my empathy is being used against me. Finding another empath sounded like a dream scenario.

The pros of dating another empath

I’m not going to sit here and deny that I’m in the best relationship I’ve ever been in. There are so many upsides to dating an empath. When days are good, they’re great. When one of us is feeling down or stressed, we’re able to be understanding of each other, and help one another through it. “Arguments” are usually handled not by combating each other, but instead, working together against the problem.

We are constantly pushing each other to socialize, work on career advancement and practice self care. When my partner comes home from a night out with his best friend, or I excitedly show him what I did after two hours of learning code, we feed off of that positive energy. Success and happiness doesn’t create jealousy between us, it only pushes us further. It’s an upward spiral of bettering ourselves and it’s one of the most blissful feelings.

One of the things that I find absolutely adorable is that sympathy PMS will hit my partner hard. Yes, it’s a real thing. During ‘Shark Week’, everything makes me emotional. This weekend we were watching Overwatch animated shorts on YouTube, and I felt the tears stream down my cheeks as Tracer knelt down and told the two young boys that “the world needs more heroes”. My hormones were all over the place and honestly, I felt so silly. That was until I looked over to see my partner’s eyes full of tears too, feeling just as empathetic as I did.

The cons of dating another empath

There are downsides to this type of relationship though, especially when its been ingrained in us since birth to feel as though we’re responsible for other our partner’s emotions. When one of us spirals, it’s easy for both of us to spiral hard. If boundaries aren’t discussed, it doesn’t take much to get pulled down. We’ve been together for over a year and we still have a difficult time drawing the line between doing whatever we can to help, and making sure that our own mental health is in check.

In times when my partner starts to slip, I feel it. I try to give him the support he has asked for during previous discussions. However, if the spiral continues longer than a few days, I have a difficult time letting go of the idea that I need to do something. My control issues begin to surface and I start doing everything in my power to fix things, even if they can’t be fixed. Even if there’s nothing to fix. I start to feel useless and like I’m not doing enough. I fixate on finding a solution until I stop thinking about myself. We then continue feeding off of each other’s emotions and energy, causing us to both spiral further.

How to make it work

What’s the solution here? Honestly, I know what it is but snapping ourselves out of that mentality isn’t easy. Communication, boundaries and trust. We both need to work on keeping the communication clear, by not holding back due to fear of overloading the other person. Boundaries need to be continuously discussed so that we know when to take time to recharge when we are feeling overloaded. Finally, trusting each other to voice when we are at our limit so that we can find other avenues of support when our partner doesn’t have the emotional capacity to help us.

**

If you enjoyed what you read, head over to the Links page. Let’s connect.

You can also Ask Me a Question. This helps me with topics to write about. Polyamory, relationships, attachment parenting, feminism, communication and mental health are just some of the topics I read a lot about and have formed quite a few opinions on.

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Sometimes it’s Easy to Mistake My Anxiety for Anger

Photo by Tmedia Photography

Have you ever had one of those days where you’re constantly worried that something bad is going to happen? Whether it’s logical or not, the thoughts creep into your head, you have nasty butterflies in your stomach and your chest feels so tight that you can hardly breathe. Whether your partner is talking to someone new, your child is sick, you have a yearly review at work or… literally nothing (sometimes there’s no real cause for the overthinking and panic), the feelings fester and get worse. The preconceptions stack and build and become so irrational that if you took a step back and thought about things logically, you would see how absurd your thought process is. This is what anxiety feels like.

Day in and day out this is what it can be like for me. Often the triggers can be so small, but can still hugely impact my perception. A simple song, quote, an out of context portion of conversation, or post on social media can send me spiraling into internally asking questions and coming to the most ludicrous conclusions.

“What if the girl he’s talking to is cooler than me? What if they make fun of me behind my back? What if she’s convincing him to leave me? He’s going to leave me.”

“Did I leave my straighter on? I can’t remember if I turned it off. What if the cats knock it off the counter? What if it touches the shower curtain and the whole place lights on fire? How will my animals get out? What if no one knows before it’s too late?”

So on and so forth until I’m thinking of the absolute worst case, far fetched scenarios. It’s exhausting because logically I know none of this will happen. I’m continuously fighting against my brain, every single day.

My partner will come into the room mid anxiety attack, clueless of all of this, and ask me about something. I have a tendency to snap back about insignificant things because I’m so worked up about the imaginary scenarios.

“Why didnt you take out the garbage??”
“This kitchen is a mess.”
“Where are my keys?!”

Luckily my partner and I have gotten to a point in our relationship where he can differentiate between the two. It wasn’t always like that though, there was a substantial period of time where he would follow up with:

“Are you mad at me?”

At which point, I would partially snap out of it and apologize, explaining what I had been dealing with before he walked into the minefield.

It’s so easy to mistake anxiety for anger. This doesn’t justify the way I handle myself when I’m overwhelmed. This is something I’ve been working on every day and having him there to listen to my fears, and help me dissect them, does make a huge difference in how I unlearn this toxic behaviour.

**

If you enjoyed what you read, head over to the Links page. Let’s connect.

You can also Ask Me a Question. This helps me with topics to write about. Polyamory, relationships, attachment parenting, feminism, communication and mental health are just some of the topics I read a lot about and have formed quite a few opinions on.

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There’s No Point in Arguing With Those not Willing to Listen

No matter how good of a person you are, and how much you do for people, there will always be someone who perceives you, and your point of view, negatively. Even if you do everything you can to look at things objectively and offer calm, viable solutions to problems or issues, if it doesn’t fit their narrative, they won’t listen. Even if you carefully live your life and watch every step to make sure you follow what’s deemed acceptable by society, there will always be someone who will create their own image of you to make themselves look better. Even if you try to make things as fair as you possibly can, and offer the ability to discuss and negotiate situations, they will not always care to listen or offer the same respect that you offer them.

I spent a lot of years caring about what other people think, and living my life to maintain my image. Openly stepping outside of the comfort zone of what’s viewed as ‘acceptable’ by society would cause incredible amounts of anxiety and panic. This worsened when I became a mother, as I mentioned in my post about how I refuse to sacrifice my life to parenting.

When I left one of my past partners due to an extended period of emotional abuse, I had lost almost all of my confidence. They became vindictive and attempted to pit everyone we knew against me by manipulating stories to make it seem as though they were the victim. It used to bother me so much, and they knew it, which made it worse. They created an image of me, from small pieces of scattered information, to make it seem as though I was something that I’m not. Communicating and clarifying the actual situation to my ex partner, or defending myself, never made a difference. Every time I would try, they would cut me off and claim that it wasn’t worth an explanation. The accurate telling of events would only make it more difficult for them to be angry. It would only hinder their ability to spin the story how they wanted to tell it.

After multiple attempts to maintain and protect my image, and attaining the same result, I started to question why. Why was I trying to defend myself to someone who was clearly so unhappy with their own life that they’re trying to destroy everyone else’s perception of me? Why do I care so much? Explaining the truth won’t make a difference because they don’t want to hear it. I know I’m a good person with the best intentions. I know that I’m capable of empathy and understanding. I know that I can acknowledge my flaws, and apologize when I’m wrong. The important people in my life know this as well. So why do I need to try so hard to impress those that choose not to believe these things?

The answer? I don’t. I’ve learned to live my life for me, and that I’m not responsible for other people’s perception of me. Whether I live life to the epitome of perfection, or I live it the way I want to, they will always have something negative to say, and that’s on them. How they talk to, and about me, is a reflection of them. How I react is a reflection of me.

**

If you enjoyed what you read, head over to the Links page. Let’s connect.

You can also Ask Me a Question. This helps me with topics to write about. Polyamory, relationships, attachment parenting, feminism, communication and mental health are just some of the topics I read a lot about and have formed quite a few opinions on.

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Anxiety Hack: Visual Organization for Mental Organization

“Holy fuck.” I cuss under my breath, running around the house, jumping from one task to another.

“Is everything okay?” my partner asks. He already knows the answer to this since he’s seen this before on multiple occasions.

“The clutter is driving me crazy. I have a million things to do. I have to get groceries, do laundry, pack Arya’s lunch for school. Shit, I still need to RSVP to that birthday party she’s going to.” I groan and put my hands on my face as if to slow down my brain which is currently in rapid fire mode.

“Sam,” My partner starts using his dom voice so he knows I’m paying attention. I take my hands on my face and look at him. “first I need you to take a deep breath.”

I do as I’m told.

“Good girl.” He smiles and pulls out his phone, opening his notepad. “Okay, what are all the things you need to do tonight.”

**

I’ve never been the most organized person. Ask my dad and step mom. I was a young teenager when I made the decision to move to their house to flee my mother’s crushing grip on my life. My room was utter chaos. If it ever did manage to get cleaned, it lasted no more than a week. It drove them absolutely crazy.

Me? I was fine with it. I would sleep soundly every night next to my purse, game cases, papers, textbooks, clothes and a collection of other things. That was just my bed. My floor was an even layer of all of the above amongst other things.

Motherhood changed me. Which is ironic when you think about it. Someone once told me ‘Trying to clean the house when you have a child is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos’. I’ve never heard something more accurate. Trying to teach a 4 year old to clean up after themselves is an uphill battle. She’s getting there. More on that another day.

I have major control issues and I acknowledge that. The state of my house is the one thing that I do feel as though I have control over. If I don’t have order, I lose it. Pile work, groceries, and other day to day responsibilities on top of that? Prepare for a panic attack.

When I was with a previous partner, if I didn’t go to the grocery store, we wouldn’t have food (though if we were needing something for that night or the next morning he would run out and get it. I more so mean big grocery shops). If I didn’t do the dishes, they sat in the sink. If I didn’t do laundry, then no one would have clothes for the week. I had been so overwhelmed that I gave up. I had lost control. Anxiety spiraled into depression. That’s when I had been at my absolute lowest. It got to a point where I was no longer taking care of myself. Any energy I had left was making sure my child’s needs were met. While she was fed, clothed and happy, I still wasn’t the mother I had wanted to be.

My current partner does a vocal list as he pats himself down every time he leaves the house:

“Cell phone, keys, wallet, vape, vape fluid.”

If anything from that list of must-haves for the day is missing, he’s able to catch it right there. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve been halfway to work and I was missing at least one of those things and had to turn back around. Once we started living together, I never forgot anything at home again.

My roommate at the time purchased a large dry erase board. He would write down any short term or long term tasks he would need to complete. It helped him organize his day to day life and to keep himself on track. We were welcome to use it too, so my partner would start making lists of things we would need to do. If it was cleaning, he would write down everything I said that needed to be tidied, wiped down and washed. He wrote down when we had places to go, things we needed to buy. He would then split up all of the tasks between the both of us that I was originally going to take on myself.

Every day seemed to get easier and easier. Anxiety attacks would get few and far in between. For the first time in 4 years I could feel my head start to clear. I had more energy to spend on being an emotionally available mother, as well as the time to spend on myself.

Every time I would get close to an emotional overload, he would grab a dry erase marker (or open his phones memo pad if we weren’t home) and write down all the tasks that need to be completed.

I had never really considered the impact of seeing all my thoughts written out. No overwhelming fear that I’m going to forget something, or god forbid, that I won’t sit down until 11pm. It has made my life increasingly less difficult. For once I finally feel like I have control of something.

**

If you enjoyed what you read, head over to the Links page. Let’s connect.

You can also Ask Me a Question. This helps me with topics to write about. Polyamory, relationships, attachment parenting, feminism, communication and mental health are just some of the topics I read a lot about and have formed quite a few opinions on.

Thanks for reading!