Jealousy and non-monogamy

In response to “Feedback request: What do you want to see in a book about non-monogamy and players?“, Nash asks about jealousy.

I would be interested in jealousy. I’d like to hear not only “it can be avoided,” but some EXAMPLES of how it has come up, show both sides, and then your best practices, some case studies of how you’ve managed that in YOURSELF and the GIRLS.

Jealousy… I don’t think it can be wholly avoided, for most guys. It’s like pain in the gym. You’re going to feel it sometimes. Most guys, including me, don’t like to see other guys railing their chick, even if the guy and chick are dating casually. In my view, some amount of jealousy, however small, can come up when a guy is in a situation where he’s going to nail another chick and his chick is going to get nailed by another guy.

Jealousy is adaptive because jealous guys have, historically, been more likely to ensure that a chick is bearing his child and not some other guy’s. If he’s carefully monitoring her and who she’s copulating with, he’s better able to ascertain that the baby is his and not Ughnah’s in the next tent over. The vast, overwhelming majority of human existence (99.9999%) occurred before reliable contraceptives and DNA tests, so we are not going to overcome our evolved instincts to do “mate guarding” (the term evolutionary biologists use). Not perfectly, not soon. This excerpt, from The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve, further describes jealousy from an evolutionary perspective,

Throughout the course of our evolution, any trait that increased the chances that a man would end up investing in his own offspring, rather than the offspring of his good-looking next-door-neighbour, had a good chance of being selected. One such trait was jealousy – the kind of jealousy that would lead a man to keep a wary eye on his partner and the good-looking neighbour, and to do what he could to keep them apart.

For most guys, jealousy can’t be avoided. So if a guy wants to go down this path, he should know that some amount of jealousy is probably coming and he should be psychologically prepared to experience it, before it happens. A guy can rationally understand that he’s doing a quid pro quo: he’s going to get his, so she’s going to get hers. This helps, but the jealous response is more emotional than rational. It is very hard to overcome emotional response through rational thoughts, but it can be done and for many guys must be done.

If a guy is in a casual relationship, he knows (intellectually) that the girl is probably sleeping with other dudes. He also probably likes the deliberate ambiguity, the way he doesn’t ask her and she doesn’t tell him. So he can think to himself, “Maybe she’s only having sex with me,” while he knows… that’s probably untrue. How big a jump is it from knowing that intuitively to seeing it happen in front of you? A big one, emotionally, but a small one, intellectually, particularly if the guy is busy with another chick.

In addition, I deal with jealousy by focusing on the other chick. I wrote that Libido Girl, who properly introduced me to this world, made sure that I was having sex with another girl before she had sex with another guy. Smart girl. It is hard to get that angry while you are deep in another girl. She did check in with me after all four of us were done having sex, to see how I felt, and again later that night, and again the next morning. She was helping me to emotionally process what had happened.

Now I do something similar with most girls I’m introducing. I encourage them to go first, or for us to go concurrently. Often, we don’t have sex with other people on the first night we go to a club. I try to get them involved somewhat gradually, unless they are very gung ho, like Ms. Slav was.

Jealousy can be better overcome when you (the man) and your date agree to only bang other chicks together, or to only do a couple-to-couple swap. You don’t want her entering a threeway with another couple on her own volition. Problems often happen when another couple appears ready to swap, but then the other chick doesn’t want to do it. That way lies problems. A guy’s date must be willing to call off the sex, and both people in a couple have to look out for each other. If the other couple is not committed to equal swapping, the whole thing must stop. If the other guy is into it and his date is not, it all must stop. I have done this before. It’s like throwing the emergency brake.

Jealousy goes away over time, or a guy becomes acclimated to it. The first time a guy brings a date to his party, jealousy may be overwhelming. But as one becomes acclimated, it decreases. If someone is desperately scared of flying, a psychologist won’t get her on a plane right away. A psychologist will gradually ramp her up (first he’ll have her in a plane-like dwelling, then talk to her about it, etc.). Jealousy can be the same way. Now it’s normal for me to have sex in groups or trade couple-to-couple, so much of the jealous response is gone.

The other way I see people deal with jealousy is, realistically, boredom. Many couples have been together so long that they aren’t that sexually hot for each other anymore. For those guys, jealousy can be a bit useful, because it might make him want to “compete” for the woman he’s tired of listening to every day. Couples who have been together so long that they’re bored may feel less jealousy and, when they do feel jealousy, it may help them.

Another word about swapping: Guys who don’t want their chick to bang other guys are in for likely problems. If the chick is bisexual, she may be okay with seeking another woman, but other single women are called “unicorns” for a reason. This path is not impossible but it is also the route of much drama and nonsense. I’m not going to speak to it here because the reader can search for “unicorns and swingers” or “how do I find a unicorn” and read the endless shit written about this overdone topic.

To summarize, I don’t think there’s a single cure for jealousy because jealousy is evolutionarily adaptive. Jealousy can be overcome by applying rational thinking to an emotional sphere, which has its own problems (I’m aware of them). It can also be overcome by the guy focusing on his own experiences: when you’re in another chick, who has the energy to feel jealous? These methods are imperfect and there is no final “right” answer. That is why everyone discussing swinging, open relationships, and polyamory online discusses jealousy. If there were a simple solution, everyone interested would do it, ending the discussions. But there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution, so it’s probably the most-discussed topic in non-monogamy. Many people dream about a mate who is loyal while allowing some screwing around. In reality this is a rare circumstance. Many people attempt to resolve this dilemma through covert cheating. Some are merely miserable. Others try non-monogamy, as I do.

I have never said (and will never say) that “non-monogamy is for everyone” or “group sex is great for everyone.” It’s not and it’s not.

I am saying, however, that given how most players like sexual novelty and variety, and most women in uncommitted relationships are going to be fucking around anyway, a guy should think about some of these strategies as a way of achieving better output for less work while also retaining the girl better.

It’s also surprising to me that more players haven’t figured this out. Maybe I’m lazier than some players and like having some of the filtering work done for me, in advance.
Some players are driven by the ego-based thrill of accomplishment, which is also fine, and that ego-thrill makes them chase one-night stands.

Some guys are also into jealousy. Jealousy makes them angry and competitive and then makes the sex better, because they want to do better than the other guy, or reclaim “their woman” and that kind of thing. These guys cite the Robin Baker book Sperm Wars and use the word “compersion.” That is not my experience but if this is you, great.

Jealousy is often most acute when your partner isn’t in the same room; someone who is happy to have sex with lots of different people often doesn’t really truly want their partners to do the same. But it can be easier to handle the jealousy if both parties are getting the same thing at the same time in the same place. That’s why many couples default towards couple-to-couple swaps: this balances the value equations. If the sex and value equation is unbalanced, jealousy becomes stronger. Many people who think they can handle their partners having sex with someone else, can’t. Going slowly during entry to the non-monogamy world can mitigate jealousy. Preferring couple-to-couple swaps can also mitigate it, and I’ve heard from other players exploring this world who have discovered the same thing independently of me. One such player, Black Ring, had a woman who has spent most of her life being very promiscuous and hoping from man to man (and woman to woman: she’s bisexual). He introduced her to sex clubs and gave her a framework for placing and thinking about her non-monogamy. She went out and f**ked a couple new guys. Then, when he did something similar with women, she couldn’t handle it. She seems to not have realized that Black Ring is a guy who can seduce new women, and when he did, she flipped, and broke it off with him. Eventually he reeled her back in, but he expected that she would be okay with him doing the equivalent of what she was doing.

To be sure, Black Ring likely didn’t manage the woman optimally. As a couple, they jumped too deeply into non-monogamy too quickly. Both also had other obligations specific to their individual lives that may have prevented deepening their relationship first. They should have gone more slowly, with her agreeing not to f**k random other guys, and both of them focusing more on the sex club and dating environments. Instead, she wrote checks she couldn’t cash, claiming that she would be fine with him having sex with other women. I’d guess that she didn’t realize he has other options, since most men don’t.

A logical man can also correctly point out she’s the one who made an agreement she couldn’t keep. While the logical man is correct, the psychologically astute man learns to manage women effectively and tries not to put women into situations they aren’t going to be able to handle. That’s why it’s wise to enter this world slowly and agree that if she gets one, he gets one, and if he gets one, she gets one, preferably all at the same time, to help manage jealousy. At work, the wise manager tries to internalize as much negative performance from his subordinates as possible. He asks himself how he could have handled the situation better, how he can handle it better next time, etc. The bad manager blames his subordinates as much as possible in order to keep his own mental image of himself optimal. It’s easy and correct to say that sometimes the good manager gets bad subordinates and sometimes the bad manager gets good subordinates, but the best managers conscientiously try to prevent bad situations and encourage all subordinates to do the best work possible.

When you’re introducing a woman to non-monogamy, encouraging her to only have sex with others with you is a good strategy that is more stable than most other strategies. Moving slowly is a better way to manage emotions than moving quickly. I want to emphasize that you, as a player, can do relationship anarchy win. It’s possible for you to move quickly into non-monogamy and win. The relationship is just less likely to function that way, and more likely to blow up, if you dive in quickly and don’t work hard on jealousy management and mitigation strategies.

I’ve never heard anyone say, “We got into non-monogamy or sex clubs too slowly.” The reverse, however, is very common: people leap in too quickly, then create emotional explosions that destroy their relationships. So going slowly is often better.

Lifting offers another metaphor. Many guys, particularly older guys age 30 and over, hit the gym too hard and too soon, and often don’t have good enough warm-ups and mobility to lift the kind of weight they want to lift. Rapidly adding weight to the squat, deadlift, clean and jerk, overhead press, and bench press is a good way to hurt yourself and ultimately retard your progress. For guys who aren’t targeting peak strength at a particular date for a contest, like basketball playoffs, it’s better to go a little slower. Guys who are being coached for peak strength at a specific section of a sport season or wrestling match have different needs and should consult their coaches. Guys who are starting a workout program for fitness, aesthetics, and improved bodily functioning should add weight a bit more slowly than they think, and avoid injury.

I’ve seen a lot of failure in this world, and seeing all that failure results in the caution expressed in this section.