Word selection and nuance are super important in managing open relationship communication. One simple example has been wrestling with the difference between jealousy and envy. Another, more recent revelation, has been the difference between equal and balanced.
One of the most important aspects in our open marriage is that neither Jeannie nor I are looking for partners to replace each other. Instead we’re looking for partners that supplement or compliment our relationship while fulfilling some individual needs or desires. For example, Jeannie likes some aspects of impact play, but not all the same ones that I enjoy. Therefore, my partnering with Justina to play with canes, for example, complimented my relationship with Jeannie. It allowed me to satisfy a craving I cannot satisfy with Jeannie while taking nothing away from Jeannie and me.
This, is balance. This is what open relationships should seek.
Another example of balance is when Jeannie has a date night with another partner and I’m out at a rave. This things are not equal, but we have balance because we’ve each selected an activity that fulfills our individual needs. Yet there was a time where I was envious of Jeannie’s date nights when I went to a rave. I felt like I was missing out, like I should have been out on a date, too.
And this is where trouble can creep in, when there is this subconscious FOMO sneaking into our feelings. For things to be equal, we’d both have dates on the same night. But Jeannie having a date and my being at a rave, while balanced, can push me into FOMO-land. And with FOMO comes envy, and maybe jealousy. This is where I can spiral out into a dark place.
JOMO: The Joy Of Missing Out
Instead, there’s the concept of JOMO – the joy of missing out. It’s a simple but challenging concept, where you take pleasure in consciously missing out because you’ve chosen to do something else that satisfies your needs. Makes sense, right? Also seems like a challenge, right? It is! But it’s worth it.
When Jeannie and I started to see the difference between equal and balanced, it got much easier to manage emotions when our schedule, or energy, weren’t perfectly aligned. It’s not always easy, but by focusing on a nuance like this, we’ve done really well lately. I was even able to let Jeannie go on a Saturday overnight date despite my having no plans whatsoever. Why? I had an exhausting week and, in reality, the idea of take out food and Netflix leading to an early bed time was actually quite appealing! When I awoke Sunday morning alone, there was a tinge of jealousy, but I was able to drop into the joy of my personal decision. Plus, I was finally feeling rested and knew that the solid night of sleep was worth it!
If you find yourself struggling to find equality in your open relationship, check your ego at the door and strive for balance instead. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.