Have you ever experienced jealousy in love and relationships? What do you do with jealousy when it comes up? In this episode Dr. Alison Ash returns to the show to discuss with SLSP host Tatiana Berindei all the many facets of jealousy and how to approach it in a loving and healthy way. Whether you are non-monogamous or in a committed monogamous partnership, the wisdom shared in this episode can benefit anyone on the journey of personal growth through love relationships. Those exploring non-monogamous relationships especially will find a ton of gold in here. Whatever your relationship structure, be sure to tune in as we unravel the topic of jealousy and give you all the tools you need to work with it!
Hello everyone, and welcome to the Sex, Love, and SuperPowers Podcast show. I am your loving host, Tatiana Berindei, and I am really excited to welcome back a repeat guest, Dr. Alison Ash. If you have not listened to the show that she and I did on navigating the world of polyamorous dating, please do so. Whether you’re polyamorous or not, this is a really phenomenal interview that she and I did, and you can learn more about her background as a Sex and Intimacy Coach, and the Founder of TurnON.Love. We’re not going to dive into her superpowers and everything since we already covered that, we’re just going to jump right into a really juicy conversation about jealousy, love, and relationships. Because there is so much to talk about when it comes to jealousy in our love and relationships.
I just want to say welcome again, thank you so much for coming back to the show, Dr. Ash.
Thanks for having me. It’s such a pleasure to get to chat with you.
Absolutely. Okay, so let’s just dive right into this conversation about jealousy. First of all, I mean we kind of know what jealousy is. But, why does it exist in your understanding, in your study of human relationships, and what do we do with it?
Yeah, great question. Jealousy is a threat response. It’s your system sending up an alarm. Whether or not monogamy is natural or whether or not human beings are always going to be jealous regardless of whether or not we’re in a monogamous/non-monogamous paradigm. It’s just important to realize that it’s a very natural emotion and experience. And, that when we think about how important our connections are to us, when we think about wanting to protect the people, and the relationships that we love, and when we think about how we are to pain, it makes sense that your body would be afraid if you think there is a threat to an important relationship that you have. This is exasperated by living in a monogamous society that says that people are supposed to feel jealous and that you know that somebody loves you if they feel jealous. We can see this on pretty much every romantic comedy that has ever existed.
We’ve actually kind of culturally made jealousy an integral part of any successful, air quotes, “Successful” relationship.
Because that’s what we’ve seen.
Yeah. That’s so, I love that you bring that up. That wasn’t even in me when I was writing up sort of what I wanted to talk about, I wasn’t even thinking about that. But yeah, of course, we are fed that. There is sort of this storyline that if your partner isn’t jealous, then there’s something wrong with the relationship.
That’s right. He or she, or they don’t actually love you or whatever else the story or the meaning-making might be from that experience because it’s so unusual.
Now I mean, I love that you’re talking about jealousy also as a physiological experience.
Can you say a little bit more about that?
Definitely. When you think about the feeling of jealousy, like if you can even just put your eyes in and imagine the last time you felt intensely jealous. If you really immerse yourself in that memory you’re going to start to notice that your body is responding to that memory in a very real physiological way. When I’m feeling jealous, and of course our everybody responds slightly differently. When I’m feeling jealous my stomach starts to cramp, I feel a little nauseous, my chest gets a little tight, sometimes I’ll get a lump in my throat, my hands will start to sweat, my mouth will get really dry, my thoughts start to race. All these are examples of what your body does when it starts to go into a flight, flight response mode.
Which is what happens when your nervous system is experiencing more stress or stimulus than it can process, right? That there is enough fear in the system that it can’t regulate and it pops up into a fight/flight response. Your body is responding as if there is a real danger on this physiological level. I think that it’s important to know without going into a huge detour, that our attachment styles are going to impact our experiences of jealousy. Attachment theory states that essentially how we’re parented prenatally in our first few years of life, determines our attachment style. Of course, I think that when you dive deeper in attachment theory, you can see that we can have a learned attachment style, that our attachment behavior is relative to the partners that we’re with. This is a big conversation.
But, I just want to note for those of you that are familiar with your attachment style, that if you are not feeling really secure in your relationship. If you don’t have a secure connection with your partner, then it’s going to be more likely that you’re going to feel jealousy, and experience jealousy because you don’t have that stable foundation, and sense of security, and belief system that relations can be stable. I just say that because when we talk about jealousy, it’s really important to note that jealousy is a package. What I mean by that is that there are often other emotions that are related to jealousy. Maybe it’s anger, grief, insecurity, fear, there’s a host of other emotions that can come with jealousy, and a bunch of other issues that could be related to jealousy.
And so, it’s really important to kind of look at the big picture.
And to figure out if you want to defuse jealousy, we have to really understand it as a system. And, your level of security in your relationship is one facet of that system.
Which is fundamentally sourced by your level of security with yourself.
Well, I would say that it comes from our really fundamental experiences that we can trust, that we can be loved, and nurtured and have autonomy.
And so, it comes from having access to both. Some people, when they’re in relationships, and it gets really juicy, they fear a loss of their autonomy and they start to pull away and are trapped because they feel more safety and security when they know that they can ground themselves. Some people when they’re in relationships and it goes really good and you meet, they start to feel anxious that they’re going to lose the relationship, and they start to lean in and cling to it a little bit. But both are an effort to navigate the intensity and the fear around, are these relationships going to last?
One of the things that I say that I really advocate for, is to make any non-monogamous relationship work, I think you need three things. A mentor who’s done it before, community support and friends, and a coach or a therapist. The reason why I include coach or therapist is that there’s nothing like navigating non-monogamy to bring up all these core wounds, all these attachment issues, and we want to have the help of a professional to guide us through this experience. Because that’s one of the gifts of non-monogamy.
Is that, it offers a structure for self-growth, an opportunity for self-growth, that we need to be able to have the support to do that effectively and gracefully.
Totally. I think the same actually could be said for any relationships, even a monogamous relationship as well. If we’re really in it, it’s going to bring up our stuff, you know. I think that’s sort of the beauty and the potency of relating to other humans if we’re going to tend to that consciously and really use it as a growth opportunity, and a growth journey. It’s, yeah, it’s going to kick up our stuff.
Yes, there’s no doubt about that. I think that the difference that I see is that in monogamous partnerships, I’ve seen a lot of couples make their worlds really small and constricted, so they can avoid to the best of their ability ever feeling jealousy.
That’s one tactic that people can take. It’s not necessarily one that somebody can take if they’re committed to exploring non-monogamy. So, then what? If you can’t just simply do your best to avoid jealousy, how do you deal with it when it comes up?
Yeah, that’s I think a really awesome question that we are going to dive into when we get back from the break. Will you tell everyone where they can go to find out more about you and your work before we go to break?
Sure can. Check out my website, TurnON.Love at www.TurnON.Love.
Awesome, so we’re talking with Dr. Alison Ash about jealousy, love, and relationships. What do you do with jealousy when it happens? We’re going to talk about that when we get back so stay tuned.