When you’re in a relationship, you get all sorts of messages about how you’re “supposed” to feel. This is true whether you’re in a monogamous relationship or an open or polyamorous one.
But the truth is, we don’t always feel the way we’re “supposed” to feel. And that’s ok.
In this video, I explore and unpack a few relationship messages you might have heard, how those differ slightly depending on your relationship structure, and what to do if how you’re feeling runs against the grain.
When we’re in a relationship, there’s all sorts of pressure to feel a certain way. Sexy yet content, adventurous yet stable, exciting yet reliable.
In the gay community, we feel all the same pressures as everyone else to find a relationship, to be happy and fulfilled and satisfied in that relationship. And we also sometimes feel an additional pressure to prove that gay relationships can be just as successful as straight ones.
(PS, let’s unpack what success looks like in a relationship in another video)
How you’re supposed to feel is also shaped by the structure of your relationship.
When it comes to how we relate to our partners and how our partners relate to other people, our culture has some pretty strong opinions. From love songs and music videos to movies and TV shows, we get the message loud and clear that you’re supposed to feel angry and jealous if your partner’s interested in someone else, or even if someone else is interested in your partner.
But when I was monogamous, I just didn’t get it.
I didn’t feel jealous or angry if my partner was interested in someone else, or at the the thought of them being with someone else. Sometimes I felt excited, turned on, curious. Sometimes I just felt indifferent. I honestly didn’t think about it all that much. I was pretty secure in the relationship I had and still have with my boyfriend Peter. And so the idea of him loving someone else or being sexual with someone else, or someone else being interested in him just wasn’t threatening to me.
But I mean, I get it. I get why some guys feel angry or jealous. The entire mainstream cultural relationship paradigm is set up around sexual and romantic exclusivity.
And even just being in a relationship in the first place is often seen as the ultimate sign of worth and value.
Guys in particular are often not taught much nuance around our feelings. We aren’t taught to get in touch with them. Yeah, good, bad, angry, sad, happy, horny, we get those sort of big, broad strokes feelings. But we’re often not taught to really get in touch with how we’re feeling and why and what to do about that.
The thought of your partner being with someone else can totally be threatening. But it isn’t always, and it doesn’t have to be.
Even those of us in open or polyamorous or monogamish or sometimes-we-have-threesomes, or any other type of not totally monogamous relationship can think that we’re supposed to feel a certain way.
We might think that we’re always supposed to be excited about having a threesome. Or that when our boyfriend goes on a date, we’re always supposed to feel compersion, which is joy at another person’s joy, sort of the opposite of jealousy. And many of us do. I know that I do.
When one of my boyfriends is dating someone new, or gets back from a really fun hookup, or is just gonna do something special with someone he cares about, I am like genuinely excited for them.
But sometimes it can be more complicated than that.
Those good feelings aren’t the only feelings. Sometimes I also feel jealous or insecure, lonely, sometimes I’m frustrated.
Now, I actually think that ethically non-monogamous relationships can be really helpful in guarding against those feelings of jealous and insecurity, and helping me to feel more fulfilled and secure. I know that in my own life, that’s true. But non-monogamy isn’t this magic cure-all.
Being in a relationship is two or more people coming together and choosing to integrate their unique, independent lives.
And that takes work. Despite what myths about my other half or you complete me might lead you to believe, no two people fit together exactly perfectly all the time. And that’s okay. Being in a healthy, fulfilling relationship is about sharing values, about finding a common vision, and about choosing to grow together.
Whether you’re monogamous or open or polyamorous or something else altogether, that might mean feeling things that you aren’t supposed to feel sometimes. And that’s okay.
Am I alone in this? I can’t be the only one. I would love to hear from you about some times that you have felt ways that you aren’t supposed to feel in your relationships. Let’s dish it out in the comments over on YouTube
If you have a question about relationships (or if you just want to stay hi), you can message me here. And if you want to dig a little deeper, you can schedule a free relationship coaching consultation call here.