What polyamorists can teach brides about getting over wedding jealousies

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Feeling jealous?

Recently, I've gotten a rash of advice questions about jealousy…

  • “I'm jealous of my friend's wedding date”
  • “I'm jealous of my sister's wedding budget”
  • “I have dress envy about my bridesmaid's dress for HER wedding”

I'm not sure why the jealousy is coming in such abundant waves right now, but it definitely is, and we definitely need to talk about it.

The best perspectives I've ever read on jealousy are from a book called “The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures.” And believe it or not, the jealousy advice is super relevant to the emotions that are coming up over your sister's wedding date, or your friend's wedding budget.

Here's the thing: jealousy is jealousy. And if any group of folks knows the delicate nuances of jealousy, it's polyamorists: couples who have open relationships. Because you think you're jealous of your friend's wedding date? Think instead about how jealous you could be if your friend was, say, DATING YOUR FIANCE. Because those are the kind of sticky emotions polyamorists work through. (Not always successfully, mind you.)

Rather than reinvent the jealousy discussion wheel, I'm going to offer some choice quotes from both The Ethical Slut, as well as an interview with one of its authors. Then we can connect the dots about how to use polyamorist's jealousy tools to tackle the petty stuff that can come up around other people's weddings.

First, when you think about jealousy, it's helpful to pick it apart and realize that it's not just one emotion. From an interview with Dossie Easton:

When I do workshops on jealousy … I often put this out to an audience, and I say, “What is jealousy for you? How do you experience jealousy?” And I get dozens of different answers; this person feels frightened, this person feels angry, this person feels abandonment, this person … goes into a raging territoriality, another person feels less than and feels like a worm and says, “I'm not worth anything.” It's very different for different people.For me, one of the things I discovered … was that my jealousy had a lot to do with massive insecurity. And so going to work on building that for myself was a great healing journey.

So first, as yourself: how is your jealousy manifesting?

  • Fear: “I'm afraid people will look down on my wedding”
  • Anger: “How dare she schedule her wedding the month before mine? How could she do this to me?”
  • Territoriality: “Bu that's MY geeky theme! How dare they have a Star Wars cake topper?!”
  • Inferiority: “Oh god, I suck. My wedding sucks. Her invitations look like Martha Stewart wet dreams, while mine look like a pre-school craft project. I'm worthless.”

Then, once you've isolated the actual emotion, stop and think about it. If you're afraid, what do you need to be reassured? If you're angry, what can you do to release it? If you're territorial, what can you do to establish your own sense of ownership and get your own turf? If you're feeling insecure or inferior, what can you do to feel more solid and awesome about your plans?

Rather than point all your seething/moping energy toward someone else's wedding and how it's bigger, better timed, and more awesome than yours, put your energy toward finding ways to feel better about yourself and your own wedding.

From the book:

The challenge becomes learning to establish within yourself a strong foundation of internal security … this is part of the larger question of how to grasp your personal power and learn to understand and love yourself.

Yeah, I took it there: we're talking about PERSONAL POWER.

Why to we spend so much time looking at other people trying to figure out how to feel about ourselves? Remember, your wedding is not a contest. Don't waste your time agonizing over other people's weddings and looking for all the ways yours doesn't stand up — focus on finding ways to feel more solid about your plans.

From that Dossie Easton interview:

So this is the other thing I think jealousy is for each of us: First of all, there is no one emotion, it's a whole bunch of different emotions. The thing that is sort of universal about jealousy is that we avoid owning it.We insist that it's not an internal response that we own or can change. We insist that we are helpless about jealousy, but that we have no control over it and that it has caused by [someone else's] actions.

So that righteous indignation, that sense of “How dare they do this me by picking a wedding date near mine”? Or that victimization, that sense of “Woe is me: I have been wrong and am sad and helpless to change it”? OWN THAT SHIT, GIRLS. Sad but true: the world does not revolve around you. Or me. Or any of us. Other people are going to do what they do, and you can't control it; you can only control your response and reaction to it. Unless you live in a bad romcom, chances that bride you're feeling competitive with didn't DO anything to you … she just did something. How you respond to it is up to you. Feeling indignant or victimized is one response. Feeling like you've got an opportunity to learn something about yourself and get stronger in your own confidence and self-awareness is another response.

That said, this isn't easy stuff. From the book again:

There is no graceful way to unlearn jealousy.

Amen to that. Even the polyamorists know that this is sticky, troubling stuff. Be patient with yourself as you work through it — but try to view it more as an opportunity to learn about yourself and build your confidence.

But I'm guessing some of you have your own great methods for working through jealousy over other people's weddings … now I'd like to ask you: What are your best methods for getting over insecurity about your wedding?

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Comments on What polyamorists can teach brides about getting over wedding jealousies

  1. Preach it! I was getting very jealous of a friend who got engaged after me, is getting married a month before me, has a much bigger budget, will look good in any dress, and decided to book her reception at the same site! It was a mixture of anger and fear and insecurity… I was overwhelmed by the green monster!

    But I just had to realize that every wedding is different and mine was going to be unique and special because it was simply mine. Her and her fiance don’t have the same connection my fiance and I have and vice versa. Everyone is going to experience our weddings in a different way because we are different people with different relationships.

    So I guess I get over it by putting some perspective on the situation and seeing that what’s mine is mine and what’s hers is hers and they’ll both be awesome because love and marriage is awesome!

    • Plus she can discover any unexpected issues with the venue and you can have a month’s head start on addressing them. 😉

  2. I run into the jealousy thing most often with academics, but it’s helped me learn to deal with it (although I’m not always successful). I try to honestly look at not just what the other person has, but how they got there. What did they sacrifice for it? What is their trade-off? Then I try to decide whether or not I would be willing to do that (usually, nope!). Or I look at what I have instead. (My friend got X scholarship, but I spent this or that time on a hobby or with my friends or my dude.) I am having a small wedding, but it means I get to spend far more time with each of my guests and my dude and I will be way more comfortable! I am spending more money than I had originally thought (I do see a little green when I think about how much more budget-conscious we could have been), but I also know we chose to have a fantastic venue, the food we want, a semi-pro photog, etc. My friends all had full caterers, but we’re getting awesome food! Yes, we’ll have to do more work setting it up, and cleaning up, but I also wouldn’t give up this food!

    • I try to honestly look at not just what the other person has, but how they got there. What did they sacrifice for it? What is their trade-off? Then I try to decide whether or not I would be willing to do that (usually, nope!).


  3. OK, about to own some Velveeta cheese here.

    When I am not so jealous I can’t see straight, I try to separate myself into two parts and have a little conversation. The Grown Woman self and the 5-yr-old self talk it out because for me, my jealous inner-monologue tantrum-throwing is pretty much my inner 5-yr-old freaking out.

    Treating myself like a child for a minute makes the dots easier to connect emotionally and then I can deal with it and talk myself down into a version of acceptance with a plan.

    “I am so jealous that her sweet parents are walking her down the aisle” becomes “ok, you’re really sad that you don’t get to have that experience, and angry with your parents. That doesn’t mean you suck. You can either ask someone in a parent-ish role to step in and approximate that experience for you, or decide to own the choice of a different experience as a decision rather than ‘what happened because you didn’t get what she gets’ and now you can have a candy and go play.”

    This doesn’t always work the first time. I have little mental tantrums and I can’t always soothe myself like this, but when it works, it’s very satisfying and also gives me a way to own more of what happens “to me” as “I chose to then do this” but hey, your mileage may very.

  4. Not to deflate the point balloon, I advocate self-aware behavior and self-analysis!

    And because this is an excellent article, but I’ve never understood the polygamy/polyamory mindset. To each his own, but if you’re insecure, or prone to jealousy, or even if you’re the most secure, independent creature on the planet…why would you put yourself in a situation where those feelings are tested and really grind your brain down daily? I mean, in my view, we all deserve to be with people who respect us and want to be with us naturally, and not to us and then others and then back to us when they feel like it. Thick and Thin, hence the wedding stuff and making a comitment.

    Weddings aside, I’ve never been clear even with the poly-amorous people I know…Where the trust is? None of them were very happy and in a constant state of flux and drama. Sure you don’t “need” your husband/wife and they’re free to live as they please and sure they’re “dating” your best friend…Relationships that involve commitment and intimacy between two people go the deepest, in my opinion. I’m sure they’re benefits to both types of relationships, and I don’t want to sound like such a traditionalist really. But I can see why a polygamist would write such good advice on how to deal with jealousy. Having to share the person you love and trust the most with other people either on the same level of emotion or physically…That’s an exercise in jealousy exploration not many of us should have to stand let alone explore.

    again, to each their own, but whatever you’re feeling I hope we all have the power/ability to articulate that and exit situations that may not suit our personal needs or personalities. And do not tear others down in the process.

    • I’m not sure if you’re asking for clarification on your point re: the polyamory mindset. I’m happy to add my 2 cents if that’s what you’re looking for! Respectfully, of course.

      • There is not always jealousy with poly relationships. That comes and goes. The key to poly, as with any relationship is trust. That trust in yourself that you are a great and wonderful person and the trust that your partner loves you and honors you. The fact that they love and honor someone else too does not lessen that. Poly recognizes that love is not diminished by sharing it.

    • Replying to some of Diana’s questions/assertions:

      My partners and I don’t consider ourselves “polyamorous”, we don’t like labels in general or some of what that one has come to mean specifically and we prefer to describe our behavior: we are consensually non-monogamous. For us, this “lifestyle” is what works best, and I’m pretty certain that we’d experience a lot more “flux and drama” if we tried to be monogamous. That’s a situation that would test my feelings and “grind my brain down daily”.

      At the risk of making this “me me me,” and only because you seem curious, I’ll describe a little how my relationships work. My husband and I have been married for six years and were together for about three before that. Throughout our relationship we have been open with each other about not being “good at” monogamy. Both of us agreed from the beginning that drawing arbitrary lines between “friend” and “more than friend” are counterproductive to us getting our physical and emotional needs met. We have had other short- and long-term partners, both together and separately. Currently, we each have another serious partner whom we’ve been involved with for a long time (4-5 years) – he has a girlfriend and I have a boyfriend – along with some others who we see more casually. For us, who we kiss or sleep with doesn’t diminish our feelings for or commitment to each other. We don’t _have_ to share each other, we CHOOSE to.

      HOWEVER, and this is a REALLY BIG however, that does NOT mean that it’s a free-for-all relationship/contact-wise; and I don’t know any CNM or “poly” or “open relationship” couples for whom that’s the case. As Dossie says over and over again in Ethical Slut, _communication_ is THE key to making a relationship like this work (and yes, probably to making any relationship work). My husband/primary partner and I have some strict/standard rules and discuss everything else extensively. Some of the rules are to mitigate physical risks and others to mitigate emotional risks. We’re honest about what risks we’re taking both physically and emotionally. We often find it useful to imagine a “worst case,” particularly with emotional risks, and then to discuss that. For instance, having serious relationships with other partners opens up the prospect that we’ll meet someone with whom we’re more compatible, who feels more like our “soulmate” or whatever than each other. That’s a risk we’re comfortable with, even more because of the marriage vows we’ve made to each other.

      As Diana says, trust is crucial, and none of my relationships would work without very high levels of trust on all sides. Consensual non-monogamy and polyamory are NOT about doing whatever you want with whoever you want (at least I’ve never seen them practiced that way).

      For us, consensual non-monogamy is not about constant change or threats and certainly not about tearing anyone down. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t feel like it frees me and my partners to experience more love and happiness rather than less. Seeing what some of my monogamous friends have gone through jealousy-wise, I’m afraid that “exercises in jealousy exploration” are not at all limited to non-monogamous folk. I’ve certainly experienced jealousy, but as Dossie (and Ariel) say, it’s OWNING it and TALKING ABOUT it that are important. As Dossie and Ariel and other commenters have noted, jealousy can be a lot of different things. In the relationships I’m involved in/connected to, jealousy is more often about time than about feelings or committment. I really have very little fear that my partner will leave me for one of his other partners, but I’m pissed if he doesn’t spend time with me he says he will. For us, being in this kind of relationship helps us to really know what’s important to us about each other, what we want to be “special just between us” and what we don’t care so much about.

      I very much agree that relationships that involve commitment and intimacy between two people are very deep and crucial relationships. They’re certainly the most important relationships in my life. I simply chose to have more than one one-on-one relationship.

      Thanks Ariel, for bringing this up and including what’s also one of my favorite books 😉

    • I’m in an open relationship, and it is such a relief. The thing that is most harmful about affairs is the lying and the thinking your relationship was one way only to find out its not.

      I don’t experience any jealousy so far … but that’s because my husband is fantastic at showing me how primary and important I am to him. I also like Dossie’s idea of agreements not rules, you can change the agreements if they stop working for you. And being open doesn’t mean being indiscriminate.

      I think I don’t struggle with jealousy because it is possessiveness of my partner that encourages me to be suspicious, so when I let go of the possessiveness I also have less reasons to be jealous if he enjoys an experience with someone else that I’m not interested in giving him myself (whether that be bungee jumping [because I’m scared of heights] or something more intimate).

    • Speaking as a poly person (currently planning a 10-year vow renewal/anniversary party for my triad, since we never really got to do a “wedding”), one of the things that is really important about jealousy — and I think Ariel pointed out well — was that different things cause jealousy, both in terms of triggers and underlying causes.

      Speaking only for myself, of course, but seeing my partner with another partner doesn’t make me jealous, and sex doesn’t make me jealous. But going to my favorite beach without me when I’m free, and it’s our special thing? That causes hurt and jealous feelings. If one partner is getting to do all the “fun” stuff while another is always left at home to do housework, that causes jealousy. And that tells us what we need to talk about, and find a different way to handle.

      Bringing it back to weddings, I work in the wedding industry, and see lots and lot of truly spectacular high-end weddings. And my ceremony…. is not going to be anything like that, which is mostly just fine, but a few things I do get jealous of; my budget does not extend to that kickin’ band or exceptional florist or elegant venue. But I take those jealous feelings as a sign that I need to do *something* to accommodate that loss that I’m feeling — allotting more time to an amazing iPod mix, making DIY alternatives inspired by that florist; the jealousy helps show me where some of my priorities are that I might not have realized otherwise.

    • my fiance and I are in an open relationship. (I have read the book also btw) and frankly I don’t ask people to understand us and our relationship, I ask them to respect it. We have lost countless “friends” because they thought that doing what were doing isn’t “right”. We kindly tell them “maybe its not right for you, or most other people, but its right for us”.

      A little background, I’ve basically grown up with him, he is my best friend we’ve known eachother for nearly 10 years and been best friends for that entire time, we’ve cried on eachothers shoulders through the breakups, my divorce, etc. We’ve been dating eachother for almost 3 years. Since we’ve known eachother for so long when we deciced that we other people just wernt doing it for us and that we couldn’t live without eachother, we both knew we wouldn’t be a traditional couple.

      As I stated some people didn’t take this too well, for the first time in my life I told everyone to shove it. I was happy, he was happy, neither of us jelous, and it was kinda the same as it was before. We of course had “rules” but that’s kinda a dirty word, more like common sense things with a bit of veto power. See he gets emotionally attached really easily when he likes someone, I’m the same way, but one of his endearing qualities is taking that like over the top, he makes girls feel special, I’ve NEVER been a jealous person so this never seems to bother me, what bothers me? When the girls latch on and won’t let the hell go. Lol. Girls that are convinced they have found THE ONE, we are all clear at the beginning and someone evrytime these girls want to make it muddy. I get to then play the best friend role as I call it and polietly remind her that it doesn’t work that way. She will usually leave in a kicking and screaming manner but oh well. Thus veto rights.

      When a chick calls me names or puts me down its time to go. We’ve hadgirls that originally wanted me and then both of us, then finally was intimate with him, and we would have to go through that same scenerio. I think its immaturity mostly, we are in our mid 20’s (I’m 25 he’s 24) most of the girls are 18-22.

      One last thing is that, not only does any relationship take the same amount of trust as well as respect that a polyamourous one does, we just find more ways of perfecting iit.

      We are all rushing towards the same place, whom am I to judge you or you to judge I for getting there with one or many people?

    • If you’re monogamous and happy, that is your choice. Why are you so bothered about other people’s choices? Who made you the judge over their lives?

  5. Yaaaaaay! We can all stand to learn so much from poly folks in regards to emotional responses and maturity. Not only am I thrilled to see y’all addressing jealousy re:weddings, but I’m so happy to see The Ethical Slut getting a bit of recognition from OBB. Whether or not polyamory is for you, the book teaches some great lessons and dispells a lot of myths about poly folks and varying types of non-monogamous lifestyles. So refreshing. Good job!

  6. I’m getting a little competitive after seeing a friend’s wedding. I feel especially competitive after hearing repeatedly about how great it was, especially especially any comments about how lavish or costly it was.

    I try to alleviate the jealousy bug by asking myself “Am I having the wedding that *I* want? The wedding that’s right for me and my fiance?” And when I say “yes” to myself, I feel validated. If I say “no” to myself, I see what I can do to get me closer to my goal.

  7. Sometimes I look at things that I would love to have for my wedding and I feel a little niggling of the green-eyed monster. When that happens, however, I go through a little process of self-questioning:

    1. Do you want it because you love it and it would make you happy, or do you just want it because someone else has it and it looks cool?

    2. If you truly love it, what would you need to do/sacrifice/purchase/work for in order to get it?

    3. Are you willing to do that?

    4. If not, is there an alternative that you might love just as much that is feasibly within your grasp?

    5. If no, then let it go. It’s just one thing, and there are so many things in life, beautiful things, heartfelt things, things that are your own. Just because you let this one thing go doesn’t mean that there isn’t a whole world of other possibilities out there for you.

    That goes for wedding decor, items, ceremony details, words, dates, etc.. etc… Let it go. When it comes down to it, there are probably only a small handful of things in relation to your wedding that your heart will completely break if you don’t have. Focus your energy there, and let the rest go.

    And when it comes to people, I have to heartily agree with the article. It is rare that anyone is doing something *to* you. More than likely they haven’t given a single thought about you or anything relating to your wedding. They’re just doing their thing. Own your reaction to it. The sometimes uncomfortable truth is that very little revolves around us, and very few people think about what things mean to us as much as we do. Sometimes it’s necessary to look at the situation from a more objective perspective.

  8. I went to two weddings in the last week, one for a good friend of mine and one for a good friend of my FH’s. I was kinda worried before each one that I would turn into a green-eyed wedding monster. And each wedding DID have a couple elements that I thought, “Wow, I wish I had thought of that or could do that!” But it was more of a wistful reflection than jealousy, because I prepared myself beforehand to stave off any jealousy. When I feel jealous about anything, or worry that I might fall victim to jealousy, I bolster my opinion of my own choices by reminding myself why I made those choices, what makes those choices uniquely reflective of me and (in this case) our upcoming wedding, and what makes those choices AWESOME.

    If I feel a bit jealous of an aspect of someone’s wedding, I try to think of ways I could change that aspect to fit into our wedding, to make it “ours” in a way that allows me to feel like I’ve been inspired instead of trapped by jealousy. Sometimes there isn’t a way to realistically fit an aspect of another wedding into ours, in which case I just sit back and enjoy the wedding porn!

  9. Respectfully, Maiden, I don’t think it’s quite accurate to assume jealousy is connected to immaturity. Jealousy is an expression of insecurity, and everyone, regardless of their self-confidence, is insecure about *something.*

    When you see someone who excels in or has easy access to something you’re immature about, envy and increased insecurity (manifesting as anger, fear, depression, etc.) is a pretty normal reaction, I think. It’s something that’s not specifically about traditional vs. non-traditional or budget vs. expensive weddings… but those situations can trigger the same kind of insecurities very frequently.

    And I consider myself an offbeat lady, but Martha totally has some cool DIY ideas. 😉

    • Good points, Sarah.
      And I do agree that Martha Stewart has some kick-butt ideas, offbeat or otherwise.

  10. I’m having some problems with this but as always it’s a little complicated….

    A friend of my FH’s is getting married a month before we are. He is very into having a ‘big wedding’ and putting a ton of money into it and ‘doing it right’ by WIC standards. So they are having a large hotel wedding with an ice sculptures etc and many many things I would never ever want but the kicker is…. his bride isn’t into it at all.

    She has all this money at her disposal and a groom that is very interested and she would just rather elope while I would love to have a huge wedding, much more offbeat but whatevs, and my FH and I are scraping together our budget ourselves….


    But when I get to this point I always remember that I have it better than most, an amazing relationship a family that loves me, a bridal party that is helping out more than I ever dreamed and a Fiancee who actually cares about having a wedding that is ‘ours’ not just a wedding.

  11. This doesn’t work ALL the time, but…

    I ask myself “would I want to literally be that person right now, in her exact experience?”
    As in, marrying HER fiance’? (Ugh, no). Having her parents? (No, they sound obnoxious). Working her job? (No way, not interested). “Ok then.”
    But like I said this doesn’t always work for some reason. :-/ *shrug*.

    Good timing on the article tho!! More articles like this!

  12. At the risk of sounding a little stupid, I want to say THANK YOU for this post.

    I know Jealousy is something we all suffer from and it is hard from many to think they CAN change it.

    When my Best friend was married a few years ago I think that I went threw the worst jealousy I have ever experienced. She was getting married one month before I was supposed to have had my “wedding”, (being already married, we were just having the party)But, the marriage had fallen apart and now my wedding was a divorce. I had to go to her wedding and be her marton, in different state and with no date. While I was there I went threw these Jealousy feelings which were very unlike me. I was angry with my friend, with my ex-husband, and with myself….

    Then I took a step back before they came to pick me up the morning of her wedding. When I looked at the situation from a different point of view(Like my BFFs)I saw myself being very selfish…. here I was on her special day thinking of myself… A big case of the “poor mes”. I TOLD myself that is was just a bad twist of fate her date happen to be close to when mine was, that my relationship had fallen apart so close to that time, and that is NO WAY would my bff ever try to give me jealousy in anyway. She loved me, Like a sister she loved me. When I reflected on that is gave me a much better feeling, the feeling of LOVE. Athough I was the ONLY one (besides mom, and grandma) that was dateless, I HAD a blast… I danced with my fellow bridesmaids (and even by myself) I help take care my bffs Grandma and I was there for her when she needed me.

    Jealousy can RUIN your good time, but ONLY if you let it. IF you tell yourself what you are feeling is wrong and that your being childish (which lets face it, you are), and go on with your life and have a good time, you’ll see how wrong you were in feeling that.

  13. I’m really quite lucky… Wedding jealousy – I don’t have it! I’ve been to great big Italian weddings…huge Greek affairs… *massive* Middle Eastern ones and “normal” western weddings, where the amount spent on that one day would make a pretty deposit on a house, and, at none of them did the envy monster make an appearance! I just let myself get right into the whole event, including the church bit (being a Pagan *and* a witch, a church isn’t really *me*, but, the windows sure are pretty!) and just enjoyed it for the spectacle it was.
    I’m now planning my own wedding, and still, no jealousy…not even “gee, wish I had more money” – I grew up in a family where we turned a coin over twice, put it back in our pocket and gave the matter a good hard thinking about before deciding we could live without it. And, the *only* person I’m going to be comparing my wedding to will be my Mum’s, who, along with the help of her Mother and two sisters did everything – cake and dress included! ^_^

  14. You know, I’ve had absolutely ZERO jealousy issues so far. (Other emotional issues, especially with bride worship? Yeah.) In any case, here are a couple of factors that I think helped.

    1. I’ve made sure to keep life full of things other than wedding planning. I make time to keep up with my hobbies (writing, photography) and working steadily on goals that won’t be realized until long after I put that wedding band on for the first time. It keeps me from thinking about my wedding too much and reminds me that while marriage is a life changing event it doesn’t have to (and WILL NOT) engulf my life.

    2. I make sure to talk to people who I know don’t give a crap about wedding planning shenanigans. Luckily I have a lot of guy friends that are awesome for this, but the female friends I have also don’t feel the need to talk about my wedding every time we chat. They might ask, but if they do I give a brief answer before finding a way to naturally change the subject.

    With both of these factors, the key seems to be keeping myself from psyching out about the wedding. It reminds me of being in band, where if I practiced something too much (a difficult 16th note run, for example) I’d flub it up big time. Keep the practice to a reasonable level, and I nailed it. I’ve tried to adopt the same policy for wedding planning, and it seems to be working so far.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Mighty. This post almost makes me feel bad about having the opposite reaction to planning: I think my friends are having weddings that are super lame (crystal and calligraphers and cake pulls? oh my!), and mine is going to be awesome. Is there a book for that?

      Seriously, though, it’s not a competition. It’s your wedding. The world doesn’t revolve around it, money won’t fall out of the sky so you can buy fancier monogrammed matchbooks than your matron of honor had, and it won’t make your parents any cooler than they were the day before you got engaged. The only thing it changes is that at the end of it all, you’re married. And since you shouldn’t really be getting married if you’re envying other brides’ partners, at the end of your wedding day, there’s nothing to be jealous over.

  15. Both on and off topic: I was a guest at a poly wedding the other year, and the couple promised to be each other’s primary partner for life, and to always consult the other, and put each other’s needs first.

    Pretty romantic in its own way. ;D

  16. We decided not to order invitations, and just emailed something my now-husband put together (which was gorgeous!). I would get a little twinge sometimes, seeing what beautiful keepsakes other people had, but then I’d think of how unique ours was and that helped. I did the order of service at the absolute last minute and needed a design for the cover. The invitation had a bird theme, but wouldn’t work for this. So I asked my mother if I could use a piece of calligraphy she did, with synonyms for “peace” forming the shape of a dove. She was honored that I’d asked, and told me several times how much it meant to her that I’d included her art in our wedding in this way. Thinking back on it, I wouldn’t do it any other way.

    Not sure what advice people can take from this, but it was a beautiful moment for me.

    • Just in case you didn’t already think of this, you could always print a copy of your invitations for yourself.
      Maybe it might need a bit of tweeking to work right, and it might take up more than an “invitation size’s” worth of paper and stuff, but I’m sure it can be done, it could even be made into a poster or something to frame for your wall, or could come out like a centerfold from your wedding album or something lol.
      But if it’s a keepsake you want, it CAN be done, I guarentee you.

      If you need a little help brainstorming, send me a pm or something and I’ll give you a hand.
      I put my “My Page” as my website link there.

      Ps the link is in my name, I just realised that.

  17. I don’t tend to get jealous very often, enviuos deffinately, being disabled and poor I’m constantly *sigh, if only*ing things that I wish I had but wont ever be able to, and I try to put that out of my head cause I know it’s not helpful, but it is really hard sometimes.
    But when I do happen to start to feel myself getting jealous about something, I turn it around, how would I feel if someone was mad at ME for *that*?
    And suddenly it’s like, whoa, talk about petty and self centered!

    It’s easier for us to think of someone else as being the bad guy, and ourselves as the victems, it’s just the way we are, and so to turn *another person* into the one feeling those things, it still allows us to remain the victem as we think about it from the other side, even though it is still our own initial thought, it’s easier to go “hmm, well, it’s not *their* fault that I don’t have what *they* have, and it wouldn’t be my fault if I had it and they didn’t…” and usually it just melts away.

    Just like what happens when I feel myself getting upset over something with my fiance, I think about how much I love him and how lucky I am to be with him, and that petty thing just dissapears, because it really doesn’t matter in the longrun, is it something I will remember a month from now? Is it something worth hurting him over?
    And the answer is almost always no.

    And so, along that same line, does that person having *insert thing here* actually hurt you in any way? I bet the answer is almost always no, and for the things that are “yes’s”, ask yourself, If you had *it* and they didn’t, would you deserve to have them be angry at you, and for them to take it away from you?
    I bet you get over it pretty quickly after that, and can focus your energy on maybe finding a way to make that *thing* seem completely unnessasary, and I bet you wont even remember it on your first aniversary. 😀

  18. Is anyone else having an extreamly hard time commenting or editing comments? It WILL NOT allow me to scroll down, AT ALL, it jumps right back up again, over and over and over, a little bit at a time, so I had to give up.
    It was fine with my first 2 comments, but after I tired to edit the second one, now it wont let me do it at all, comment or edit, without jumping, I had to give up cause I would type one letter, it would jump down to it for half a second, and then jerk it’s way back up again. Right now I am typing without looking at the screan so I don’t have to try to fight with it, which means this might be full of errors and typos as stuff, but I can’t post the other comment I was making because I never post something without editing and rereading it many times to make sure everything comes across right and is legible cause I typo like crazy otherwise.
    Sorry, this is not edited or even read once here, and I will delete it once we figured out whats going on.

  19. While I wholly advocate the topic that is discussed here – i.e., owning your jealousy and doing what it takes to bring yourself to a healthier, happier emotional place, I actually strongly disliked Ethical Slut, and I’ve read it twice.

    This is not to diss polyamory – I’ve been in polyamorous relationships and have polyamorous friends. The single largest reason I’m monogamous now is that my FH and soulmate is monogamous, and I really can’t imagine myself with anyone other than him. For me, that means monogamy.

    What I disliked in Ethical Slut was the emphasis that it put on “owning your own junk” actually de-emphasized discussing with your partner. For example, for the bride who’s feeling jealous that she perceives her friend’s upcoming wedding to be better than hers: I say, talk to your friend. Tell her you love her and you’re feeling a little jealous. A good friend would give me a hug in that situation and be willing to listen to me and validate my pain. I’d be willing to bet that if the two of you could discuss it, she’d reassure you that she had no intention of trying to outdo you, and also that there are aspects of your wedding that she feels insecure about (she has the bigger budget, but she likes your color scheme better, etc.) and the two of you can share your experiences.

    Bottom line, do what you can to sort out your emotions, but don’t do it in isolation. Sharing your hurt, insecure, jealous feelings with others is important to building a deeper relationship with your partners and friends.

    • Abby, I COMPLETELY agree with your critique of The Ethical Slut. While the chapter on jealousy is great and the book as a whole is an excellent conversation starter, I found the de-emphasis of partner responsibility to be a sticking point for me when I read it 10 years ago. That said, I think any book that can get people talking and thinking creatively about their relationship paradigms is a good thing. The fact that I disagreed with much of the book actually made it that much more interesting to discuss.

  20. I really dislike The Ethical Slut; I find there are better books out there on the subject, but that’s just my opinion. I feel like it pushes the idea that you’re a ‘bad’ poly person if you ever feel jealous or insecure, and I think contributes to that annoying subset of the poly community that sees polyamory as “more evolved” than monogamy.

    Of COURSE poly people get jealous. We are human beings! We all have days when we feel ugly or insecure or want attention. It may not be the traditional “I think my spouse is cheating on me” kind of jealousy, but there’s another kind that has more to do with allocation of resources, so to speak. Ex. when your SO is out on a hot date and you’re at home alone folding the laundry, it’s hard not to feel a bit twitchy about that sometimes. Or especially when your SO is in the throes of NRE with somebody else, it is extremely normal to feel antsy about the time and energy he’s devoting to that new person. You want to make sure you’re still getting what you need and that the time, energy, love, whatever you want to call it is being allocated in a manner that’s fair & reasonable. One of the biggest misunderstandings I hear about nonmonogamy is that we don’t care if our relationships end–hey, we’ve got 5 other SOs where that came from! And that is very far from the truth most of the time.

    The thing I think I’ve learned the most from being nonmonogamous has essentially nothing to do with jealously; instead, it’s about how to communicate. Poly people talk. A LOT. We never shut up, srsly, haha. Because you can’t rely on assumptions or wishful mind-reading when you’re in a poly relationship; you have to clearly articulate your needs, wants, and comforts, and listen to your partner’s, and compromise. This is great for ANY relationship but I think in more traditional ones, it tends to fall by the wayside: we assume that our SO believes in the same “rules” that we do. We assume that being “boyfriend and girlfriend” means you do (or don’t do) X, Y, Z. I’ve even known people who assume that 3 or more dates with someone means you are automatically in a monogamous relationship with them. This works, sorta, but it’s also a brewing ground for trouble & misunderstanding.

    We went into our relationship with zero expectations of how it “should” be, and we had to figure out all the boundaries and expectations on our own, as they apply to this relationship and this relationship only. That was simultaneously incredibly stressful AND the coolest thing ever. 😛

    • shorty j, I just left a similar response to Abby just upthread, but I just wanted to repeat that I’m totally with you on your criticisms of The Ethical Slut. I still think the Jealousy chapter is one of the best pieces I’ve read on the topic anywhere, but the book as a whole has more to argue with than agree with, for me. Do you have other books you’d recommend? I know people who love Opening Up, but I haven’t read it.

      • I’ve heard good things about Opening Up too, although I’ll also admit to not having read it.

  21. My wedding took place over a year ago, and now, as I fulfill my MoH role for my best friend, I feel slight pangs of jealousy in the form of regret (“damn, I wish I looked as good in my dress as she does in hers,” “I wish I’d picked an indoor venue like she did so the rain wouldn’t have mattered,” etc.). It helps for me to get really enthusiastically involved in her planning – after all, I helped her pick that hot dress. Being really genuinely happy and excited for someone eclipses jealousy most of the time.

  22. My mother-in-law has a lot of money and paid for the bigger part of my wedding. Then she got engaged after we did. AND decided to get married sooner! That was not exactly easy to deal with,I thought she would make her wedding bigger and more fancy, and no one would even care for ours. But I tried my best not to show what I felt, because I could hurt a lot of people and not make any difference. I am SURE no one knew I ever felt jeallous about it, not even my husband.

    The thing that I always tried to stick with was that a wedding comes with so much, that we NEED to to focuse on what will take you forward, and jeallous doesn´t take you anywhere but backwards. Make people grow apart, fight, hurt each other for nothing. And I guess that what made her decide, after we announced our engagement, to get married before us, was her own jeallousy! She had financial power and could beat me on this one, so why not??? And I bet she did´n even think about the reason, that didn´t cross her mind at all, she just decided she had to get married. You see, I love her, but even the people we love are able to feel jeallous. And will do stupid things to feel good about themselves (and not to hurt you). It´s up to us focusing on our own path. You will not STOP feeling jeallous, but you will recognize what it is that you are feeling and will be able to act – or not act at all – instead of react.

    In my case, I stopped feeling hurt and started to help her, participate, get envolved, since she only has sons. I decided to be the daughter she never had. I decided that her wedding was going to be like a training for mine and that would help me a lot. And it did! I learned a lot of things that I didn´t know about weddings and when my turn came, I knew exactly what I did and did not want, what was and wasn´t important to me, what works and what doesn´t. It ended up being great. And my wedding did not loose it´s own shine at all because of hers. Instead, it gained it´s own importance because we were able to make it even more significant and unique – and it was easier because I had training! 😉

    I guess I did okay. =)

    Most important, we all came out of this closer and loving each other more than when we began.

  23. I don’t relate to any of those reasons – where’s sadness? Disappointment, too, I think. Is that inferiority? I don’t feel bad about myself for not being able to afford my dream wedding – I did everything I could to try to be prepared but the economy had other ideas and my budgeting + PT jobs aren’t helping as much as I want. I’m happy about a lot of things, but I’m sad because I can’t have my dream wedding. I want to cry when I think of the fact that we can’t afford a venue with a dance floor because I wanted the father-daughter dance. I can’t even have the low-end version of my dream wedding. I feel sad that I don’t have someone to pay for my wedding like my friends do, and realistically, I can’t raise the 20K I would need to have our dream wedding. When they’re complaining about a 50K budget or complaining that they have to invite too many people, I am envious I don’t have similar problems but I’m not angry at them. I can see why they’re upset, it’s still stressful. I’m trying to put on a budget wedding without food or drinks, but anything I can afford all involves sacrificing the amount of people I can invite, and having people I like near my home while I wear a dress and celebrate with music & hopefully nice pictures. It’s really hard to do that under 5-10K in my city.

    • Alli, the emotions I listed were just a few examples. As noted in the post, everyone has a different emotional response with jealousy, yours being sadness and disappointment.

      • Oh…sorry, I was asking rhetorically but emotion got in the way of proper tone and sentence structure. 🙂

        The other comments are helpful. I don’t think I realized how sad I was until now.

  24. I am so glad to read this. I’m offbeat. I never wanted to get married, much less plan some traditional “dream wedding.” So when my husband and I decided to get married (more because I had been laid off, was broke, homeless, and health-insurance less than anything else) I kinda threw a wedding together last minute. People kept making a huge deal out of things, asking me all the time, “Are you excited about the wedding?” and it drove me crazy because I felt like there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t excited. Just apprehensive and resentful.

    Our 1 year anniversary is this Halloween, and I still don’t feel “right.” I’m jealous I didn’t get to be an excited bride, I’m jealous my wedding was haphazard, and – worst of all – I’m jealous everyone else seemed to get more out of my wedding than I did, especially my mother-in-law, who was SO excited about the whole thing and still talks about it.

    But, even though I can’t make these emotions disappear, I still feel so small and petty! It was just one day out of my whole entire life! Get over it all ready, sister! It’s nice to read that there are other women out there who maybe weren’t obsessed with the perfect wedding (anytime I hear “every woman dreams of getting married,” I feel violent) who still feel niggling jealousy here and there. I have partners in shallow-dom!

  25. Great article 🙂 it seems next year is weddingpalooza for girls at my work, so theres lots of planning and discussions going on. I think I have the smallest and tightly budgeted wedding by a LONG shot. I was getting angry that one girl is spending a significant amount on her wedding (like, six times what I’m spending) but it’s pretty clear I was just jealous.

    At the end of the day though…if someone were to give me that same amount to spend on the wedding, I’d end up putting the bulk of it into the bank and still have a small wedding.

    I have to remind myself that I’m having the wedding I want. I wouldn’t want theirs! Usually I’m positive and supportive with whatever people choose, it’s just when it comes to costs that my demon rears its head…

    I guess I’m just real tight 😉

    • One bride’s small and tightly budgeted is another’s intimate and personal.

      It’s all in your perspective, Rebecca. Rock your little, inexpensive event. I know you can and will, and it will be better for YOU than the big expensive number your co-worker is throwing.

  26. YES YES YES. Man, I’ll tell you that owning jealousy and figuring out its connection to insecurity (as well as passive-aggressiveness and its connection to insecurity) has been one of my favorite parts of growing up. I was raised by a fantastic but dramatic mama (i.e. she pulled me out of girl scouts because she couldn’t get along with the scout leaders), and it was amazingly liberating to unlearn that toxic crap.

  27. You know, the only jealousy I’ve had is that my friends AREN’T planning weddings! Most are single, and two are in 5+ year relationships, but no thoughts of marriage.
    I’m jealous of their disposable income going to new purses and video games, while I dump cash into the Wedfund. XD They’re all moving into new houses and apts, taking extra school classes and I’m like “Stupid linen rental is expensive. *grumble*”
    But in the end, I know it’s just my stress manifesting in a new an exciting way; because they’re all wonderful ladies who are helping me in every way they can.

  28. Love your perspective on jealousy. Being in an open relationship myself, I practice parts of embracing compersion (the opposite of jealousy). It is not always easy, simple or right. But it can be very empowering to let the ugly and unnecessary jealousy go. You have far more to gain than to lose, especially for those in traditional relationships.

    Opening up about truly understanding each other is wonderful. And traditional relationship boundaries make expressing those thoughts almost impossible, even if no one is going to act on them. Just imagine how good your relationship could be if you and your guy could really be honest about what you thought about the opposite sex. Embrace it. It is beautiful. (And those thoughts are there whether you are honest and open or not.)

  29. Being the horrible person I am, I tend to look at the photos of recent weddings amongst friends and family and feel a bit superior. “Oh, you had your engagement pics taken by some super expensive Manhattan photographer?” Mine were free and don’t look nearly as contrived and chintzy. “Aww, look at the little David’s Bridal made-in-China tiara.” Mine is handmade by me from Swarovski crystals and cost about $10 total. A second cousin got married in the same city as I’ll be married in about a year ago and truly every photo is an incredibly bland WIC wet dream. I can’t begin to describe the giggles I get knowing my wedding will be about 500x cooler and more interesting than theirs and I can’t wait for the pics to reach their end of the family.
    Course I’m not exactly the only one involved. The maternal side of my family is deeply split through several generations between the “cool” side and the “holier than thou” side. I’m of the cool side and my cousin is of the other, so my wedding is being compared on every single thing against theirs and there’s quite a bit of pressure. Their invites were multi-layer tissue paper and bling affairs, mine were deadly simple but with stunning and unusual art on the front. I know for a fact at least one of the invites has been shown to the other side by now. So everything in my wedding has to be unusual and interesting in order to keep the cool side cool and the holier than thou side still thinking we’re hedonistic freaks. Being offbeat even in my lite way means manufacturing jealousy.

  30. Thank you so much for this post! I have been struggling with jealously ever since I got engaged and half a year later a friend got engaged. She picked a date earlier than mine and got a dress similar to mine. It literally enraged me that she rushed through the engagement, I felt like she was trying to beat me. Thankfully my fiance has been there to support me and listen to me, and to remind me that the wedding doesn’t mean anything in the end, what matters is the marriage.

  31. I’ve been experiencing some wedding jealousy, but I’m not quite sure from reading this article what positive steps I can take to make things better.

    My fiance and I got engaged but I wanted to have a two year engagement- I have anxiety and don’t handle big changes well, so I wanted time to adjust, plus we were both moving and starting new careers. Then my older sister got engaged and pressured me to wait ANOTHER year so she could get married first. At first, I was fine with it, because I was going through all the anxiety of being engaged, but now I get jealous from all the enjoyment and fun she’s getting planning her wedding.

    Oddly enough, it’s not the wedding itself, necessarily, it’s the fairy tale love story that I am jealous of. My sister and other couples in the popular mommy blogs I read just seem SO HEAD OVER HEELS GUSHING in love with each other. Yes, I went through a period where I could not stop staring at how incredibly good looking I felt my now fiance was, but now? I love him, we’re insanely compatible and he’s my best friend, but I wouldn’t say I’m head over heels for him anymore. That makes me feel insecure about our relationship- that the only marriages that last are the ones that are OMGINLOVE, so we’re doomed, or that I won’t feel as happy as she does on her wedding day.

    • In poly, the word we have for that shiny gushy stage is “NRE (new relationship energy)” or “Disney Chemicals”. It’s the Falling in Love stage, and it’s great, but it doesn’t last. Being in love, at that contented but not rose-colored glasses stage, is, IMHO, what makes a marriage last. You’ve had more time to let things deepen. (I’ve been with one of my partners over 16 years, and the triad we formed has lasted well over a decade; I’ve been through both, several times.)

      Everyone’s wedding day experience is different, but I don’t think you will be any less happy on your day because the two of you have a settled, time-tested relationship to celebrate.

      Good luck!

      • Disney chemicals has a real, science term too – limerance. Apparently one way to recall what that feels like when you’re in the mature/compatibility phase is to talk about when you first met.
        Don’t know if you’re married by now or not, but it could be really nice to incorporate each of you telling that story, or another lovely time from early in your relationship – not only for the residual “buzz”, but also because everyone else in the room will no doubt feel the love as well 🙂

    • I know everyone is different, so giving an example from my life might not be the best advice, but eff it, that’s what I’m doing. When I got married, I felt horrible because everyone was gushing about weddings, and flowers, and god knows what else, and I wasn’t excited at all. I don’t feel like my now-husband and I are soul mates or anything. But we had a financially responsible wedding and are now three years in and going strong – which is more than I can say for a lot of other young marriages – because, as you put it, we’re compatible, and he’s my best friend. So I don’t think you need to panic!

  32. I’ve experienced this from both sides. When Husband and I first got engaged, one of his friends’ long term girlfriend got super jealous that we were getting married and informed her (now) husband that they were getting married too. He agreed since it had always been their plan. She and I started talking about wedding plans. She asked about our chosen date, our colour scheme, catering, photographer, everything. I told her our plans. Married on the beach, August 24, 2013, yellow and blue, BBQ reception, not worrying about a photographer, etc. Then, a few days later, I received an invitation to their wedding. August 25, 2012, yellow and blue, BBQ reception, held on the beach. I didn’t notice the similarities. Then she came to me and was all “I understand if you guys can’t make it since it’s the same day as yours. I suppose our friends will have to decide if they are friends with us or friends with you. Also, my husband already asked your best man to be his best man. Sorry” Understandably confused, I informed her that my wedding was actually a year after hers because “who plans a wedding in a month?” We went to her wedding. It was lovely. We she handed me her not-so-awesome favour and asked what my totally-awesome favours would be, she burst in to tears when she found out that ours were way better than theirs. So, I stood there, on the beach, with a bride who literally tried to steal my wedding and reminded her that the fundamental goals of our weddings were different. The goal of her wedding was to be married to her husband. The fundamental goal of my wedding was to be married to my husband. And we would both be very upset if we ended up married to the wrong man. She had to agree.

    Fast forward to three months before my wedding, another friend gets engaged. We were trying to be very thrifty with our wedding and have the whole thing for under $1000. She, on the other hand, had an unlimited budget. Watching her posting about all of her amazing vendors on facebook made me unreasonably jealous that her wedding was going to be awesome and mine was going to be THE WORST. Then, I remembered the advice I had given to my friend nearly a year before. At the end of my wedding, I will be married to the best guy for me. I wouldn’t want her wedding because then I’d be married to her fiance, and that, would just be terrible.

    Now, it doesn’t even seem to matter. We’ve all been married for awhile now and couldn’t be happier with our weddings or our marriages. In the end, we all won.

  33. I have massive, massive jealousy issues. I will surf pinterest and be super jealous of people who got to have tiny receptions. Due to cultural considerations (a.k.a ‘being Asian’), my wedding is not mine. Rather it is a time for my parents, future in-laws and partner to repay favors and show off to friends and relatives. I sat by, watched sadly, threw tantrums as my dream 50 person reception by the beach turned into 250 person Chinese monstrosity filled with people I have never met before. But I guess I get something to be thankful about, because after much crying and fighting, my partner realized how unhappy the parents pleasing event was making me and agreed to let me have a tiny reception just for our closest friends. But I’m paying for it with my own money because I know that if there ever was a family fight, someone somewhere would dredge it up again. I’m still jealous of people who don’t have to do the big, Chinese thing but I’ll take what I can get and only remember the memories I like. At least I got a small second reception, other people here won’t have the same luck all the time.

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