Managing Jealousy in Open Relationships

Managing Jealousy in Open Relationships

Last update: 09 November, 2015

Jealousy and open relationships go hand in hand. In fact, jealousy is the biggest obstacle to the success of such relationships. It may seem contradictory because, after all, people who choose to have these relationships seem to be on top of it. But in reality, there are very few people who never experience jealousy.

The problem is that many people who embark on such relationships, so liberal and modern, do not consider that jealousy may affect them and their partners. It is important to note that jealousy will arise, and we must accept this fact by assuming that it will happen and by being prepared with the appropriate strategies to address it.

Most experts agree that jealousy is a natural reaction that, when experienced in an exacerbated way, can lead to irrational, harmful behaviors.

While monogamous couples deal with their fair share of insecurity, jealousy in open relationships can appear in shocking and complex forms.

What is jealousy?

Jealousy refers to fear of change, fear of losing power or control in a relationship, fear of shortages and loss, and fear of abandonment. It is  a reflection of one’s own insecurity about one’s dignity, and anxiety about being suitable as a lover.

For every jealous feeling, there is a much deeper emotion than the jealousy itself. Behind it, there is an unmet need or a deep fear that was not fulfilled. Recognizing these fears and unmet needs is the key to unmasking jealousy and taking away its power.

In an open relationship there are some ways to overcome the ghost of jealousy and contribute to having a happier, longer lasting open relationship.

How to manage jealousy in open relationships

Get rid of the stigma

Open relationships are still stigmatized relationships, even though they are now being talked about more freely and are more popular. Members of open relationships often feel guilty when jealousy arises. For those in these relationships, jealousy may seem like a personal failure.

Establish guidelines for action

Just because the relationship is open does not make it a “no rules” relationship. It is therefore important to set boundaries and limits of permissiveness for the two partners to play the same game.

Learn to care for yourself

In open relationships, each person must assume responsibility for him/herself and learn to calm down and regulate their emotions. The ability to cope with jealousy demands a personal source of confidence that comes from within, not from the love of the couple.


Jealousy must be declared in order to achieve respect and understanding. Therefore, ignoring or belittling the other’s feelings will only cause the jealousy to increase. In open relationships, you should listen to the other person, reassure them, especially with frequent gestures that express that they have nothing to fear, so they feel safe in the relationship.

Understand the positive side of jealousy

When jealousy arises, it is a good time to explore the causes that motivate it, reflect on the kind of relationship you are in and whether it’s really the kind of relationship you want. Jealousy also provides a good impetus to rethink beliefs and mature as a couple.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.