Among those of us who are polyamorous - meaning that we carry on committed relationships with multiple people - there is a lot of talk about jealousy. It's regarded as an emotion for the weak and unenlightened.
I must be seriously unenlightened then, because I am a jealous, territorial, alpha-kind of man. My husband, Alex, and I have been together for five years. Our boyfriend, Jon, has lived with us for the past two.
For the most part we are happy. Like any relationship, we have our ups and our downs. Some days we are madly in love, other days we'd rather be left alone to watch TV, pay the bills and go about the normalcy of life.
Our relationship allows us a lot of room to explore with other people, both sexually and emotionally. We try to be honest with one another - and we try our best not to hurt one another. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we don't.
I still get that kind of heart-pounding and burning sensation all over my body whenever I picture either of my men with someone else. I want to stalk their lovers on Facebook. I want to follow Alex and Jon when they leave the house. Go through their phones. If I let myself, I can go a little crazy with jealousy.
Which is difficult, considering our lifestyle and the amount of times they are with other people.
The three of us met on a gay dating app, Scruff. Alex and I had a shared account, so we could talk together to other men we were interested in. When we met Jon, we intended it to be just another three-way. A one night stand. But we found a commonality in Jon: We found aspects of each of us in him, a way for both of us to connect.
Jon kept coming back. For pizza and movies, sleepovers, hikes. We took a trip to Vancouver together. The three of us had our first four-way. We said "I love you." We introduced Jon to our family members and friends as our boyfriend.
Watching Alex fall in love with Jon was a kind of strange torture. It was also beautiful. Learning to balance the torture with the beauty was a struggle.
I have lain in bed with the two of them as they slept, watching the way they turn at night, and wondered: Does Jon spend more time facing Alex or me? How long do they spend touching in their sleep? Do they notice when I move away from them, to the fringes of our bed? (Of course not, they're asleep.)
When Alex and I first started dating Jon, I would storm out of the room, slamming the bedroom door, waiting for one of them to come out and ask me what was wrong. I think I've kicked Jon out of the house four times in two years and threatened to divorce Alex at least that many times, if not more.
The obvious question is, then: Why do it? Why subject ourselves to that kind of pain, chaos and drama?
I have always loved the idea of monogamy - that one man would love me and only me; would want me and only me; would sacrifice everything for me, if it came to that. I loved the idea of someone being monogamous to me, I just wasn't able to return the favor.
So opening our relationship up to include more lovers allowed Alex and me to have our own private adventures. It was also like taking a crash course in how to handle jealousy. The first time I told Alex about another guy I was dating, our relationship almost ended. When Alex told me about a new guy he had met in Seattle, I thought my world would fall apart.
Of course, my world didn't fall apart. Instead, I had to confront my feelings. I didn't have to confront Alex or Jon, but myself. I had to spend time alone with my fears and insecurities. Because that is all jealousy is: fear. Of being abandoned. Of not being enough. Of being alone.
And the truth is, all the things we fear might happen. Alex might decide he loves his new friend more than me. Jon might decide to disappear to Mexico with his lover. These things could happen regardless of how jealous I feel today, tomorrow or next year. No matter how stable they seem, relationships fall apart all the time.
At least Jon and Alex and I are honest with one another. I get to share my fears and my joys with them. I get to be there for them as they do the same. And I fall more in love with them as we do this.
I have learned that love is limitless and vast. The more of it I allow in, the more it grows, the more I am able to be loved and to love.
And when the jealousy comes, because it still comes, I stop and ask myself: What am I afraid of? I remember how lucky I am. How loved I am.
The more people you add to your love life, the more drama and chaos. Three-way sex is awesome; three-way fighting is awful. There are a lot of moving parts in the polyamorous lifestyle. And sometimes that can feel overwhelming and unmanageable.
But for me, there is also this amazing network of support and love. An extended family of lovers who show up to support me. I've learned to let the people I love have their successes and their meltdowns. I've let them have their lives in spite of my fears. I love them for who they are, not for who I want them to be.