Matt's note: In this first segment of a two-part guest post, my wife Vee writes about self-esteem. In the second segment -- I'll publish it next week -- her theme will be jealousy.
Right-ho, love: step out from the wings!
Earlier this year, I read Polyamory in the 21st Century by Deborah Anapol, a book I thought would make me roll my eyes and shake my head in disappointment (as most other polyamory books have done for a variety of reasons), but didn’t. I recommend that you read it, especially if you’ve disliked other polyamory books in the past. I strongly resonated with two chapters specifically, on the polyamorous personality and the challenge of jealousy.
Anapol lays out the traits that polyamorous people should have to be effective in their multi-partner relationships. Obviously, not all people who are in poly relationships have all of these traits, but the important ones are a talent for intimate relating; high self-esteem; the ability to multi-task; a love for intensity; appreciation of diversity; communication skills; an independent streak; team spirit; commitment to growth; sex positivity; flexibility, creativity & spontaneity; high intelligence; and accountability.
I realized that I am allied with quite a few traits, but I did spend time reflecting on one that fluctuates for me occasionally, depending on the time of the month: self-esteem or self-worth. Knowing that one’s intermittent low self-esteem is hormone-driven does not make the knowing any easier. I am usually a very happy, positive, cheerful and energetic woman, but there are times when those attributes are replaced by low self-esteem, and intense sadness and jealousy.
Addressing high-self esteem, Anapol states that, “any intimate relationship is difficult without a sense of self-worth, which is not dependent on validation from someone else” and that “relying on a partner to make you feel desirable, special or loveable inevitably leads to wanting to control and to possess this source of positive regard.” Wanting to control or possess partners is a horrible, jealous feeling. She also explains that, “a partner’s attraction to someone else, whether or not it’s acted on, will be a threat if you need constant reassurance that you’re ok” and that -- in contrast to low self-esteem -- high self-esteem “makes it possible to face the unknown without excessive fears. It transforms problems into challenges that can be met with courage, persistence and creativity.”
Imagine feeling very little self-worth for up to three weeks out of a given hormonal cycle. Some of you ladies reading this don’t have to imagine this because, like me, you feel this as well. It is a time when I am most prone to crying, sadness and feeling that my relationships are hopeless, about to break apart, and when I doubt that anyone loves me. When this happens, my imagination runs away with me and I am convinced that one of my partners is near to breaking up with me. It is a time when insecurity and jealousy emerge and when courage and creativity evaporate. Luckily, Matt and Larry are my ‘Vee whisperers’ and they are infinitely patient and comforting until the intense emotional crisis passes. And, once these feeling pass, I am back to my happy, positive, cheerful and energetic self!