How to Combat Jealousy Like a Pro
Dating as a cruise ship crew member changed my relationships forever.
I dated a guy briefly when I worked on luxury cruise ships. He was a high-ranking officer and I was a manager of a revenue department. When you enter any sort of relationship with another crew member, you have to have a certain understanding that the relationship has a high probability of not lasting past the length of time you will both be aboard the vessel, if it lasts that long.
Cruise ship crew member life is fast paced. People fall in love, out of love and back in love in record time.
When I met Andrew he was tall, cool, calm, collected and had an alpha swag that was almost palpable. I tried not to drool over him, but I knew it was a matter of time before I gave in and let desire, and probably lust take over.
We started hanging out and to my surprise, he never made a move. Funny, I thought since his reputation on board was that of a major player in the love department.
Eventually, after about a week of connecting and a couple of glasses of wine, I got brave and asked him why he hadn’t even so much as given me a nice hug yet?
His response was one of the most honest and pure answers I have ever received from a man.
He calmly said to me “I do not agree with monogamy, nor do I commit; therefore, this can go one of 3 ways:
1. We can sleep together and never speak again.
2. We can continue to see each other on a sexual/romantic level and you are ok with the fact that I do not commit to one person.
3. We can continue to see each other on a sexual/romantic level and you SAY you are ok with the fact that I do not commit, but really you aren’t ok, you get upset when you can’t change me and I have to let you go and you wind up hurt and heartbroken.”
“You choose, though I can tell you the one that most often plays out…is number 3.”
I just looked at him crookedly in awe. I thought to myself, he doesn’t agree with monogamy? Is that even something you can disagree with? Ok, I get the non-commitment thing. What is his deal? And why am I so turned on by his honesty?
After that surprising conversation, we continued seeing each other with me giving my all at choosing number 2. I had just gone through some serious transitions in life and I was for the first time, attempting to live life solely for me. I kept telling myself, you don’t need nor want a man to “complete you”. I believed that. It was a part of my daily positive affirmations and, up to this point, I could feel it working wonders for my connection to myself and my ability to increase self-love.
And then, it was hard. Our connection was incredible. Our conversations lit my brain and soul on fire and I wanted to be around him all the time. I began longing for more of him even though I kept telling myself it wasn’t what I really wanted. It was almost like the preconditions were taking over.
Then one day he met me in my place of work for a quick chat before making rounds on the vessel. Mid conversation he caught a glimpse of another woman and excused himself, told me he would see me later and rushed to her side to continue walking away with his arm around her shoulder.
I will never forget that feeling. An imaginary punch to the gut that feels all too real for comfort. It was a sense or intuition of some sort. I just knew she was another someone he cared about. And I agreed to this from the beginning. I choose number 2, I reminded myself. But why did I feel so close to a jealous rage if I knew this all along? If I knew that a committed, exclusive relationship with this man was not what I wanted either? Why did the sight of them walking away make my head spin and fill my heart with sadness and make my eyes well with tears?
In a word, the answer to those questions is “society”. Society and the way I was raised told me the way to do relationships and love is that two people decide they like each other, they date, they enter a long-term relationship that leads to marriage, they buy the house with the picket fence, have 2.5 children, build a life together and live happily ever after never thinking about leaving each other or lusting after another person.
I was taught that if it doesn’t play out that way, that you are broken or not doing it right.
I was never taught that there are many different ways to love and be loved and that there is no limit to love, devotion, passion and desire except where you accept the limit to be.
Shortly after that emotion-filled situation, he became distant with me. I didn’t blame him though. He warned me. It was almost like I couldn’t stop myself from acting needy or jealous of the other people he had in his life. I found myself constantly comparing myself to her and to a whole slew of imaginary women I perceived he had connections with. My enoughness was dwindling daily and I was no longer the confident, secure woman he’d met originally.
Before a 4-day hiatus (which feels like weeks when you live on a ship) he mentioned that I should read a book called Sex at Dawn. He’d told me about the book before and I put it on the to-read list but I wasn’t in a rush until he said it this time.
He’d been so adamant about it, I decided to download it that day. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and absorbing. The book was a complete game changer. So many myths and taboos about human sexuality just melted away from my consciousness.
I felt, in a word, liberated.
Andrew and I reconnected just as I was finishing the book. We talked about what breakthroughs I’d had and he answered a lot of questions that were on my mind. He also held space for me to ramble about some of the concepts I was still attempting to wrap my head around. One of the major ones was the fact that I and most of the western world had been lied to when it came to learning about sex and sexuality. I had to forgive myself and a lot of the people from my past. It was a magical awakening and I was so grateful to have had someone so beautiful and strong to be there to support me.
I left that ship and moved on to the next not thinking that he and I would maintain any type of relationship, but we did. We became incredible friends and we are comfortable telling each other absolutely anything, but especially the things about our sexual vulnerabilities that we typically do not share with any others. I feel confident in saying that I will always have some sort of connection with him.
What I learned during that short time with him and what I continue to learn is that relationships are built from what you create. They can have faulty foundations or rock-solid, ready for anything foundations. It is completely up to you what materials you choose to build them from.
Before Andrew, my relationship foundations were perpetually wavering at best. They were built from what I thought they had to be like. They incorporated all of my insecurities and misbeliefs about love and sex. They had layers of guilt, shame, and jealousy.
Now, my relationships are very different. I have my own version of the three options like Andrew gave me. I tell potential lovers exactly what I am about and exactly what I will not accept. Guilt, shame and most importantly, jealousy are in those categories. Not allowing those into a relationship is a conscious choice that takes incredible amounts of self-awareness and self-love.
I tell people that I do not wish to control you and/or life in any way. You are free to make your choices as you see fit and I am always ok with them. Communication and no assumptions are how to best achieve what you really hope and desire.
When I think about seeing a person I love enjoying time and connection with another soul or while engaging in an activity where I am not a part of it, I turn my jealousy into compersion. Compersion is when you feel happiness and joy when the person you love is feeling happiness and joy with others and in other circumstances. It is the flip side of jealousy and adopting that principle into your life and relationships can make all the difference.
I am now in a committed relationship with a wonderful soul. He knows about connections and communication I have with others I care about, Andrew included. This was all new to him before he met me and I have had the fortunate opportunity to open his eyes in new and profound ways like Andrew did for me.
We speak regularly about what it would be like if we felt a connection with other people. We talk about what we think would happen if we felt like beginning new relationships and we constantly share how we feel, always practicing compersion over feelings of jealousy or guilt. We understand that when you limit your love you limit your true potential in all areas of your life.
We hope to set an example to others to break “the cycle” that so many people continue to repeat and let end perfectly brilliant relationships. What you and the people you care about and love build together, the joy, the fun, the memories, the life you share, should all weigh more than anything else.