I Imagine Him Leaving Her for Me
Using sexual fantasy and play to deal with jealousy
A friend recently reached out to tell me about a couple she’s been seeing. She’s really into them both, but sometimes she has this thought — maybe he will leave his long-term girlfriend for her.
“I know it’s not true, nor do I really want it, but it gets stuck in my head,” she told me.
I can relate, and from talking to other poly people, it’s very normal to feel this way. You’ve chosen ethical non-monogamy and yet you can’t help thinking…
In one of my first poly relationships, my new partner and I fantasized about running away together.
This fantasy was based on wanting to spend as much time with each other as humanly possible and to go on a grand adventure while riding high on NRE (a poly shorthand for the crazy “new relationship energy” often felt at the beginning of a romantic relationship).
We never said it aloud, but we both knew that were we to follow through on our fantasy, it would have meant leaving our other partners. As this was the first time I’d experienced such a strong desire to be with someone else, it both excited me and scared me to death.
In the end, luckily, we never acted on the impulse, and I found myself eternally grateful that my long-term partner Drake remained my partner. In later relationships, any time I felt a similar impulse, I was able to enjoy the desire while feeling confident I wasn’t going to act on it.
Most of us have spent our whole lives living in a world with monogamy as our only relationship model.
In a society where monogamy is the default, developing feelings for someone who isn’t your current spouse means you need to make a choice. It’s the classic love triangle that turns two love interests into rivals rather than friends.
In the situation of a man falling in love with two women, one of the women is undoubtedly portrayed as “the (evil) other woman,” and home-wrecker, or the guy is portrayed as a lying, cheating jerk.
To be fair, in a monogamous setup, this hypothetical guy is a jerk. He’s lying to both women, or, in the words of Ani Difranco, “You’ve been juggling two women, like a stupid circus clown, telling us both we are the one.”
Polyamory is an agreement to do things differently.
In polyamory, we agree that having loving or romantic feelings for multiple people is natural, and we agree (to varying extents) that everyone is free to explore these feelings and develop multiple romantic relationships.
This is of course far easier said than done. In actuality, social programming has a strong hold on our unconscious minds.
In the case of my friend, she added, “We made out while she was out of the room and stopped when she came back… it felt sneaky even though she said it was okay.”
Even with consent, there was a feeling of “sneakiness” around her connection with someone in a preexisting relationship.
But isn’t being sneaky kinda fun?
If you’ve made a conscious decision to practice non-monogamy, it doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly immune to all your previous, monogamous thoughts. It simply means you’ve made a choice, but that’s only the first step to building your polyamorous life.
The feeling of sneakiness might very well still be present, even if everything has been discussed and consented to.
Things that feel sneaky, that “aren’t allowed,” tend to be fun, and naughty, and arousing. Making out with someone else’s boyfriend, as far as our social programming is concerned, isn’t allowed.
How can we engage in this discrepancy between what we’ve been taught and the life we’re choosing to live?
If you get excited by the idea of being sneaky, why not play with it?
Sometimes I fantasize about Drake walking in on me with another lover. In reality, Drake is a sweet lover, which is wonderful, but the idea of him getting just jealous enough to fight off the other guy and have me for himself can be a turn-on.
Or maybe he’s so into seeing me being pleasured by someone else that he can’t help but to join in and increase my pleasure. (This fantasy has several variations…)
In reality, I’d make sure something like this never happened without everyone’s consent. It wouldn’t be respectful to put either of my lovers in a situation like this against their will.
In my fantasy though, I can do what I want. I can have fun and play out different scenarios. I’m not doing anything disrespectful if it’s all in my head, and it helps me acknowledge, work through and accept myself for thinking the thoughts in the first place.
Maybe the play is your own game, reserved for your solo fantasy life… or maybe it’s a game you share.
According to this NPR article, free-play is important because it, “builds new circuits in the prefrontal cortex to help it navigate these complex social interactions.”
While this article refers to childhood play, who says adults can’t also benefit from building some new circuits in our prefrontal cortexes? Especially adults who are in fact developing a new set of social rules.
According to this other NPR article on the benefits of playing into adulthood, play “helps [adults] maintain our social well-being.”
And isn’t that what polyamory is all about, social well-being?
When I was dating a couple, I had the opportunity to play out my fantasy of being walked in on.
Leslie knew her husband Dale and I would sometimes meet up and have sex before she got home from work. She agreed to let us use their space, she just requested that we be dressed by the time she got home.
This was a totally reasonable request which, I assume, helped her to feel more in control over her non-monogamous lifestyle. It’s one thing to know your husband is having sex with another woman, it’s quite another to walk in on it while it’s happening.
Still, when I shared my fantasy with the two of them, they made it happen for me — it became a game.
I showed up to their place an hour or so before Leslie got home and Dale and I went to the bedroom. We knew she was going to come home, and indeed, she walked in on us while we were in the throes of passion, so to say.
The reality of this fantasy ended up being a little sillier than I’d envisioned.
Because Leslie knew what she was getting into, she wasn’t surprised. She walked in and despite our current activity, she immediately began talking about how bad the traffic was.
Finally, shifting from work-mode to sex-mode, she grabbed her husband’s erection and said, “Looks like someone’s excited!”
Thinking about this now, I laugh. In my head, it was so much sexier.
Still, it accomplished a lot of what play accomplishes — I had shared something that I felt, they gave me the classic improv “yes and,” and we created a game from it. In the end, it strengthened the social bond between us.
Feelings of possessiveness for a partner is totally normal.
Experiencing impulses and having thoughts doesn’t automatically mean you want them to come true.
But it is important to acknowledge these feelings and find ways to process them. Play — whether through solo fantasizing or engaging in some fun role play with other people — can be a great way to do this.