Giddy Presents The Naked Truth: How To Not Be Jealous In A Relationship
I'm an AASECT-certified sex therapist and licensed professional counselor-supervisor, based in Austin, Texas. I've been in practice for 14 years, including working in corporate settings, higher education and private practice.
If you've got questions you want to be answered in future columns, email me at email@example.com. Privacy in all matters of intimacy is very important to me and any questions answered in this column will be entirely anonymous.
Enough about me, let's talk sex.
My partner is a bit of a flirt, and even though we have a strong relationship, I do feel jealous. Nothing comes of their flirting, but I feel neglected and hurt. Is it my fault?
Kendall in California
Nobody wants to go out with their partner and feel left out or have others fail to realize the two of you are together. You go out to enjoy yourselves.
Healthy relationships are built on trust and respect versus unhealthy relationships, where the foundation may consist of fear and doubt. I like that you have a strong relationship because it creates a safe space to openly talk to your partner about feeling jealous. But it's crucial to consider the approach.
Coming from a sex-positive perspective, I like to avoid negative words that can be accusatory because I want to be heard rather than have the person I'm talking to become defensive and shut down.
Acknowledge that their outgoing personality is something you love about them and when you go out you would really like to enjoy more of their energy being applied to you. Because that's what makes you feel like you have such a strong relationship.
If you own your feelings, rather than blame them for your jealousy, you're creating a safe space to express and connect to them. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to emphasize that as humans, we all have moments of hurt and frustration when we feel like we're losing the attention and priority of being in the relationship.
Nobody here is at fault. It can be validating and reassuring that you prefer to spend more time and energy in a "flirting" way together and that both of you can be respectful when in social environments.
Whenever I'm feeling horny, my partner isn't interested. And I'm not always in the mood when they're ready to go. How can we coordinate better?
Travis in South Carolina
It can be frustrating when you have a craving for pleasure and masturbation is just not going to scratch that itch. I have a few approaches to opening up communication about getting your sexual cravings aligned with your partners.
First, add some variety. Nobody wants to eat the same thing for dinner everyday and if your partner has some different pleasures they want from you sexually, it's a lot more exciting to play. Variety doesn’t necessarily mean toys or roleplay—or anything else you may or may not like from looking at porn. Rather, it could be as simple as a different room or some different foreplay ideas. Sex can be quick or last a while, vanilla or spicy, romantic or kinky. Shake up the routine and see what happens.
Second, it's important to incorporate the idea that desire means everything. We want to feel seen and heard. If the day-to-day interaction is dull then usually the sex can feel stale.
Learn how to charm your partner. Engage with them way before bringing up sex as this will have you both primed as a sustainable sexual couple. Many partners want to have their senses engaged. Again, this could be as simple as sharing a great meal, learning new things in a fun conversation, or simply put, knowing they matter on an intimate level emotionally.
Finally, it's important to consider the role stress plays in your sexual relationship. Work responsibilities, demands of children and personal insecurities are all stressors that interfere with the ability to be vulnerable and accept the pleasure sex offers each of you.
I am not a fan of scheduled sex but I am a big advocate of ongoing daily sexual communication. It is just as important to have daily conversations about sex as you do about what to eat for dinner and how your day at work impacted you.
Follow the wants of desire and it can lead you both to embrace sex play together regardless of who gets horny first.
My partner thinks our relationship would be stronger if we opened it up to other people. I'm not so sure. What should I do?
Jackie in Washington, D.C.
Consensual non-monogamy (CNM) is not a solution to creating a stronger relationship, rather it is an individual sexual identity partners can have on different spectrums. In my experience, when someone agrees to open up the relationship in order to please a partner who wants more than one romantic or sexual partner, it does not turn out well.
CNM relationships can be healthy and sustainable if you both share a cultural belief in infinite love and consistent practice of healthy negotiation and consent conversations. I like to address my intentions and personal beliefs of myself first because I can’t have an honest negotiation without knowing what I want first.
Once I can identify my values and ideas in a relationship, I can address what my partner dynamic can look like and this is how honesty and trust can maintain your connection.
If your wants and needs do not align with your partner’s, this is not an implication that you're not good enough or not trying hard enough to make things work. This has to be based on a mutual understanding with an overdose of checking in and validation.
Again, I'm not shy, so feel free to ask me anything. Remember, this will always be anonymous. If you have any questions about relationships, sexual activities or your partners, let me know. Tell me your first name and the state you live in so I can attribute your question. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.