How to Deal with Jealousy in Casual Dating

Do you enjoy casual sex without commitment? Do you feel jealous when you find out your lovers are dating other people?

Dear Holly,

I have a dilemma that I can’t find my way out of. I’m not interested in being in a committed relationship. I’m not a commitment-phobe, as I was married for six years and after that in a monogamous relationship for two-plus years. Let’s just say the pendulum has swung the other way.

I’m just out there having fun now because I married my high school sweetheart and then a rebound became a relationship. I’m exploring different sides of my sexuality that I didn’t do when I was younger. I’ve got a couple of women I hook up with regularly, but I find myself feeling super jealous when I hear or find out that they date or have sex with other people.

I don’t express my jealousy, but it’s there and it makes me feel bad. Of course, I can’t tell them what to do, because I’m doing the same thing. They don’t seem to care about me dating other people, and I want to be laid back too. What’s the key to casual sex and nonmonogamy? – Kenneth

Hi Kenneth. I don’t think there’s one “key” to enjoying casual dating and sex without commitment, but I do have tips that can help you deal with jealousy.

Read: How to Enjoy Dating without Commitment

The first thing is to remember that jealousy is a natural common emotion that most of us feel from time to time, so you don’t need to feel bad about feeling jealous, but you do need to know what to do (or not to do) with those feelings.

How to Cope with Casual Dating Jealousy

Check Yourself

Just as our reader acknowledged—he has little recourse in expressing feelings of jealousy when he himself is dating multiple women. It’s fine to feel those pangs of jealousy, but you need to quickly deal and move on if you want to continue with a casual dating lifestyle.

If you’re just starting to explore casual dating without commitment, but monogamy is your history, it will be an adjustment. Even practicing polyamorists experience jealousy—when a lover finds a new lover, emotions arise. But good communication—the foundation for poly relationships—enables them to navigate through this emotion.

Read: Can You Be Polyamorous AND Monogamous?

Is There More Going On?

You might be feeling a lot more than jealousy, but that’s the emotion you most quickly identify with. Are you concerned with your lover’s safe sex practices? Is she trying to make someone else jealous by sleeping with you? Are you feeling like you’re in competition with her other lovers? Pull a fine-tooth comb through your feelings to know what you’re really dealing with.

You can say you don’t want to commit, but most of us know that sometimes a person comes along that changes what we want. Be open. The jealousy you feel may be a sign that you are falling for your casual lover.

Read: When You Want More than Just a Hookup

Is Casual Dating Right for You?

If your entire dating background is a series of monogamous relationships, then traversing casual sex hookup culture may have stirred your inner green monster. You can say, “Yeah yeah, I’m cool about casually dating women who date multiple guys, I don’t need to know about her other escapades.” But that might be all talk once you find yourself with a hot babe who fucks other men when she isn’t with you.

This doesn’t mean you have to give up casual sex, but it might be better to only date one woman at a time, employ a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy, or engage in an exclusive relationship that is still casual in nature, like a friends-with-benefits arrangement, but you both don’t see other people. Find what casual dating style works for you!

Read: Tips for Healthy Friends-with-Benefits Relationships

Address the Jealousy

While feeling jealous while casual dating is okay, how you act on it might not be. I’ve been in some unpleasant situations with men because of their jealousy and resulting temper, and most women I know have too. It’s far better to express your feelings in a healthy conversation than to let them fester into something awkward or unsettling.

If you feel you can’t control how the jealousy manifests, then it’s time to seek counseling. If jealousy affects how you want to engage with others in any way that is uncomfortable, try some one-on-one therapy.

Read: How to Cope with Jealousy in Relationships

Hookup Help is a Q&A series. If you want advice or a woman’s perspective on hooking up, online dating, relationships, or sex, we want to hear from you. SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION, and who knows, you may appear in the next Hookup Land newsletter.

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