Gender-Specific Jealousy (Double Standard)

Arius

New member
Hey Everybody.

My poly partner is a bisexual cis female. I am a hetero cis male. For some reason, I get jealous when she has sex with men, but not women. If it's a man, I often feel anxious, insecure, and get really bad mental pictures. I'm worried that his cock will be bigger than mine. I'm worried that he'll be a better lover. But when she's with a woman, I just feel happy for her. I don't care if the woman is the best lover she's ever had and leaves her quivering with pleasure in a pool of ecstacy. The idea of them being together turns me on.

It seems to me that this kind of gender-specific jealousy is normal. Does anyone know why?

My only theory right now is that I've been programmed to see other men (but not women) as a threat.

But more importantly, does anyone know how to get over this? I would like to be as comfortable with my partner having sex with men as I am with her having sex with women.
 

Octopus

New member
I like to think of it as a positive thing. Having the positive example of how you feel towards female partners can be a goal state to aspire towards. It shows to you how you are capable of feeling joy and compersion for her.

Why? Culture & socialisation. Patriarchy.
 

Arius

New member
Thanks for your thoughts, Octopus.

Do you mind elaborating more on how patriarchy is involved? I have considered this as a possible significant contributing factor before, but my thinking on it is fuzzy at best.
 

Octopus

New member
In terms of gender roles, you may see men as a "threat" and women as "harmless" because society has taught you that men are aggressive and strong - the aggressor and seducer, and competition for "the women" is part of that.

In terms of sexual orientation - part of the traditional view on how people should conduct their love life is monogamy, and another part of it is heterosexuality. The part of you that has abandoned this traditional view by embracing polyamory is also embracing all deviations :)rolleyes:) from heteronormativity (and therefore - sleeping with other people = great! sleeping with women = great!).
But, there is a little bit of old thinking "left". Rejecting anything that is not the norm. Which is when the "ugh" feeling kicks in (sleeping with men = bad). But, when your wife sleeps with a women, that situation is already so far removed from traditional-old-"ideal" norm because of the same-gender-interaction that the "ugh" doesn't kick in. See what I mean? :)
In a similar vein, some people feel that homosexual sex is playful and sexy and fun, but heterosexual sex is 'meaningful' and part of 'a greater romance'.

Now, I am not saying you actually think any of these things at all. I am saying we are all conditioned by our cultural upbringing and that may influence our emotions some times.
 
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nycindie

Active member
It's patriarchal in the sense that you don't see women as just as much a threat as men could be. If there is a part of you feeling competitive, you consider a man a worthy opponent but a woman doesn't really count, cause that's just fluff and fun. Patriarchy belittles women's worth and value and stature in all ways. Your girlfriend would never leave a man for "just a woman" kind of thinking (not saying that she would leave you at all, since this is poly, but that is how our thought processes have been programmed in western culture). Somewhere in there, there could possibly be thoughts like, "Women with women - that's not a real relationship," or "A man would be the superior choice," in addition to all the dick-comparing nonsense men are taught to engage in.

I'm tired right now, so that's about as eloquent as I can get. But your topic is common and there are numerous threads here about others' similar experiences, for further reading.
 
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Marcus

Well-known member
My only theory right now is that I've been programmed to see other men (but not women) as a threat.

Your theory isn't likely to get much better. The "normal" heterosexual male perspective is to consider other males as a threat and females as a threesome lol

But more importantly, does anyone know how to get over this? I would like to be as comfortable with my partner having sex with men as I am with her having sex with women.

You are on the right track just by asking this question. Good for you!

For me, when I have that nagging feeling of jealousy I lean on my most applicable mantra. I have a few, but for this one I lean on "That's not mine". This one reminds me that they are fully functional humans who are living out their lives, which is preferable. "That's not mine" reminds me that what I am doing is having a possessive response to what they are doing; that I am tricking myself into thinking that I have some level of entitlement about how they are spending their time (which I decidedly am not entitled to).

Failing that (which sometimes happens) I move on to compersion. "I want her to experience the things that make her happy". This one reminds me that what she is doing is what I WANT her to be doing, which is enriching her life and experiencing joy.
 

Octopus

New member
Hah! Edited my post to make it clearer but meanwhile nycindie also said everything I wanted to say. :)
 

Tonberry

New member
I know that a lot of people don't like Franklin Veaux, but I find this article helpful in a general sense.

Not a lot of specific practical advice, though. The advice seems to be, don't just endure it or you'll be miserable, but don't forbid it either. Allow it, but then ask for reassurance, and retrain your brain so that men aren't seen a threat because you trust that your partner will make decisions that take your well-being into account, that she loves you, etc.

Ultimately, I think a way to get over it will be for you to get over the fear of not being the best. If you can reach a point where you can think "if the guy is better in bed than me, stronger, better looking, and his dick is better... so what? Good for her."
For that, you need to know what's being triggered, what you're afraid of, and follow the train of thoughts.

You're worried, for instance, that a guy might have a bigger penis. Why? What bad outcome would follow? It itself, it's not scary, unlike you have the largest penis in the world some guys will be better-endowed. Why is it scary? Do you fear it would make you less valuable in her mind? Do you fear she might think "why did I bother with him? He has a small penis!"
Fear don't have to be rational to be crippling, so be willing to admit that you're afraid of something that, when you say it out loud, sounds ridiculous.

Whoever she dates, he or she will be better than you in some ways and worse in others. You're the sum of everything. Is the size of the other guy's penis scarier to you than whether he shares an interest with her you don't share, and they can talk about it for hours? Or the idea that, say, they are a similar size and she can wear his clothes?
These examples are random. But penis size is random too. It's just been ingrained that bigger is better, which depends on the taste of the woman, and the skill of the man. And I think that has a lot to do with why you don't have a problem with female lovers: they don't have a penis at all.
Although, they actually might have several. And if you're so worried about size, well, the penises they might have are probably bigger than yours, because they rarely sell average-sized toys. And if all else fails, they have fists, too.
 

ThatGirlInGray

New member
I don't have any further advice to add, but perhaps something to contribute to the "Why?" side:

After a very, umm, ....interesting conversation with the relative of a friend regarding sex and reproduction (during which he actually said, "Reproductive sex is real sex. Non-reproductive sex isn't" !!!) I wonder how much of your reaction is biological.

Our logical brains aside, we do still have some reactions and interactions in our society that are based in biology. Thought I'm fairly certain some of your reaction is social conditioning, could some of it be that, biologically, a male is a reproductive threat, while a female is not? Another man could impregnate her; his sperm could win (yes, logically if you're using birth control and practicing safer sex this is unlikely, but we're not discussing rational thoughts here). A woman does not present that risk. (Of course, this reasoning falls apart if you also struggle with the thought of oral sex with a man. I don't know if that's the case or not.)

I'm no scientific expert, and I'm not saying that a biological reason would be impossible to get over, it just might be even harder to uproot than the societal reasons.
 

cinnamonswing

New member
i can see why someone would attribute this reaction (or at least parts of it) to patriarchy but i think this is not just a reaction men have towards woman-woman relationships but also many women have towards man-man relationships. thinking that it is less of a threat if your partner has sex with someone that is not of your gender, period. so maybe it is more of a heteronormative thing. but i also think it has a lot to do with not wanting to feel like you could be replaced.

for me, i try to work through these feelings by thinking about my own views on lovers. i only have sex with men and it's not like i'm on a quest to find the biggest penis out there and that's all that matters ;) every person i am with is unique and can never replace anyone else. person A might do something that i like more than when person B does it, but person B might have another trick up his sleeve that person A does not do. also, sex for me is so much about body chemistry. sure, you can learn moves and positions, but in the end what works with one person might not work with the next. since everyone is unique, the connection when two people come together will also be unique. some connections will work better than others, but that is not because one person is better than another. so that would be my advice, try to think about how you yourself view the different women you have sex with and see that it is not a competition. noone can replace you.
 

Helo

New member
Hey Everybody.

My poly partner is a bisexual cis female. I am a hetero cis male. For some reason, I get jealous when she has sex with men, but not women. If it's a man, I often feel anxious, insecure, and get really bad mental pictures. I'm worried that his cock will be bigger than mine. I'm worried that he'll be a better lover. But when she's with a woman, I just feel happy for her. I don't care if the woman is the best lover she's ever had and leaves her quivering with pleasure in a pool of ecstacy. The idea of them being together turns me on.

It seems to me that this kind of gender-specific jealousy is normal. Does anyone know why?

My only theory right now is that I've been programmed to see other men (but not women) as a threat.
You've basically got it. Our society sees a patriarchal set-up (such as polygamy) as acceptable, even encouraged in some circles, but the reverse is not true.

But more importantly, does anyone know how to get over this? I would like to be as comfortable with my partner having sex with men as I am with her having sex with women.
I have a difficult time trusting other men because of negative experiences with men that I've counted as friends as well as years spent trying to help women who were victims of physical and sexual assault. That's made me very...skeptical when it comes to men in general. Less out of a sense of jealousy and more a sense of mistrust.

When I first started entering the world of poly, I ran into the jealousy wall before I got too far. I got around it by just try to keep in mind that, just as every single one of the women I've ever been with has been different and incredible in their own way, I am different than other male lovers that any ladyfriends I see may have. If you were to ask me who the best lover I've ever had was, I couldn't tell you. Different lovers have been good at different things and taken to certain things more naturally, but I couldn't honestly tell you who was the "best" overall.

We've been somewhat programmed to think of things on a binary scale; it's either good or its not, better and best. We dont think of lovers as a range of experiences, they're given these really arbitrary skill assignments often based on piss-poor experience and warped cultural ideas.

It's stupid because because people are wildly differing individuals yet for some reason when it comes to sex, we all fall on this scale between "terrible" and "awesome" and we lose all our unique natures.

Additionally, talk to your ladyfriend as often as possible. Tell her you're having these problems and want to work through them. Jealousy is a weed that thrives in darkness, the more you talk about it and the more you bring it out to deal with it, the harder time it will have growing.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
It's normal jealousy struggle. It happens. Both ways -- whether the gender of the other lover is the same as you or different. Because in the end I don't believe it is about the other lover's gender. I think it about your inner thoughts and beliefs.

The whole "If our hinge sweetie compares us, I'm not going to be able to compete" thing. Maybe you are ok with the female lovers because they have equipment you don't. They offer your lover a different sex experience and your thoughts run along the lines of "It's not even a competition there." But the male lover has "your" equipment. So you feel competition fears.

It works the other way too. Maybe you think you are a hot stud muffin and no other man can compete to your magical penis. But crap! Here come women lovers -- they have goods you don't! What if hinge sweetie runs off with one of them and you cannot even compete because you just don't have a vagina to compete with? Ahhhh!

See? Doesn't matter the gender. Whatever tape is playing in there -- it boils down to "I am afraid I cannot compete."

You state your worries/fears yourself -- things like what if is he's a better lover, has a bigger penis, etc.

So what? What if he is blond, has three dogs and a dragon, he drives a vacuum cleaner to work? ( I joke to keep it light and try to make you smile, I'm not making light of your feelings or minimizing them.)

It just doesn't matter what he has or does or is. What is causing your discomfort is not the trigger (him being another lover). It is your thinking and what you tell yourself inside your head that is causing you your upset.

"I am less than, I will fall short..." kinds of thoughts.

To feel better?

Ask your partner to reassure you that your hinge sweetie loves you for YOU and wouldn't break up with you without warning or without giving you a chance to work on whatever needs are not being met.

And ask yourself to learn to cut it out and play a different tape in your head.

"I AM good enough. Hinge loves me for ME and all I bring to the table."

Maybe these could help?

http://www.cat-and-dragon.com/stef/poly/Labriola/jealousy.html
http://www.practicalpolyamory.com/images/Jealousy_Updated_10-6-10.pdf

Try to BREATHE. Literally. Take deep breaths and relax your muscles if you feel stress/anxious/uptight. If you make yourself breathe and deliberately let go of any muscle tension, your muscles can give your brain feedback that there is actually no danger lurking. So there is no need to be chronically poised for "flight or fight response." Then maybe your brain can relax a bit in there.

BREATHE.

In a way, it's good that it's about the thoughts in your mind. Because you can always choose to change your mind! :)

You will be ok. You can do this work -- you can learn to overcome jealousy.

Hang in there!
Galagirl
 
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ThatGirlInGray

New member
It works the other way too. Maybe you think you are a hot stud muffin and no other man can compete to your magical penis. But crap! Here come women lovers -- they have goods you don't! What it hinge sweetie runs off with one of them and you cannot even compete because you just don't have a vagina to compete with? Ahhhh!

QFT. MC overall has not experienced much jealousy, but when he has worried about me potentially leaving him for someone else, it's been much more along the lines of "What if a woman can give you something I can't?"
 

Arius

New member
So many super valuable responses! I don't even think I can respond meaningfully to them all right now! Thanks, everyone. I'm actually starting to feel like I can wrap my head around this a little and make some serious progress.
 

Tonberry

New member
i can see why someone would attribute this reaction (or at least parts of it) to patriarchy but i think this is not just a reaction men have towards woman-woman relationships but also many women have towards man-man relationships. thinking that it is less of a threat if your partner has sex with someone that is not of your gender, period. so maybe it is more of a heteronormative thing. but i also think it has a lot to do with not wanting to feel like you could be replaced.

Actually, I remember reading studies that within people in an opposite-sex relaitonship who didn't care about their partner having sex with one gender, but cared about their partner having sex with the other... both males and females, on average, were jealous of a male partner but not a female one. Only a minority of males and a minority of females were more jealous if their partner was with a woman than with a man.

Note that it's within people who care about one and not the other. Plenty of people were jealous of both or neither.

But yeah, while they justified it in different ways ("I'm a man so if she dates other men she might replace me" vs "I'm a woman so other women aren't a threat but men can bring him something I can't!") both seem to be influenced by patriarchy.
 

Arius

New member
I'm pretty embarrassed to admit this, but I think it's highly relevant to this conversation. I was on the bus today and I actually noticed something that I'd never really paid attention to before: I was assessing people differently based on their gender.

The first group might be labelled "potential threats to my safety." I'd look at faces and evaluate body language to see if any of the folks I identified as male looked like they might become violent. If they did, this would put me into "ready to fight mode" and necessitate frequent monitoring of the individual in question. If they didn't look potentially violent, I lost interest in them.

The second group was labelled "potential sexual partners." I'd look at faces and evaluate body shapes to see if any of the folks I identified as female were people I might (assuming they turn out to be someone I respect and find attractive in terms of personality) want to have sex with. If they were, this would put me into what I will call "flirty eyes" mode, and the person would again receive more visual attention than others.

I hadn't really noticed it before, but I knew immediately that I do this ALL THE TIME. Which may partially explain why I generally don't enjoy the company of men. Who wants to be constantly on guard?

I'm not really surprised, but I am a little disturbed by this. It always sucks to realize how deeply ingrained patriarchy is in me.

Have other folks had this experience? I'm wondering if we all do it. If it's different for women, queer folks, trans folks, etc.

I'm also not sure what to do about it. I don't think it's wise to stop assessing people I identify as men to see if they are potential threats, because some of them actually are. I've been in enough fights to know the importance of being prepared for violence. And I do believe that I would notice and react accordingly if a person I identify as female was acting in a belligerent manner.

On the other side, I have been working to objectify women less, but there's still a lot of room for growth there.
 
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Arius

New member
Another thing this thread brought up for me is the importance patriarchy places on penetration.

For example, in many cultures [including prison culture] it is generally only considered "gay" to be on the receiving end of a penis. Also, the verbs for sex are typically gendered in a way that sex is always something that the person penetrating is doing to the person being penetrated. (Eg. Sam fucked sally; sally was fucked by sam. Ernie gave it hard to Burt; Burt took it up the a**. etc.)

So maybe that partially explains why I don't feel threatened by my partner having sex with a woman.
 

Tonberry

New member
You can be penetrated by a woman. Whether you're male or female.

But to answer your question, yes I can be more on guard when males are around than when females are around. However, since I'm a straight female, they are also the category of potential mates. Females I see as de-sexualised (as far as I'm concerned, since there is no attraction) and not a physical threat, so I guess I don't pay much attention to them.

I'm talking about strangers, here, which I believe you were too.

There is definitely some level of patriarchy at play there, although on the other hand it's true that if I get assaulted, it's more likely to be by a man than a woman. Also, if a woman assaults me, I'm more confident in my ability to fight back because I'm not particularly strong vs the average male, but I would probably be fine vs the average female.

As a male though, you probably have a lower risk of getting assaulted by males, so if you're constantly tense and on guard around them, I can see how it might be a problem. Especially if it remains the case after you actually know the people.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
It seems to me that this kind of gender-specific jealousy is normal. Does anyone know why?


I don't really believe in "normal." Nobody is quite "normal," everyone has something that makes them different. So if everyone is different, how does "normal" have any meaning?

Worse, I find that "normal" is often used to discriminate. People who are "normal" can justify looking down on people who are "abnormal."

Even worse, people will try to change who they are inside (rather an impossible task) to become this construct of "normal." It's sad.

However, I will agree that these jealous feelings are common, and that's probably all you meant. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt by assuming you weren't using "normal" as an attempt to *ahem* normalize these feelings.

I wonder how much of your reaction is biological.

Damn, beat me to the punch. That's exactly what I was going to say. Biologically, men pose a threat to your ability to cause your mate to become impregnated with your offspring. Women do not pose this threat. It also explains why women, while still being prone to jealousy, are less likely to go into the jealous rages and possessiveness that come so easily to some men. A man can impregnate another woman without posing any barrier to his ability to impregnate his mate.

Eg. Sam fucked sally; sally was fucked by sam. Ernie gave it hard to Burt; Burt took it up the a**. etc.

I've heard plenty of Sallies say "I fucked Sam." In my grammar world, Sam cannot fuck Sally unless Sally fucks Sam back. Sam and Sally fucked each other. All night. *cue 80s wah-chicka-wah-wah*
 

cinnamonswing

New member
Actually, I remember reading studies that within people in an opposite-sex relaitonship who didn't care about their partner having sex with one gender, but cared about their partner having sex with the other... both males and females, on average, were jealous of a male partner but not a female one. Only a minority of males and a minority of females were more jealous if their partner was with a woman than with a man.

Note that it's within people who care about one and not the other. Plenty of people were jealous of both or neither.

But yeah, while they justified it in different ways ("I'm a man so if she dates other men she might replace me" vs "I'm a woman so other women aren't a threat but men can bring him something I can't!") both seem to be influenced by patriarchy.

that's very interesting. i was speaking more from my own experience and opinions i've heard from friends etc but it's always interesting to see results from studies
 
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