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How to is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!
Dear how to do it,
My current wife and I broke up at 25 because we both had big career dreams and visa constraints that pulled us in opposite directions. We parted on good terms and stayed in touch on social media. Five years later, we found ourselves in the same city: I hated my career and was moving toward something different, and his was thriving in a new place. We met up for coffee and ended up getting back together. I had never liked anyone like her, and even though we had both dated other people over those five years, getting back together was somehow better than the initial relationship.
It’s been a few years and we are really happy. Plus, she’s learned an incredible array of new sex tricks since the last time we were together. I appreciate them, enjoy them and have probably acquired a few that I now use on her! But they make me jealous like nothing else. Seeing evidence on Instagram that she had other relationships at the time, or even sometimes hearing her mention an ex in the context of her story, seems like a normal part of her past. Neither of us has ever cheated and I have no other experiences with jealousy like this. But it’s irrational and I can’t let it go. I never talked about it. What should I do?
—I don’t know where you learned that
Rich: I think if it upsets that person so much that it becomes a distraction, a conversation about it would probably be helpful.
Rich: Because if you don’t get anywhere by talking to yourself, then you talk to someone else. Maybe your wife, maybe your therapist, but anyone.
Stoia: It seems there is a distinction for the writer between photos of her with people she has dated on Instagram and the mere mention of an ex, and sexual techniques. They provoke different reactions. Sometimes just saying, “Hey, there’s this weird elephant of irrationality going on in the room” helps diffuse it.
Rich: Yes I agree. At this point, her past has led her to this present moment they share together. These experiences and this sex have a direct lineage to the present moment, which perhaps wouldn’t happen without these relationships and the things she experienced. I know it’s very difficult to apply logic and reasoning to a situation where someone says, “I know it’s irrational, but…” Sometimes you might frame things differently in your mind and think about it in such a way that you agree. they can be useful. If he can look at that, the fact that their whole history has led them to where they are now, which is together, it might give him some perspective, even an appreciation for the experiences she’s had. .
Stoia: And there’s no denying she wouldn’t have learned some new sex tricks if they’d stayed together. There are sex advice columns, books, videos, and ways to experiment together. So maybe our LW should consider that time and experience, no matter who with it, will teach you new things.
Rich: There are also many resources for jealousy. Most of them I researched for this column fall under the broader banner of ethical non-monogamy. The ethical slut has a great section on jealousy. There are workbooks on jealousy. I think there are ways to solve this problem using some tools that other people who have dealt with jealousy naturally because they live ethically and non-monogamous might find helpful. He may want to turn to reading The ethical slut even if they are not open.
People have been dealing with this problem forever in different ways and have many tips for dealing with it. One of those things is understanding that jealousy passes. It does not have to be a permanent condition. Meditation is another thing that can really help you by helping you understand the control you have over where you focus. This is not for everyone, different types of conditions and mental illnesses would make this very difficult if not impossible. But some people — I speak from personal experience — can train their attention to go to certain places and avoid certain things that trigger them. You don’t have to necessarily think about the thoughts that you have.
Stoia: Think of jealousy as a leaf that drifts in a stream and blows away.
Rich: Exactly, or a cloud in the sky that you can just push aside and it floats a little faster and out of view.
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