The Jealousy Workbook: Insights and Techniques for Managing Open Relationships
THE JEALOUSY WORKBOOK
Review in Electronic Journal of Human
Sexuality, Volume 16, Oct. 6, 2013
by David S. Hall , Ph.D.
This useful paperback has just arrived as part of the expanding literature on open relationships (aka Polyamory or other forms of ethical non-monogamy). It is based on the author's many years and extensive experience in assisting people with the challenges of relationships they may not be prepared to deal with. Ms. Labriola is a nurse, hypnotist and counselor, and has written several books on open relationships.
Based on her work with the clients she has seen, it is by necessity focused on people with the problems that come with jealousy. This is only a subset of folks in open relationships, some of whom do not have the kind of problems she deals with. However, if you or your partner(s) are experiencing jealousy, this book is full of good exercises to help you through your rough spots. There are nineteen sections, containing forty-two specific exercises with well laid out instructions and examples from people who are experiencing the kind of problems you might be experiencing.
The first section gives you a broad view of jealousy, what it is and why it can be so powerful. The exercises in this section help one to understand what it is, where it can come from in any relationship, and how to prepare for it if you are beginning an open relationship. This would be useful to anyone thinking about opening a relationship and exploring ethical non-monogamy. It can give you insight into yourself and how you think about relationships. In particular, Exercise 3 is a cost-benefit analysis of opening your relationship, a very valuable tool.
Part Two, beginning with Exercise 8, contains tools to deal with jealousy when it shows up in a relationship. In particular I like Chapter 11, which is about unlearning three core beliefs that generate jealousy. The ideas were included in a paper in this journal in 2003 but in the explanation, exercises and examples, the author makes them powerful tools in working through jealousy. I also like Chapter 13, the three circles of "Poly Hell". These exercises make a lot of sense and deal with key issues in open relationships.
Chapter 17 brings in exercises and information from five other authors who have written about and taught about jealousy. This sharing of the work of others is a valuable tool and might lead the reader to other books or workshops that could be helpful.
The back of the book includes a list of other works on jealousy, some sources of workshops (mostly west coast) and other help in dealing with this problem.
This is a book I can recommend highly.
Excellent resource for anyone interested in/working with open relationships
By Cat Maness
LOVE IN ABUNDANCE
A very practical guide to Polyamory, February 21, 2011
By Gina Corsi
This is a very smart book, full of practical advice and many examples of
real people successfully having more than one partner at the same time.
Low on flowery rhetoric, and full of practical, real-world case stories
of complex lives and relationships. She works as a counselor, and it
The book is very low on, "This is what I think, and/or what poly theory says", and very high on, "Here are relationships I've seen work (and not work!) in the real world".
She immediately deals with emotions like jealousy, envy, insecurity and compulsive behavior, inevitable in any relationship, but more so in polyamory. She's very practical and matter-of-fact, and provides useful models to develop relationship skills. She's skilled, thoughtful and wise. I read the book in a single evening, unable to put it down.
If you are contemplating polyamory, this is a must-read.
I would also recommend a therapist experienced in polyamory, if at all possible. It's a step that shouldn't be taken lightly.
a great read for those who want a professional's perspective on
redefining the possibilities for experiencing love in any relationship.
A great counselor, with great advice, November 21, 2011
By Kate Sassoon
REVIEW IN SLINGSHOT NEWSPAPER ISSUE # 105, Spring 2011
the last 10+ years of slingshot articles are on-line here:http://slingshot.tao.ca
Click on this link and on the left side of the home page, scroll down to "Back Issues" and go to Issue #105, Spring, 2011.
When you get to that issue, scroll down to "Book Review" by Jesse Palmer, of "Love in Abundance." |(See below)
Book Review: Love in Abundance: A counselor's Advice on Open
Review by Jesse D. Palmer
Greenery Press (2010) $15.95
While a number of good books about polyamory -- having sexual / emotional relationships with more than one person at a time -- have come out over the last dozen years, those curious about the subject will want to check out Kathy Labriola's new book because of her unique perspective and focus. Labriola is a practicing relationship counselor and draws upon her work with many poly clients to address practical issues (jealousy, disclosure, honest communication, etc.) that come up for people trying to carry on open relationships.
Labriola has also been poly herself for almost 40 years, so she can also draw on her personal experiences with the subject. I found her writing funny, daringly honest and easy to get through. She writes from an explicitly activist and feminist perspective -- it is nice to read about someone wanting only secondary relationships because they're busy with a lot of activist meetings!
Rather than mostly containing an argument for the viability or "ethical" quality of a poly lifestyle, Love in Abundance is directed towards people who are already convinced that open relationships make sense to them, but who may need help actually making them work in practice.
The book is full of check-lists and specific tips. My favorite sections were on communication skills, which I think could be helpful for monogamous as well as poly people. She has a great section on metacommunication -- communicating about communication itself. Labriola breaks down communication into a few basic purposes: to make connection, to solve a problem, to ask for support, etc. Person A may be communicating to ask for support, and if person B understands it as an attempt at problem solving, they may fail to connect. If person B first takes time to understand the purpose of the communication, they can react more appropriately and avoid friction.
Another insightful section is on disclosure. Labriola has observed that most people fall into one of two camps: either you want as much information as possible to feel empowered by knowing all the details, or alternatively knowing details causes you to fixate and feel overwhelmed, and it is actually better to know less. Knowing which camp you and your partner are in and figuring out what facts you need to know to feel safe can make life a lot easier. One of my favorite parts of the book is where Labriola publishes her three page long list of precisely what she wants to know from her partners about their involvement with a third person. Getting to the point where you know what you need to know -- and communicating it with your partners -- is an advanced state of honesty and self-knowledge.
I recommend Labriola's book even while I feel very far from being comfortable with either the poly vision it presents, or monogamy. Becoming sexually involved with another person -- which at the time usually feels like the expression of a special closeness with that person -- very often eventually destroys all connection with that person when the relationship breaks up. While ex-lovers often never want to see each other again, friends rarely break-up. Sometimes you may drift away from a friend over time, but that doesn't require you to fight, cling to past ways of relating that may change, or declare a formal end to the relationship. Friends can be more accepting and free about each other -- less rigid and bound by abstract rules of how the friendship is supposed to be. I'm still close with many "platonic" friends I made 30 years ago and I often feel a greater degree of emotional intimacy with them than I do with people I'm dating.
If sex so often separates us, rather than unites us, with people we love, maybe it makes more sense to concentrate on non-sexual love and intimacy with other people, which you can have with a number of people simultaneously under either poly or monogamous rules. Domestically, the monogamous ideal is living with one other person and perhaps any children from the relationship. The poly domestic arrangement described by Labriola would be living with a number of lovers, or perhaps living part time with one lover, and part time with another. A third option -- sort of neo-poly because it is non-sexual and yet involves more than one person -- is communal living in which one lives with and is emotionally close with a number of housemates who are not sexual partners. This maximizes intimacy and options for community but downplays issues of jealousy, possessiveness, competition, and the risk that relationships will be destroyed in the heat of a sexual breakup.
Labriola's book is about how to have practical poly relationships -- figuring out rules based on everyone's consent and open communication. Building relationships with rules and expectations means you'll still face breakups and lots of opportunities for people to hurt each other. I appreciate the poly scene because it seeks to question and change some of the most oppressive rules of monogamy, but it is up against very deep sexual repression and patriarchal socialization that most of us hold deep within us.
From a certain point of view, Labriola's description of the very real limits of polyamory is depressing. We want love in abundance, but we're merely imperfect humans doing the best we can, and real abundance may be beyond our capacity at this moment in history. Having more love than permitted under tradition rules -- either through polyamory or trying to expand the emotional content of all types of relationships -- is a good direction to move.