Hi there! My partner and I are in our first truly poly relationships, but emphasis on "first". Firsts are scary. I know I want to do this, I'm just worried about jealousy feels. We have great communication and I feel good about things, I'm just new to this. What can I do to be more relaxed when I know my partner is hanging out with someone they're interested in?
One “thought exercise” I often recommend to people is to imagine yourself in your partner’s situation. You’re out on a date, with a new person. They’re cool and funny and cute! Are you thinking “boy howdy, this person is so great, it’s making me completely question my affection for my current partner! I’m totally dreading going home to this person I used to like but now, after this date, definitely don’t like anymore!”
Probably not. (And if you anticipate this thought pattern in your partner because you see it in yourself, consider that you may not be ready for healthy polyamory right now!) If you have the capacity to like and date other people without your desires for your current partner being threatened, it’s not a very big leap to assume that your partner can also do that!
Other things you can do to be more relaxed: find a distraction! Plan your own movie night with friends, or video-game marathon, or whatever else, when your partner is going out with people. Don’t be sitting at home letting your anxieties run wild about what they’re doing and feeling and thinking, out there, without you, and when are they coming home??? Do something fun and engaging that helps remind that little anxious part of your brain that you are a complete and independent person, capable of finding joy without your partner’s involvement.
One thing I don’t recommend is relying on rigid rules or structure to help yourself relax. If you say “I’ll feel secure if you text me every hour on the hour during your date AND you come home before midnight AND you never go past kissing on a first date,” then you’re setting yourself up to feel stressed out and agonizing over every hour-mark; and you will feel betrayed and unsafe if your partner misses a text or the date goes in a different direction than they expected. If you put out there for yourself that “if XYZ happens, I’ll be BETRAYED,” then you just established a condition under which you can feel let down and betrayed, and now it’s possible that it could happen, and it’ll be a huge mess. People don’t work well under conditions like that; nor do relationships. Don’t set that up for yourself.