My partner finally had sex with someone else (which I thought was gonna be fine), but I feel all kinds of pain. Knots in my stomach, couldn’t sleep—I actually literally made myself sick. I’m not sure why I feel this way—help! I was feeling prepared for this before but it feels so raw again.

I am really sorry that you are feeling this way! First, think about whether this is a common reaction to stress or fear in your life. This kind of extreme response to anxiety might be part of a larger problem. It’s worth talking to a doctor or mental health professional about how your sleep and stomach are impacted by your emotions. There may be ways you can get help.

Second, take some time to think through why you feel this bad. Sometimes, strong emotions are important clues that let us know we have a need that isn’t getting met. And other times, they are just mind gremlins throwing tantrums. You need to figure out whether this is a signal that you and your partner have a lot more work to do to help you feel safe and healthy, or whether this is an annoying ‘side effect’ of your new arrangement that you need to wait out or mitigate.

What kinds of thoughts and fears are going through your head and accompanying the pain? Can you identify and put them into words? Are there phrases or images that are coming up for you? Have you felt like this before, and if so, what were the trigger and the solution then? If you had a “best case scenario” magic wand to get whatever you wanted, what would you want? Those are good starting points for a conversation with your partner.