What do you suggest when one partner in a primary relationship is envious that the other partner gets more dates or interest from others?

That is tough! One problem that can really suck the life out of a polyamorous relationship is competitiveness - feeling like you’re competing with your partner, or their other partners - but it’s a difficult mental rut to climb out of.

One thing I would suggest to the partner who gets envious is being realistic about forces beyond your control that may be affecting this. For example, different professions provide different opportunities to meet potential partners. If one partner is a barista and the other is a kindergarten teacher, the math is easy - one partner spends most of their day interacting with children and the other spends most of their day meeting young professionals. Students in universities or colleges find that potential new partners (similar age, similar interests, no rules against dating each other) abound, while people who work in an office setting are in a climate far less conducive to that sort of social interaction. If you realize that you just aren’t putting yourself in the path of many new people who might be interested in you, take steps to change that! Join local groups of people who share your interests, start an online dating profile, go out to bars - whatever your scene is, be there!

If you feel like the problem isn’t entirely the circumstances, take a deep breath and remind yourself that everyone goes through “dry spells” like this. Sometimes we go a while without dating someone (or someone new) - it’s just a thing that happens. Almost no one I know ever has a steady stream of interest coming their way. I know it’s a cliche, but it tends to be true that people will approach you more when you seem less interested or less invested in meeting someone, so often worrying about this sort of thing can be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Relax and don’t compare yourself to other people - even your partner - and be happy with what you’ve got, accept what comes your way (or politely decline it), and let go of what doesn’t. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s a mindset to work towards.

Another thing I would suggest is that you be honest with yourself about why, exactly, this bothers you. Like jealousy, this sort of feeling isn’t a pure emotion by itself - there’s a deeper stem. Are you feeling insecure, and this is just being exacerbated by the fact that you have someone very close to you with whom you can compare your dating successes? Are you feeling jealous or neglected because of the time your partner spends dating other people? Are you feeling threatened because you feel like you may be more emotionally dependent on your partner than they are on you? Are you feeling frightened that other people’s lack of interest in you may mean that your partner also finds you less attractive? These are all very different reasons to feel envious about the disparity in dating opportunities between you and your partner, and it would help you work things out to be able to better identify exactly what you’re feeling.

Then, once you’ve mapped out your feelings more clearly, talk to your partner about them! Don’t be accusatory, just let them know that you’re feeling a little down about this, and work together on ways that they can help you feel better about things.