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Love's Refraction

Love's Refraction: Jealousy and Compersion in Queer Women's Polyamorous Relationships

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Love's Refraction
    Book Description:

    Popular wisdom might suggest that jealousy is an inevitable outcome of non-monogamous relationships. InLove's Refraction, Jillian Deri explores the distinctive question of how and why polyamorists - people who practice consensual non-monogamy - manage jealousy. Her focus is on the polyamorist concept of "compersion" - taking pleasure in a lover's other romantic and sexual encounters.

    By discussing the experiences of queer, lesbian, and bisexual polyamorous women, Deri highlights the social and structural context that surrounds jealousy. Her analysis, making use of the sociology of emotion and feminist intersectionality theory, shows how polyamory challenges traditional emotional and sexual norms.

    Clear and concise,Love's Refractionspeaks to both the academic and the polyamorous community. Deri lets her interviewees speak for themselves, linking academic theory and personal experiences in a sophisticated, engaging, and accessible way.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2456-6
    Subjects: Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 But Don’t You Get Jealous?
    (pp. 3-15)

    When I am discussing polyamory, the two most common responses I receive are “I could never do that; I would get too jealous” and “where do you find the time?” Although the time question remains a mystery, I find the issue of jealousy absolutely fascinating. The assumptions implied in this remark sparked my research into how polyamorists are affected by jealousy. Popular wisdom suggests that non-monogamy is impossible; if one’s lover has sexual encounters outside the relationship, jealousy will be the inevitable and intolerable outcome. At the same time, jealousy is viewed as a sign of love, and thus the...

  5. 2 Polyagony: An Exploration of Jealousy
    (pp. 16-38)

    Jealousy, that dragon which slays love under the pretense of keeping it alive.

    Havelock Ellis

    People use the word “jealousy” to refer to a wide variety of sensations: from small twinges of discomfort to overwhelming rages, which are different not only in degree but also in kind. Some people use the word “jealousy” when they do not feel it deeply (I’m so jealous of your new shoes) and deny it when the emotion is likely to be strong (I don’t care at all if he is dating her now). The use of the term “jealousy” varies both in academia and...

  6. 3 If You Move to the Rainforest, You’ve Got No Right to Complain about the Rain: From Polyagony to Compersion
    (pp. 39-70)

    When their relationships encounter difficulty, some polyamorists halfjoke that instead of practising polyamory, they are practising “polyagony,” a term used to remind us that jealousy can sometimes be acutely painful. With the recognition that polyamory does indeed have its challenges, how and why do polyamorists work through this emotional pain? I begin this chapter with a description of the various expressions of jealousy among my participants. Then I discuss how polyamorists have re-imagined jealousy and have developed tools, strategies, and norms with the intention of facilitating compersion. To understand polyamorous norms, I examine the common themes of polyamorous practice that...

  7. 4 Once You Say, “I’m Poly,” It Kind of Eliminates the Need for the Feminist Part: Gender, Jealousy, and Polyamory
    (pp. 71-95)

    Gender plays an intricate role in romantic relationships and is part of how people relate to each other sexually. Gender means more than the categories of man and woman; it extends to the matrices of ways in which people relate to their identities, roles, and expressions of masculinity and femininity, and to their distance from these categories. Understandings of one’s gendered subjectivity are also tied to emotional experiences, particularly emotions that are connected to sexuality, the body, and intimate interactions. It is nearly impossible to separate emotion from the constructs of gender, sexuality, and their intersecting regulation. In refusing to...

  8. 5 Jealousy Can Be Hot if You Flip It: Working and Playing with Power
    (pp. 96-135)

    Jealousy is an emotion that emerges from social relationships, making it intricately tied to power relations. According to Klesse (2007, 115), “complex power relations structureallintimate and/or sexual relationships” (emphasis in original). Similarly, “emotionality as a claimabouta subject or a collective is clearly dependent on relations of power, which endow ‘others’ with meaning and value” (Ahmed 2004b, 4; emphasis in original). Jealousy is linked to fear of loss of a relationship or of decline in its quality, and such changes in a relationship are embedded in power relations. My research into polyamorous queer women demonstrates that social...

  9. 6 Polyamory’s Legacy: Concluding Remarks
    (pp. 136-142)

    Jealousy is at once common and complicated. Throughout this book, I have attempted to enrich conventional understandings of this very common emotion and also make comprehensible this particularly complex emotional experience. Polyamorists face an interesting dilemma: in a monogamy-centric culture, any act or desire for extra-relationship encounters is expected to be met with the inevitable and intolerable experience of jealousy. Jealousy is thought to be a sign of love, and thus a partner’s jealousy is interpreted as evidence of commitment to the relationship. Polyamorists intentionally engage in sexual and emotional relationships with multiple people and create their own cultural norms...

  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 143-150)
  11. Index
    (pp. 151-155)