The longstanding romantic practice of jealousy

I could start at the beginning and introduce myself, but instead I’m going to jump right in with what’s on my mind at the moment:

Andreas Capellanus.

12th Century.  Author.  Possibly french.  Wrote the book on love, literally.

De amore, “About Love”, which details his philosophy on courtly love.

Back before Cosmo was giving you the top 10 ways to find Mr. Right, or Maxim Magazine was explaining the Seven Secret tricks to pulling yourself out of the friend-zone, Capellanus listed a treatise of 31 “Rules of Love” that instruct a young man in how to love.

Take the list with a grain of salt.  It was written in a time where society had not developed appropriate treatment of women, but several of these ideas hold true even today.  Thankfully, because this is such an archaic text, we can dismiss the parts we don’t like as antiquated, and the parts we do like as classic.

In doing so, we find some very classic insights into the world of polyamory.  Specifically, the biggest hurdle many people face when transitioning/experimenting with polyamory:
Jealousy.

Let me first establish that jealousy is by no means exclusive to the world of poly people.  In many monogamous relationships, jealousy can actually be much more rampant and destructive.

Now, let’s look as some classic choices from the rules:

  • 2. He who is not jealous can not love-
    If you feel jealous, good.  This is the bread, butter, and bourbon of Capellanus’ list.  Jealousy isn’t something you feel in spite of love.  Jealousy is something you feel because of love.  It’s the natural feeling of having something special, unique, and irreplaceable.  If somebody else gets it too, usually it means you can’t have it.  But because love can’t be quantified, you technically can’t run out of it.
  • 10. Love always departs from the dwelling place of avarice.-
    Dovetailing with #2, greed is the real enemy, not jealousy.  Because there isn’t a definite supply of love, hording is unnecessary.  More than just unnecessary, hording is detrimental.  It itemizes that which is born in the heart; makes it a commodity, not a miracle.
  • 21. True jealousy always increases the effects of love.-
    Jealousy can drive people apart if they let it.  Don’t let it.  Feeling like you need to assure your place in someone’s heart is an excellent impetus to assure your place in someone’s heart.  If you’re starting to feel like your partner’s other partners do something special that you don’t do, you should try doing something special that you don’t do.
  • 28. The slightest suspicion incites the lover to suspect the worse of his beloved.-
    There are many perks to being polyamorous, especially the relief of suspicion.  That’s why I strongly discourage practicing polyamory with don’t-ask-don’t-tell rules.  Suspicion of infidelity can tear even the most loving couples apart.  Kill the suspicions by revealing 100% of your extracurricular activities.
  • 31. Nothing prevents a woman from being loved by two men, or a man
    from being loved by two women.-
    Capellanus is talking about more than just the Eiffel Tower and the Napoleon’s Hat[NSFW], though those are valuable tools in the poly arsenal.  There is no reason you cannot be loved by more than one person.

The real lesson from this whole enchilada is that jealousy is natural.  It’s normal.  Jealousy can be a sign that you’re still interested.  Jealousy can fuel personal growth, repelling stagnation.  You can act like it’s not there, but it’s better to acknowledge it.  It’s better to use it to enrich your love.

Am I ignoring several of the rules that could be used to counter the poly philosophy?  Hell yeah.

This was a treatise about romance written almost a millenium ago.  I’m ready to dismiss the ones about conventional relationships in the 12th century as archaic.  I’ve cherry-picked a few selections because of what they say about love.

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