Living with and Through Jealousy: Research on Jealousy among Non-monogamous People


  • Jennifer Kubitzek Comenius University Bratislava



Jealousy, while mostly referred to as a single emotion, presents itself as a more complex emotional phenomenon, which can include emotions like distress, fear, anger, and disgust. The key component for the activation of jealousy is the classification of connections between the desired individual and a third party as a threat to an existing relationship. [1] The base assumption of most literature concerning romantic jealousy is that of romantic love being an exclusive resource. Within this framework, any behaviour that promotes physical or emotional intimacy with another person, bears the potential to weaken the relationship. In non-monogamous contexts, this base assumption is reversed, shifting the focus of jealousy-triggering situations more on reasons for the trigger than the effects of the behaviour. [2] Consequently, research of jealousy in non-monogamous contexts provides opportunities to look into aspects like communication-issues or methods promoting relationship security.  This thesis aims to promote a deeper understanding of the ways in which jealousy is experienced, navigated, and potentially transformed in non-monogamous relationships.  We ask the question: “What are common ways in which jealousy is managed in non-monogamous contexts?"


Since there is no prior research on this specific topic, We aim for multifaceted results, creating an overview of the subject and laying suitable groundwork for future research. 

We will use a qualitative design with semi-structured interviews.  Participants will be recruited in Viennese non-monogamous online social groups and then with the snowball-method until there are no new, but only recurring themes in the dataset. The sample is selected with the aim of including individuals from a range of non-monogamous relationships, including polyamorous, open, swinging and anarchistic relationships to be able to look into relevant variables and document a possible learning process. The collected data will then be analysed using reflexive thematic analysis, identifying common themes. [3] The interviews are designed to elicit detailed narratives about the experience of jealousy, including the triggers, sensations, and thoughts associated with the phenomenon. Reoccurring themes within the dataset will then guide research implications and promote an understanding of romantic jealousy, which is less connected with exclusivity but with individual context.


[1] S. Hart and M. T. Legerstee, Handbook of Jealousy. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

[2] J. Fern, Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy, Thorntree Press, 2020.

[3] V. Braun and V. Clarke, Thematic Analysis: A Practical Guide. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2022.