wow, this thread has been incredibly helpful to me already. THANK YOU!!
the insight about my relationship with Alex is fairly right on. i don't think i have been putting enough energy into that relationship, partially because i have been feeling ambivalent about the relationship in general, and partially because i probably have been out of balance with getting really focused on my NRE for Sam. generally speaking, there has been a lot of processing with Alex and very little sexy energy, but i do feel a renewed love for her since we have been exploring this together and our communication has improved tremendously. i can totally see why people describe this as a path of spiritual growth.
a bit of an update: recently Sam did tell me that she has stronger feelings for me than "fuck-buddy" status. in fact, she told me that she thinks she is falling in love with me. i was floored and muttered something about how i had been thinking i was feeling that too, but to be honest i wasn't expected her to say anything like that so i was really taken aback. since then, i've been feeling really intensely about her, missing her when i haven't seen her for days, but trying to be respectful of the boundaries and agreements i have set up in my primary relationship with Alex.
i guess my question is, when i do feel like i want to see more of Sam than my current agreements with Alex permit, how do i give myself permission to ask that of Alex when i know she already stretching herself A LOT to even be exploring this with me? i don't want to get back into the habit of not being honest about what i am doing, which was what i used to do before exploring being poly. i find myself being tempted though, to see Sam without explicit permission from Alex, and that is terrifying. i DON'T want to go back to my old ways.