Hi BL, I have been following your thread since you started it but feel interested in commenting now that you have revealed more about your ambivalence around commitment and NRE.
Maybe Alex has hit on something, mentioning the idea you are a sex/love/NRE addict. (BTW, my current gf once suggested I might have that issue, and I was hurt by it as well).
At first I was wondering if you were a young person, in your early or mid 20s, but now youve revealed youve been dating for 20 years and so I am guessing you must be in your late 30s.
So, you've had lots of partners and quite a bit of experience. It's great you and Alex have been in therapy for 4 years. What kind of insight has that given you around your issues with commitment in relationships? After all, being poly does not preclude commitment. In fact, it can mean committing fully to more than one person at a time.
However, if you feel like you need space for now, to be single and in more casual relationships (if any) for a while to get to know yourself better, there is nothing wrong with that! It seems healthy, in fact, and more fair to lovers who might be looking for the commitment you don't feel you can provide right now.
Lots of people spend their lives in serial monogamy, getting off on the NRE and bailing when that wears off, after a few months or 3 or so years. Someone new, bright and shiny comes along, and they just go, wow, that person is so much cooler than my current partner. Wham bam, breakup time.
These people miss out on established relationship intimacy (ERI), with all its attendant benefits. Long love can bring richness and joy to one's life that is deep and more ... interesting, than the flash and sparkle of a new love or infatuation. Kind of like the difference between a fire made out of dry kindling (big and blazing hot, but soon going out) as opposed to a fire made of large logs (with the depth of heat you can see in the heart of the fire, glowing white, blue and orange, with lots of texture and embers). You can really cook on a warm long lasting fire. A fire of kindling will just burn the surface of the food and leave it raw on the inside.
Me, I am loyal to a fault, maybe too loyal (Leo trait). I was with the same guy for 33 years, married to him for 30. We broke up about 10 years later than we should have. Once I was finally free, I did spend a year or 2 swept up in NRE with my gf and several other lovers, having lots of different experiences in intimacy and sex which I felt I needed after 30+ years with the same person. However, I didn't shy away from commitment. I like commitment. I like the security of knowing my partner really well and being known by her, our tastes in sex, kink, food, hobbies, the rhythm of our days matching, etc. I don't have another steady partner right now, but it is what I would like, instead of a stream of not quite right people.
So... yeah. Maybe you do need a period of being single for a while, working on the relationship you have with yourself, and not getting distracted from this introspection by the thrill of NRE. Eventually you will have more to offer a partner when you know yourself better!
Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty. It is compatible neither with envy, jealousy or fear. It is there most pure, perfect and unlimited when its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve. -- Shelley
There's no lying in polyamory!
I'm a 58 year old woman with 2 partners:
miss pixi, my live-in gf, 36 (together since Jan '09)
Ginger, bf, 61, married, lives nearby (together since Jan '12)