Long-Distance Poly Love: No rules, no hierarchy
Hi all, I'm new here. Thanks for listening.
I'm falling in love with someone who lives in another state; he's also falling in love with me. It's still fairly new -- we've been seeing each other for seven months -- but we talk almost every day and visit each other every three or four weeks. He's seeing other people right now; I'm not.
I've been polyamorous for most of my adult life, but I can't say it's ever been easy for me -- it just always seemed easier than monogamy. My best experience was in a three-way relationship where my lovers and I were best friends and each of us was madly in love with the other two. I think polyamory at it's best, for me, creates community amongst lovers -- I dream of settling down with a few people, some day, never just one. But my other polyamory experiences have been various shades of terrible, mostly because my partners and I didn't really know how to be good for one another. Rules were broken, hearts were broken, drama was endlessly processed, I was exhausted. Before I met my current love, I was curious to see what monogamy might look like. What a relief it would be, I imagined, for it just to be the two of us!
Of course I ended up falling for my current love, who is decidedly polyamorous. In many ways our relationship is the finest in my life. We share a deep respect for one another, incredible sex, honest intimacy, and generally adore one another and want the best for each other. He made it clear early on that he only does polyamory, and that he's trying to do it differently than I ever have. Without rules, without primary or secondary partners. Each relationship separate, unable to determine the course of any of the others. This model seems a little risky to me, but I already know that making rules about other romances doesn't work for me - rules never kept me or my partners from loving the wrong people. And what is love without risk? My lover has told me he'd like to be partners with me at some point - but that he wants to build toward that slowly, as he's recently out of a long partnership. I'm willing to explore this model of polyamory because it's important to him and new to me, and I know I want to build a life with him. Despite the long distance our connection feels strong and vibrant.
But there is something that makes me a little uneasy.
I don't know how to be in love with someone and not be their primary partner. I find myself jealous of the lover that lives in his city, who gets to see him several times a week. I respect their bond and I'm glad that it feels sweet and supportive to both of them - but I also see it as a relationship that might prevent him from ever building a life with me. I've only met her once; she's not in our community. She prefers not to know much about his other relationships; he hasn't told her that he and I are falling in love. This is her first poly relationship, and she isn't seeing anyone else. I keep feeling like he has a secret life, or that I'm a secret. I'm struggling with my desire to come first, to make our relationship public, to have "rights" of some kind, in a non-hierarchical scenario like this. I also know that even if he and I declared ourselves "partners" tomorrow, that wouldn't change the geography of our situation -- he'd still be seeing more of her than me (he and I haven't talked yet about one of us eventually relocating). This jealousy and doubt mostly comes up for me on rare nights like tonight when he hasn't made enough time to connect with me recently, and has a date with her. But when it does come up, it feels like a punch in the gut.
Does anyone else have experience doing this style of polyamory? Also, how can you tell the difference between jealousy that arises in the normal course of working out polyamory and jealousy that's a sign that there's something wrong with your situation? I've considered finding another lover to try to balance the situation, but I can't get interested in the people I'm meeting. I'm worried this issue might break what could otherwise be a long, fulfilling relationship. I'd love to hear from people who've been in similar situations, thanks!