Hey guys! Thanks for the responses!
And thank you. I really hope it's not a wiring issue, though, and I find that thought pretty disheartening. It's not that poly is totally appalling to me, and I definitely know that I have the capacity to have feelings for multiple people and not experience a lessening in the feelings for any individual, but I'm having an unfortunate, insecure reaction. One that ties in a lot to insecurities I'm already trying to deal with. I intend to work really hard at this and try to patch myself up, so, yes. It would be kind of heart-breaking if I was going through all this effort to make this work and it turned out I was "wired" a different way or something. (I also generally believe, from a logical standpoint, that it's not "wiring" so much as it is a combination of confidence and upbringing; the product of nurture more than nature, that is.)
It made me feel relieved to read your post.
I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. And yes, you're quite right; it did seem like this only became an issue once I no longer had someone on the table and she did. I guess I mostly just became overwhelmed by how MUCH of an issue it suddenly was. I was surprised by the nearly 180 degree turn. Really, self? You're fine as long as you've got someone, but then it's Threat to Self mode if you don't?
I'm uncertain of how to proceed now. I keep coming up with hypothetical scenarios:
1) If I managed to find someone, would I chill out about it again and be able to proceed?
2) If I didn't feel like she had that assignation in the future, would I be able to relax more and not have this urgent sense of "I MUST FIND SOMEONE"?
3) If we went at it ripping-off-the-bandaid style, if she had one encounter (not the full week trip, perhaps) with someone else and then I saw that the world hadn't ended, would I be able to face this more reasonably?
I know you can't answer those questions for me, but it helps to try to get it all out in a linear way. And if you have any insights on them, feel free to share!
Well, that's part of the problem. I DO actually want to be able to "date" other people, or whatever the right term is. In previous relationships, I have definitely had feelings, either sexual or romantic or both, for people outside the relationship. Generally, I either shoved them down and away and ignored them until the relationship ended on its own, or, if the original relationship wasn't doing well, I pined and longed for those other people until it made me irritable and angry with my original partner. That's not to say that monogamy would be impossible for me, but I have a definite interest in having some flexibility.
And I keep going back to two things my girlfriend said. First, assuring me that she wanted to be with me, and that she didn't intend to leave me for someone who could easily do poly; that being with me was more important than the relationship being open. That it's okay if I take a while, since we're in a marathon, not a sprint.
But second, that she really did want to have some degree of openness at some point in the future. I feel like maybe she'd manage if we just did threesomes once in a while, but I want her to be genuinely fulfilled, not "managing."
So, ah, like I said to dingedheart, I really hope it's not wiring. If it IS wiring that means...I'm...what....wired to want to date others but to be incapable of seeing my partner do the same? O.O D: I don't want to be that person.
What's especially funny to me is that right now, I'm not even worrying about the thought of her with other people. What's agonizing me is worrying about her getting frustrated if I keep having trouble with this. *headdesk* I think....I think I'm going to ask her if she wants to keep it open after all. And just suck it up, go to therapy, and hope that the combination of finding someone for myself and seeing the world NOT end when she has someone will help be get back into the flow.