I have to be honest... I think that your guidelines were far too strict.
Poly is supposed to be about nurturing the needs of both partners, not just the needs of one.
I hate cheating and lying. I can't stand it. I try never, ever to lie to my partner. But...
Sometimes lying is a sign of immaturity or a lack of integrity. Sometimes a person lies when they are simply fed up of dealing with so much trouble. It doesn't mean they want to lie... sometimes people can feel between a rock and a hard place.
I don't agree with what your girlfriend has done at all. But I can see why she has done it.
I really don't want to offend you at all... but this part struck me...
I told her if they hooked up, she was NOT to come home after (we share a place), nor the next morning, and that I didn’t want to smell another girl’s nether regions on her, ever. I was triggered. She saw that and calmed down. She assured me that she knew better, wasn’t going to do that, and just wanted to spend time with the girl before her trip. So I gave my blessing that they go out alone, again.
This needs work.
I was really proud of myself during this date. I stayed busy, took care of myself in positive ways, kept calm. My SO stayed in touch, and I felt secure. She came home and I was happy to see her and I wasn't in a negative head space.
I had MADE IT! I got past the demons, she stayed within bounds, and I was going to be okay with her seeing someone else. It felt really, really, good. Like I just climbed a mini Mount Everest in my polyness.
Again, truly not meaning to be rude... but all that happened here is that you unwittingly avoided
your demons by placing all these restrictions. All you were truly facing was that she was going out and acting within rules that you were happy with. Of course you could cope.
Sometimes we think we're overcoming something, but all we are doing is hiding from it.
My girlfriend recently slept with someone. The first person outside her husband and I, over our 1.5 year relationship. The dating stage was hard for me. The first time she slept with the guy was hard for me.
She told me afterwards that he was an ok lover, not top 5, not awful. I was disappointed. I'd rather not know anything. If I can tell myself "he's the best lover she's ever had" and still not feel threatened, then I'm really getting somewhere.
Do you know what I mean?
Incidentally, after her first date with this guy, my girlfriend told me that she couldn't wait any longer. 1.5 years of experimenting and failed dates and she was 'chomping at the bit' to sleep with someone else/him. She told me that if she couldn't do it soon, she was worried she'd end up breaking a guideline as she wouldn't be able to control herself.
That doesn't mean she was trying to force me. It means she was getting her needs on the table and saying "I cannot take this any slower."
That gave me the final push to suck it up and deal. And that was great. The waiting was more torturous than the event and I could finally deal with the reality.
Incidentally, our guidelines are things like:
- try not to have sex on the first date / try to wait until other partners have met them
- be considerate of time frames, get in touch if you are going to be over an hour late
- be kind to each other and soothe other
- understand that all parties feel stress about a date (not just those left at home)
- understand that we are human and we can act on impulse
These are the guidelines we had from the very beginning of our real poly, about a year ago. We're looking at adapting and loosening some of them.
Our strictest guideline is 'no overnight stays', as we want extra sexual partners, not extra people to be in love with and we feel overnights are too intimate. However, this rule has been adjusted in certain circumstances.
I really am all for guidelines, especially if they help to deal with feelings in the beginning. However, when guidelines essentially give you an excuse to run from feelings, they are dangerous.
I really don't believe in hard rules.
I don't know if this is going to help, but my SO and I have a number rating on things. We do this to be lighthearted, but also so that we know where we stand on grey areas. For example, I was recently invited by a girl I'm dating to come and meet her friends, then stay over, as we were meeting at night and I would miss the last train.
My girlfriend seemed to go back and forth on this, then I eventually asked for a number in terms of her comfort level. 0 is "couldn't be happier", 5 is "this could be a deal breaker for our relationship"... she was feeling at a 4, for various reasons.
Knowing this, I changed my date to an earlier time, met her friends, but didn't stay over. We compromised.
The idea of poly is to promote each other's freedom. Whilst compromise is essential and we should be considerate of our partner's feelings when we are the active poly people.... we also have to be considerate as the inactive partner.
If you do decide to continue in poly together, I'd strongly suggest that you both start putting things out on the table and trying to reach compromises. If she's saying "I need this now" and you're saying "I cannot handle this now", then a compromise would be "can you wait another week?" If neither can compromise, you basically have a deal breaker situation and you have to confront that.