Hi Jane! Yes, that is a lot of questions lol
I don't mind though, and I'll do my best to answer them all.. I'll provide as much info and detail as possible in case it is helpful to anyone.
First off - how long did it take us to make these realizations? Well its been an ongoing growth process, not really a sudden thing. The open relationship thing started almost from the very beginning, we both have never really believed in monogamy truly, it was more like the default starting place in our new relationship when we first got together lol. If that makes sense. I grew up on a hippie commune in the redwoods and have been exposed to polyamory from a young age and had friends that grew up in that type of family, so it has never seemed odd to me. She was the first to propose opening up the relationship, but not so much for herself, she has never had any interest in exploring outside of her relationship with me (until recently in the form of a triad). It started as a fantasy of hers for me to sleep with other people (to my happy surprise lol). I always knew I was never happy in monogamous relationships, so I was all for it. I also have a significantly higher sex drive than she does, so I always felt like I needed more to be happy sexually as well. I began to explore sexually in a casual way and quickly realized I need emotional connections and serious relationships in order to be happy and that casual sex, or even very brief relationships are not my thing. I become very emotionally close when in a relationship, and learn and grow together with that person, which takes time and commitment for me. Initially it was hard for her to accept the idea of me forming emotional connections with other people, and not just having "meaningless sex".
There was a period of time when I was unhappy because my emotional needs were not fulfilled due to not seeking real connections in my other "relationships". That was followed by a period of adjustment for her once she decided she did want me to find emotional fulfillment through a real relationship with another person.
All of that took a few years and we have been officially polyamorous for several years since (since 2006 I guess). I have always encouraged her to be herself and do what makes her happiest, but the only thing she has wanted so far is to share me with another person in a V or a triad. I find that I get so close and my ability and need to connect emotionally and physically is such that no one person has ever been enough. Meanwhile she feels overwhelmed by me without another person in the picture, but otherwise she insists she is happy with or without another person (that is also how some of my girlfriends have felt)
So how long did these relationships last? It varies, but probably averaged a few months. The longest have been a couple of relationships I had that lasted between 1 and 2 yrs. The most recent was a few months.
Why did they end? Oddly enough, it usually had nothing to do with the polyamory. Just standard incompatibilities, often lifestyle differences. Stuff that takes time to realize this person isn't a true match longterm, or they realize it, though it wasn't an issue as much in the short term perhaps. Like enjoying clubbing vs nature/hiking, or political differences or just way different philosophies and outlooks on life (true examples lol). We are very down to earth people who aren't into a lot of frills and fashion and social games. We prefer cheap beer to wine, and we shop at thrift stores and we like people to just be real
. Life is too short lol
Where did we meet them? Well the V ones where my wife wasn't directly in the relationship were mostly people I met socially, parties, through friends, going out on the weekends, and they were people interested in me that didn't object to me being married and in a poly relationship. The triad ones have been personals adds so far lol.
Overall we have found that the triads work best for us. She has grown more and more interested in connecting with the same person I connect with. We have also found that (for us) there is more potential for drama and jealousy when there are separate relationships happening simultaneously, though not always. But triads are also the most difficult to establish for us. Partly because the two of us are so different emotionally. We have a lot of interests in common and enjoy the same kinds of conversation and recreational activities and have similar life goals, so as long as another person also enjoys that stuff then we can all be pretty much lifestyle compatible. However we form very different kinds of relationships and connect at very different levels. So it has been a challenge to find a person who actually wants both kinds of connections, if that makes sense.
As for the whole "soul-mate" thing...I actually agree with you Jane, I don't believe in it either lol. I don't think I have one special person out there somewhere waiting for me. I guess what I meant is that we are not looking to continually date and look indefinitely. We hope to find a person compatible enough to stay with more long-term, and "settle down". Each person I have had a relationship with I have given my all to and connected with as much as possible, and it never had an expiration date, I just went with the flow. It never had a specific expectation of being forever either though, but if I knew for sure it wasn't going to last I would end it. Some people truly enjoy the dating process itself and find it exciting and fulfilling. In fact, I personally have met people who I am convinced consider themselves polyamorous not because they truly are wired to "love more than one" and need a serious relationship with more than one person, but because they don't want to ever stop dating lol. To me those are two different things. I like meeting new people and I like connecting, but I don't like casual dating endlessly or repeatedly forming very short-term connections again and again. It gets exhausting after awhile. We are wanting to share our life with another person longterm and a person who wants the same and with whom we are truly compatible enough to stay with could be called our "soulmate" I suppose
. We've talked about having a commitment ceremony in the past since it isn't legal to be married to more than one person.
As for my Science... I too have an undergraduate degree in biology, Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Evolution and Ecology. I have a lot of diverse interests in biology and it has been a lifelong interest for me. My work is in entomology
Well, there's a novel!