Being poly when primary relationship needs work
I am in a committed, long-term relationship. Not legally married because we can't be, but we do consider ourselves married. We've been poly from the beginning, almost 15 years ago, but neither of us have seriously dated anyone else since I broke up with my boyfriend 6 years ago.
After the breakup, I wasn't pushing to go back to dating anyone. I needed to heal, then my wife and I were planning our wedding, and then there were job changes, and life in general. Nothing that meant I couldn't, but things that kept me busy and took up lots of attention. We've also been trying, unsuccessfully, to get pregnant, and I've put a lot of other things on hold because I just didn't know what life would be like in 3, 6, 9 months from any given point.
I've had a couple false starts in the last couple years, with people that just weren't a good match. Things fizzled fairly quickly in both instances. Still, I felt that my wife had issues with both of them (not unfounded - part of the reason they fizzled). She hasn't said she doesn't want me to date, but I've been being very cautious about being actively poly again, partly to keep her comfortable. But I am realizing her comfort level isn't improving as long as there is no real person on the horizon. She doesn't know how she'll feel until there is a real situation to think about.
Currently, I'm getting closer to there being something with a new guy, very,very slowly and cautiously. My wife and I are also talking over all our old poly rules, and seeing if they still fit. Some do, some don't, and we're figuring out where we are comfortable now.
Being actively poly again makes me feel so happy. It's not this guy, although I like him a lot. It's the part that makes me feel like me again, after it being gone for a long time. In the past few years I've dropped a lot of things I used to enjoy, and being poly is just one of them. I am ready to start claiming some of that back.
But. Now that I am coming out of that fog of lost time, I am also realizing that my marriage is seriously lacking in a few areas. One of those, of course, is my desire to be poly again vs. her desire to let everything just go on as it has ben for the past few years. I am willing to do the work to bring it back to where it needs to be. We've made it through a lot together, and I don't have any doubts that we can make it through this, too.
Even if my marriage was 100% wonderful, I would feel the same about wanting to have outside relationships. No matter how many times I am willing to drop a new interest in order to keep my wife comfortable, the end is the same. I am still interested in seeing someone else.
I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with building up their primary relationship while also starting a secondary relationship? Most of the people I know in this position in real life have used being poly as a way to avoid the problems, and then end up getting divorced. Is it even possible to work on one without dropping the other?
Ideally, I'd like to continue to slowly pursue this new guy while working on things with my wife, but wondering if this is only a recipe for distaster and I am fooling myself if I think otherwise?