I am just bursting, I have to tell someone, so I'm going to tell you
I have been in a mono relationship for years, but have had a series of affairs and 'others' as we call them, to supplement my need for higher emotional connection and additional sexual connection. My exploration of relationships has always had the following 'conditions' from my partner:
1) they are to be short term
2) they must be far enough away that they don't interfere with our life together
3) she doesn't want to know anything about them
4) as soon as she is aware of them, they have to stop
5) she worried that I might prefer to be with someone more poly than she is.
18 months ago, having recognised that poly issues' weren't going to go away, and that these limits on relationships I could have were very restrictive and unfair for other people we were involved with, she agreed to a different rule set.
1) we *both* would explore a relationship with someone else
2) the relationships were free to develop in whatever way they wanted
neither of us were prepared for the ramifications of this.
She started a relationship within weeks of coming to this point, and my looking for a relationship seemed to make it 'not' happen. - though I did start to try to get to know someone, it didn't really go anywhere. Her relationship went in a direction I wasn't expecting at all (full on D/s) and I found that extremely difficult to deal with because I had always lead our relationship, and him taking over felt to me like I was becoming a second, not the primary..
Anyway. it ended up disasterously. He was 'playing without permission', and I didn't like that, He was trying to control my partner and I didn't like that, and I couldn't enjoy what I was doing because I felt I was loosing my primary, not adding to us.. result, I issued an ultimatum for her to end things, which eventually she did. She was hurt by that, and closed down my additional relationship too, and she declared 'the poly experiment is done. it doesn't work. She's mono, end of.'
Today is my birthday.
Last night we managed to have a pain free chat about all that happened with her and with me and our respective others. I floated that actually she wants to be mono because of fear of what poly brings, and that was the same for me, except that I know that I'm not mono, I am poly. we discussed that though we seem to communicate really well, there are times when for a variety of reasons we don't seem to have the vocaularly or the ability to discuss because we're always afraid of hurting one another.
I don't know if from today poly will ever be back on the table, but it's a wonderful birthday present to be sharing again on an intimate level that I am poly, and to find her open to accepting that, and considering what if any response she might make to that. it's a wonderful day