Thank you GG and Meera, for your replies.
GG - I liked what you said about looking at behaviours, instead of feelings. It made me smile because I tend to be very feeling-focused, while she has a more practical mind. I think that's tangible advice.
There is no answer to that question. You are ready when you are ready. For you to be "ready faster" speaks to your needing reassure and being able to trust her with your emotional safety. She shows you behaviors that are nurturing and trust building and emotionally safe how? In the past and in the present?
You are exactly right... and this is why I'm stuck. I need to feel emotionally safe to make any kind of progression. Rushing me makes me feel emotionally unsafe. I've spoken to her tonight and she was under the impression that everything was ok... yet, I have felt further and further away from her since she exploded at me. I haven't been able to shake the sadness that something I saw in her (patience) has now gone.
How about stop talking about feelings and start talking about BEHAVIOR? What behaviors will she do to aid you? What behaviors will you do?
When I've tried to focus on behaviour, instead of feelings, she feels controlled and restricted. Things that you've read before, like the two-week dating break.
I think that the answer is staring me in the face and this relates to Meera's answer, also. She needs more autonomy and I need to make some kind of separation - even a separation of the mind; of my expectations. I had hope, but I think I've given up on expecting patience after this. I feel resigned. I feel like basically withdrawing some. There seems little point in trying to ask her to change her behaviour, because it makes her feel controlled; and little point in asking her to understand my feelings, because she just doesn't/can't.
So... to Meera's reply
Thank you so very much.
My experiences don't really qualify me to offer much advice to you, but one thing jumped out at me: meeting your girlfriend's lovers / potential lovers online is NOT working.
You are right. It's something I started thinking about a couple of months ago and I actually suggested the same thing that you suggested. Unless someone's becoming long term, do I really need to meet them? Especially since I have now seen that it doesn't really matter what I think of them, or how they interact with me. That's not meant to sound bitter... hahaha... I'm so tired that I think it just is what it is.
I also think you're right about me expecting too much from the initial meetings. I was thinking about that a couple of days ago too. It struck me that there might be a bit of a culture difference. Brits are typically a bit more formal and overly polite... hahaha.... I also date women and she dates men, so there's probably a gender difference, too.
Thank you for saying that you don't think she's being fair. That helps me look at what I can do to improve things, but also makes me feel understood and validated.
I think you've hit the nail on the head really with considering a new approach. As you say, I'd been heading towards that. My fear was that the things we found special about our relationship, the closeness, might fade. But you can't fit a square peg into a round hole and since things that I suggest don't seem to feel right to her, I think an autonomous approach would be a good thing. I'm pretty worn out from all the poly talk and maybe it will give us both a break. I also feel like I want to be quiet... have some time with my own thoughts.... so letting go of the reigns would probably be therapeutic.
Again, you hit the nail on the head. She is different to me and/or does have a different approach to dating. Reading your recognition of this hammered it home to me.
I have been taking a break from dating and probably will for a little while longer. It will be interesting to see what happens when I do date.... whether the feeling of freedom she gets from more autonomy makes her easy about my dating.... or whether she will actually understand my current struggles more when she is on the other side of the coin. Either way, it is all learning, and that can only be a good thing.