I'm currently seeing a married man, D. We have been seeing each other for a little over three months. He and his wife have been poly for about three years, though she has had one long-term serious relationship and he has not had a serious other relationship yet. My husband and I have been poly for about 13 years. I have had a couple of experiences with other couples that ended badly (can give details if needed), but felt secure in entering into this relationship given that we each have a background in poly and each of us has previously demonstrated the desire and ability to work through our own issues and practice open communication, both things that were lacking in the situations I've been in that got messy.
The background (trying to keep it short) of the relationship is this: D and I had been seeing each other a couple of months, and had not had penetrative sex nor oral yet. We had had numerous sleepovers, made out, cuddling, etc but we were waiting on our test results before going to that next level of risk. Finally, we had both gone for testing and test results came back clean, and we had sex. Unfortunately it turned out that he had promised his wife, P, that he would take certain actions before and after we had sex for the first time (I don't know specifics but they were along the lines of comforting, disclosure, and making sure she had support in place at the time it happened), and when it happened we hadn't actually planned it for that particular night so he did not do these things. This happened right before Christmas and led to a lot of hurt and feeling forgotten on P's part, and a lot of healing and processing for them to do.
Thankfully, we had a meeting and talked through it and P expressed that there are some things D needs to work on as far as communication (I am still not sure of specifics). I chose to step back a fair bit for the month of January, both in the amount of affection/urgency I was communicating to him, and physically - making it clear to him that all of this had brought up anxieties from my past (think along the "homewrecker" internal dialogue track), and that I didn't feel safe emotionally doing anything really intimate.
It was nice, though - we still hung out, went on dates, cuddled at home, talked, shared feelings. Connected. During this time I realized I was falling (or had already fallen) in love.
So here we are in February. To be clear, P is not putting any limits on our relationship, no rules or anything. But I do know (and she has said) that any progression of our relationship will be a bit difficult for her. She has made it clear that she is committed to working through that. She and I are friends and touch base regularly. She says that there are just things D needs to work on as far as communication, and that while it's up to me whether I want to be here or not, that he will still have to work on these things, whether it's through this relationship or another one that comes up in the future.
I had been feeling like I was ready to go back to being physical with him, but then I realized that if we go there again, I will most certainly say, "I love you." I'm barely holding it in as it is and I know that the intimate experience of sex would make it impossible for me not to blurt out. And I feel like the combination of us sleeping together, and me telling him I love him (even though it's honest and obviously not intended to hurt anyone) would cause all sorts of things for P to have to work through. Yes, I know that wouldn't be my fault, but I do have the choice right now of whether to escalate things by sleeping with D.
Much of this comes back to trying to protect myself, though - I feel like, right now, I'm in a spot where I could walk away without being hurt too badly, if I need to. I'm concerned that if I sit on hold (by my own choice) for too long, I'll get frustrated or my heart or brain will rebel by cutting off my feelings. I trust them both and they have been very forthcoming and open, and I hope that that's enough to ensure we won't lose the friendship if this ends (my husband and I have been friends with the two of them for about three years, having met through the local poly group). And realistically I know it'll end at some point regardless (well maybe not, but realistically...), so that's something to consider either way.
I'm now wondering how much longer to wait. Do I wait until I get a clear signal from them that they're doing better? P says these are old issues - what if they don't work through them? I really don't want to be caught in the middle of that. I'm unsure of whether I should make a greater investment, or not... or just wait a few weeks and see.
I'm not a patient person, and I've been really feeling proud of myself so far.