I confess I haven't thoroughly read this entire thread but, in skimming through it, these questions stood out to me:
Originally Posted by polyconundrum
When you have such an emotional connection to someone, can you just "downgrade" how you feel about them?
Originally Posted by polyconundrum
I feel like we should be able to do that kind of thing, but it's a huge mental hurdle to get over when you're the one who isn't happy with your "status" with the other person...how would you do it? Just not see each other for a while and then decide to start seeing each other again but taking it very slowly?
It is possible to detach a bit from a person you care deeply about, but I don't see it as a "downgrade." That makes it sound like it is less than ideal and sort of second-best or something. I don't know whether my story is similar to yours (since I didn't read it completely), but my feelings for a particular lover-friend of mine were really dominating my life for a while, and I had lots of meltdowns and crying jags when he started seeing someone else and spending less time with me. In my case, I had to confront my old patterns of thinking regarding relationships, which would spark certain feelings to arise. These patterns are connected to what I was taught while growing up and decisions I made at an early age about how to be in relationships. They are totally at odds with what I truly want for me, as an adult, right now.
So, for me, the key is lots and lots of self-examination, combined with a little purposeful distance from the situation or person that stirs up too much emotion to see things clearly. I had to look at my feelings and ask myself if they were organic responses to an event happening in the moment, or triggered by my pre-patterned thought processes. Some of my upset was a direct response to things he had said or done, but most of it was wrapped up in my expectations and old patterns, which caused me to feel very attached to him and dependent upon our relationship to validate me.
We had a loose, casual arrangement, which I totally wanted from the very beginning, but I would get sad and upset that we aren't bf/gf and probably never will be. I love him very much and my goal in life is to love without being attached. Often, when I say that, people don't really understand what I mean because they value the attachment. But I don't want my sense of who I am, whether I feel good about myself, etc., to be attached and dependent upon the status of my relationships.
So, because of wanting to pull back on my attachment to him, and other circumstances, I purposely worked on what I see as "pulling back" (rather than "downgrading") my emotional involvement or attachment to him. Whenever I would get into this emotional whirlwind while thinking about him, I would indulge it a little bit (sometimes tears feel good to release), but then I would stop and ask myself what it was really about. It was always more about my own insecurities than about him. Through this, I have reached a better place with less expectation placed on him. I also consciously forgave him and myself for some things that had me upset before. That is also very freeing.
Whenever I would do this sort of examination of my thoughts and feelings and actively detach by reminding myself to pull back on the emotional "hooks" I had in him, I would feel better and like I had clarity about who he is and who we are in relation to each other. And so, after two and a half months of doing this, I felt not attached to him anymore. But I didn't love him any less.
I still love him but that feeling just is. I can love and care deeply for someone without being attached to some sort of codependent need. And I can love and care deeply for someone and still have a little distance to keep me from falling into that place of expectation - which comes from a longing for something that my upbringing tells me I should want from relationships, but isn't actually what I really want. By having some distance and less attachment, I not only protect myself from hurt but I protect our relationship from imploding. I feel like I can be his friend again and not get all bent out of shape from wishing for more than that.
Does that make sense at all?