I thought I would reply here. I get the difference between being poly and doing poly. I've seen a lot of relationships sort of implode, the person being more 'situational poly' in that there was an existing relationship and then someone else they fell in love with. I have seen that go badly, they lose one of the partners and then remain monogamous with the other. I think I've come to terms with just being poly. Do I have to have X number of relationships? No, but I like being able to just be me and if I like someone behave as I feel appropriate without worrying that it's something a married woman shouldn't be doing.
Now, personally I don't believe in 'hardwired poly'. You can be hard wired non mono, but poly sort of entails a relationship type. TO ME. Let me not start an argument here. To me, poly is deciding to be open and honest and setting the communication levels where you can discuss boundaries and steps taken in relationships, in other words, it's the work of the relationship model. Not the predilection to feeling romantic feelings for more than one person.
As far as the guilt you feel, part of it might be that things weren't done as well as they could have been. That, it sounds like, all three of you had some communication errors that caused more heartache than they should have. Some of it, to me at least, sounds like what I jokingly refer to as "Hinge Guilt".
It comes from knowing that while you don't love one person more than another, and no one person gets love taken from them so you can love the other, that you are still human and therefore only have so much time and energy. That feeling that BECAUSE you love them both, you feel maybe they deserve more than just part of your time. That you would LOVE to be giving all of the energy and time you have for romantic and intimate relationships (emotional and physical) to them both, but until cloning comes about not really possible. I get it and I even wonder if they could do better, that especially when your two people have only you, you feel badly that they deserve to have an 'only me' for them as well, but it can't be you. I don't know if that makes total sense to anyone else but a lot of times I just wish I could split in two and then it would feel more 'fair'.
I understand of course, in my head, that the idea of 'fair' is a fluid one and often a misguided one. Yet once in awhile, I still get that guilt creeping up. Now, granted, neither of my partners has to be with just me and I would be happy to share them! There are always women complaining about the shortage of good guys so why not share mine and be able to say, 'See? He is awesome isn't he?'. However, both have been open but not really in a place where they want another relationship. SO I learn to respect that and try NOT to feel that guilt that they deserve me 'full time'.
(DISCLAIMER: I get it, people are going to want to argue that they DO have me full time, or that they wouldn't have me full time even if I was in just a mono relationship since we all have other commitments, kids, job, school. I didn't say this was all logical! I said it's how I sometimes FEEL. My feelings tend to sometimes follow a more 'Joker Logic' than a Spock logic.)
Me: Late 30s pansexual poly.
DH: My husband of 19 yrs and father of 3 teen girls.
DC: LDR of +4 year