Learning to cope


New member
Hello, all. :)

I'm a hetero, atheist male in my early 30's. I went to school for sociology, among other things, and work in residential treatment; essentially, a mental institute for teens.

Until recently I've never been interested in poly relationships and, honestly, until the last few months I'd never really heard much about them. So, I'm sort of taking the crash course... Up until now, all of my relationships have been hetero and exclusive. I do, however, accept that it's possible to experience emotional love for more than one person simultaneously.

My situation is that I recently traveled to meet a friend, for the first time face-to-face, I've been speaking to online for a number of years. Though I wasn't expecting much more than a friendly visit, there was a lot of chemistry between us and the visit became a lot more friendly than I'd anticipated. We've always felt a strong connection, almost from the moment first started talking online, but I think the intensity of it caught us both a bit by surprise when we met face-to-face.

The problem is that I can't really see a traditional relationship working for us. For starters, there's a 500+ mile distance between where we live. We've both been in long-distance relationships before and know how bad they can suck; especially since we're both extremely physically-oriented people. There is also an age issue - she's 21 and I'll be 32 in a couple weeks. Admittedly, the age gap isn't as big of a deal for us as for some people, but it is something to keep in mind.

I've known for years that she describes herself as pansexual but this never bothered me in the slightest, though up until recently I've never really considered a romantic relationship with her. Furthermore, a bit over a week before I visited her, she broke off a relationship with another partner who lived further away, and was older, than I am. Lastly, we're in two different places when it comes to what we're looking for in a relationship. I'm honestly looking for a serious commitment, possibly someone to start a family with and she's more interested in casual dating at this time - she says her relationships "never get serious."

So, after two sublime days with her, I had to return home. Because of the issues involved we decided not to pursue the relationship further at this time. Well, mostly, I was the one who was hesitant to enter an official, let alone exclusive, relationship like I'm familiar with. I told her to keep seeing other people and I've tried to do the same. We've both been active on online dating sites.

Though she's looked a good deal online for dates with other women, she's had the most luck with finding other men. She's been on several dates since I returned home and it's been important to me to remain supportive of this. Though I don't honestly feel threatened by the idea of her dating another woman, I've often felt jealous when she's gone on dates with other men, though I've tried to shield her from these feelings. I know that this situation is mostly of my own doing and, though I have strong feelings for her, I want foremost for her to be happy and continue searching for fulfilling relationships.

Throughout this, she's been very open with me about the dates she's been on and the men she's seen. We've talked several times through texts, IM, and over facebook. We both continue to express having feelings for one another. Because of this, I've been doing a lot of research into polyamory and, especially, compersion. I hate feeling jealous and hate the cold, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach I sometimes get when she tells me about how a recent date went. When a recent one-night-stand left her feeling rejected and used I was apparently the first person she turned to for reassurance and I did the best I could to make her feel better about the situation.

I've had some success in overcoming my jealousy and not feeling so wretched when talking to her about her continued attempts at dating. All things considered, I'm doing a lot better than I'd ever have expected to. The way I've felt after hearing about her recent sexual encounters, though, shows that that I've still got a long way to go before I'll be truly 'okay' with all of this. :(

So, here I am. Mostly, I initially plan on reading the stories and suggestions other forumites share. I'm not confident that my experiences will give me the perspective I need to offer much in the way of helpful feedback at the moment but I'll attempt to do more than just lurk. ;)

For the record, I've made some connections with other women since returning home. I haven't been just moping and pining around. Out of these women, there's only one that I'm considering dating seriously, but I haven't actually gone out on a date with all of them yet. I do have some tentative plans to get together with them, though, so hopefully things go well...
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Thanks! :D

I've been trying to get around and absorb as much as I can; made a couple comments where I found something where I did have a bit of experience. Only been here a short while and I'm already finding my stay to be quite rewarding. :)