Thoughts on this journey

I appreciate the replies to my thread about becoming friends with exes, and other anecdotes and info on this topic I've been finding on the web. (Gen Zers feel free to ask me what the "web" is 😜)

I am recognizing it will probably take me more than a month to get enough over my feels for Maple that we can be actual friends, not the kind of friends where I'm at least subconsciously always hoping we'll get naked / fall in love again.

That's fine. At this moment, I feel secure in my autonomy—if that makes any sense—confident I will in fact move on, and the future will take care of itself. No need to worry about it. New intimate relationships await, and, perhaps even more important: life awaits, intimacy or no.
Had a second date with a new person—we seem to like each other and I reckon we'll keep seeing each other. She has a nesting partner and another partner, and it's interesting to hear about her experiences with polyamory and how it is or isn't working for her.

I kissed her goodnight; it was a little awkward, as first kisses sometimes are. That's fine, I've had plenty of times where chemistry takes a while to develop but ends up being really strong, perhaps this will be one of those.

But I must admit, it also makes me miss Maple and what we had. As much as I genuinely want to reach the point where she and I can be friends... I wish the potential for a physical relationship of some kind was still there, because our chemistry was off the charts (in my opinion, anyway).

Perhaps, when the time is right, I can straight up ask her about it. I can think of the reasons why friends + lovers might just not be possible, but who dares wins.

Bah, it sucks to not get what you want—especially when you don't really understand why you can't have it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
After giving it a lot of thought, I asked Maple for one more call to hear more about her decision to break up. We had that call last night. It was good—healing. I feel like I have closure.

Now I can move on, and I know it'll take until I don't care so much if we stay friends or not for us to have a friendship. Which is a strange paradox: how it can take not wanting something in order to have it. 😂

I've made connections with some new people, but I am giving a lot of thought to whether or not pursuing relationships is what I need right now. As the fires of longing for this relationship begin to subside, it's starting to feel like relationships are something I'm chasing in my life because I'm not sure what else to do to make my life "complete". Which isn't actually how I want to live.

The relationships I've mentioned on this board have taken me across the river into my forties, which is an arbitrary line but let's not pretend we aren't conditioned to notice it; I think I'm reaching another point where I must ask, and learn, "What do I actually want?"
Now I can't help but wonder why it is that Maple broke up with you so unexpectedly, and didn't even want to tell you why. I could see ghosting someone after one bad date, but after dating for several months, it seems rude and hurtful, unless she felt endangered by you somehow. And you don't strike me as an abuser!
You are misinterpreting the situation due to a lack of details, but, I mean, that's on me for not really sharing the details. 😜

Long story short, she and I worked really well for the places we each were in our lives these last six months. But, for a variety of reasons, the relationship has run its course. As much as it hurts nonetheless, I think she did the wise and kind thing by simply ending it now instead of dragging it out until there were no good feelings left between us.

The first conversation was confusing and unsatisfying, because she was upset and not very articulate, and I was stunned and also not very articulate. Now that we both have had some space and were more settled, I was able to ask curious questions, and she gave me honest and forthright answers.
Every time I see someone on the polyamory subreddit ask, "Is this poly?" I have to restrain myself from replying, "or is this dancer?"
Am definitely going back and forth on whether to continue the nascent dating I've had going on, given how incredibly crap I feel most of the time about this breakup.

What's interesting to consider is something I've seen polyamorous people talk about before: if I was at the point where I had multiple partners, not just people I was setting first or third dates with, how would I compartmentalize things appropriately? I actually think I'm handling the negative emotions pretty well, there are just a lot of them. So I would probably seek more than the ordinary amount of emotional support, while not wanting to turn my other relationships into me-therapy. And I might just be a little less available, in the same way I have less capacity for friends and work right now.

Well, someday I may have that situation in actuality, not in theory.
Not much to update here, because the process of grieving a relationship is boring to describe, read about, and—eventually—to experience. I do think I'm headed from "why did this have to end????!!!" to "ok, can I get over her please and move on with my li—no? Sigh, fine, I'll put on my moody Spotify playlist AGAIN" territory, so that's something. 😛

I canceled the date I had yesterday, and told the person where I was at—not that I didn't want to see them anymore, but that I didn't feel up to dating right now, maybe we could try again in a little while? And she gave me such a graceful, kind response, saying I should just take all the time I need, and we could go as slowly as necessary or just be friends for now. That felt very good. Maybe I'm good at picking 'em, even if I haven't figured out how to stay with 'em. ☺️
I can tell I'm slowly healing... very slowly. I did actually get back in touch with Maple, just to give a friends-level "here's what I've been up to, how about you?" update, and she replied in kind.

I think, and we'll find out if I'm right, this actually helps my brain more than strict no-contact does. What occurred to me is that no contact lets me fixate on the fantasy of what was and what I wish could be, whereas in the couple of interactions with the real Maple I've had, she's been merely friendly, and so have I: no big feelings exchanged, no "I miss you", it feels like "right, this is what being friends would be like." It might help.

Or it might not, check back in three months, and in six, and in a year, and we'll see. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Meanwhile, I am still sad. The sad feelings are best captured by Jeff Buckley, so, take it away:

Broken down and hungry for your love
With no way to feed it
Where are you tonight, child
You know how much I need it
Too young to hold on
And too old to just break free and run
It's never over
My kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
It's never over
All my riches for her smiles when I slept so soft against her
It's never over
All my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
It's never over
She's the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

Well maybe I'm just too young
To keep good love from going wrong
Oh, lover you should've come over
'Cause it's not too late
It's never over
She's the tear that hangs inside my soul forever
You know, artistry aside, I am at least old enough and experienced enough to know this is as false as it is true. When my very first romantic relationship ended, I was absolutely shattered. But that was almost twenty years ago, and I never think about her anymore, except when comparisons like this occur to me. And even when I do think about how it went down, I can remember isolated moments, and I know they were very painful, but the actual pain is not present.

It is perhaps a merciful aspect of our imperfect memories that we don't really remember feelings with the intensity we felt them (I don't, anyway, YMMV).

And I can also observe: the previous ex I was fixated on? I thought about her a lot less once I was with Maple. When my hungry brain has something else to occupy itself, the tear is not so heavy, whether it hangs inside my soul forever or not. So it'll go with this tear, I expect.
I continue healing, and processing, in the wake of breakups. Meanwhile, I am very gradually getting back into dating. I've gone back and forth: maybe I just want to be totally single for a while and see where life leads me? And that might be true.

But the fact is, I want connection and I am not inclined to totally stop seeking it.

I am only attempting to connect with explicitly polyamorous people, and I'm actually more interested in people who already have partners than not, right now; I want to feel connected with people, romantically and sexually, but I do not want to fall into the trap of increasing attachment in the way I did with Maple. Dating someone where they simply don't have the time to become as much of an emotional support... is appealing right now.

So to that end, I have a date tomorrow and we'll see how it goes. Among other things, I would be happy to just end up with some friends who are also poly.
Had a first date tonight, it was lovely. It is extremely nice to meet other people who are similarly neurodivergent, polyamorous, kinky, etc; unconventional in ways similar to me. It feels good to see someone as they are, and feel seen in return. Happy. 😊
Observation (mostly related to reading other people's anecdotes elsewhere): When you start treating dating like a gradual search for only the best relationships for you, instead of an urgent search for any relationship at all, you get a lot more selective about who you bother to date, and have a much better time.
Was out of town last week, came back with Covid. ☠️ Symptoms aren't *too* bad, but I'm stuck at home and I'm bored. I might finally be getting sick of reading about other people's relationship struggles (e.g. here and on the poly subreddit); it's just the same, say, 23 problems, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

So it goes.
I hope you get through COVID as easily as possible.