Fast forward... the only relationship in my life right now is long distance, and I meet a woman locally. We really hit it off and are flirting like crazy, even after I go out of my way to explain that I already have a girlfriend. It seems she's thinking that I'm "safely unavailable", and I finally explain that I'm very much available. And interested.
So begin the Long Talks. After considerable discussion, because this poly thing is very new and strange to her, she decides to start seeing me. "I don't know if I can make this work, but I'm really going to try." I might mention that she's good to excellent friends with most of her exes, which strikes me as promising.
And things go along very happily, but whenever I visit my out of town girlfriend, she is obsessed with thoughts:
- Will they have sex?
- Have they had sex?
- Are they having sex right now?
Now, the answer to some of those questions is, of course, "yes". That was clearly agreed to when we hooked up. And I try to comfort her and reassure her, but I'm having real problems.
What frustrates her is that however I try, I don't understand her problem. I try to draw parallels to one of her exes that she goes out with twice a week. (I'm usually invited, but don't always come.) "But you're fucking! Can't you see that makes all the difference in the world?" Er... no.
She's tried to get people to explain it to me, but all of her friends are mono and only have cheating experiences to share. Which involves a breach of trust that makes a huge difference to me.
Given that I'm not going to address these feelings in the "obvious" way (by forswearing my OSO), I'd like to understand them better so that I can address them more creatively. Generic comforting and reassurance about the importance of our relationship helps the symptoms, but they flare up just as strongly again next time.
She's really trying; one option on the table right now is "maybe it'll just keep hurting and I'll have to learn to live with the hurt". But an unhappy sweetie makes me unhappy and I desperately want to show her that it doesn't have to hurt.
But the first step is understanding the problem... and as I mentioned, we have a serious disconnect about her jealous feelings. I just can't empathize. And her mono friends aren't terribly comforting, either.
So, to help me build the bridge from my side... can anyone explain jealousy to me? I've heard it referred to in stories and literature a thousand times, but it's never explained very well. I've thought it was a fear of loss to a rival, but that doesn't seem to be quite accurate.
To her it's so obvious that she can't explain it, while I feel like a blind man struggling to understand colour. Help?
P.S. maybe it's just being such a drawn-out painful process because I only visit my out-of-town girlfriend a couple of times a year. My new sweetie says she could have never considered this if my girlfriend lived in town, but I wonder if it mightn't have been better to deal with this shit when things were new and patterns were still forming. Oh, well, the course of love is not known for running smooth...