Or at least not in the same way. Or maybe it’s just that circumstances make it impossible to “have” each other. Whatever the case, it still can be agonizing.
I imagine this is a common problem whether you’re poly or not but because poly people have more relationships, I think it probably is likely to happen more often.
So what can you do about it? After you’ve cried, asked for advice, confessed your love, cried some more, then what?
The short answer is that you just keep going on with your life. I KNOW that’s easier said than done and I hope these tips will help make it a little easier.
Realize that the love you feel/felt for that person was coming from YOU.
A lot of times people want to attribute all those positive feelings (elation, joy, passion, excitement) to the person they were focused on. Thinking that they “made” you that way or that you wouldn’t have felt that way if you hadn’t met them. That could be true, but more likely, they were just the catalyst. The amount you love another person is just a testament to how much you love yourself. You do it for you whether they reciprocate or not. That’s why we can feel love without reciprocation because it’s not dependent on them, it’s dependent on you.
Appreciate the opportunity to experience how your heart feels.
All those great feelings you felt when you were with this person or when you were fantasizing were probably the qualities of your true self. You are naturally a loving, open and kind person. This person didn’t make you that way, you already were that way. I once heard that when you feel fear, insecurity, or pain, that’s just your heart crying out for you to come back to it. Sometimes that raw pain actually feels nice, it’s like “oh yeah… I’m alive!” Feeling our essentially good qualities is easier to do when we think we’re in love but imagine if you could learn to do this anytime you want. That would be rad eh?
Remember that it will likely happen again.
It’s easy to love and be loved before all your baggage is unpacked and while it’s still awesome, it’s not rare. And if it happened that easily this time, it’s likely to happen that again and again. And often if you’re poly.
Admit it to yourself first, then tell the person if that feels right.
Sometimes you realize these feelings and are afraid to tell that person for fear of how they will react or that you will “lose” them. Remember, this isn’t about them; it’s about you. It’s an opportunity for you to honor your truth and practice sharing it with others. If they get freaked out, that says more about them than you. It’s not necessary though, just admitting it to yourself and being honest with yourself is enough in my opinion. Choosing to share it with the person or others is kind of besides the point. If you’ll regret not telling them or always wonder “what if” then it might be best to just say it so at least you don’t have regrets.
Consider that it might have been the fantasy of that person you were in love with.
When you first meet people, you’re your best self and so are they. There’s nothing wrong with that and there is some truth to it but it’s not the whole truth. We usually save the ugly, dark, shameful parts of ourself until we feel safe enough to let them be seen. Either we trust the person won’t run away out of love or we don’t care if they do anymore. Companionate love is what happens after all that stuff is out on the table and you still want to be around that person and they want to be around you. That doesn’t happen very often.
Make a list of all the reasons why life with this person probably wouldn’t work out.
Maybe that wouldn’t be helpful for you but it was for me. It’s not an attack on them as a person, it’s just an explanation of why the conditions are not likely to work out. When things are good, they feel like they should. Everything just clicks for BOTH people. If the other person isn’t feeling it too, something is amiss. Lists help to pinpoint it and help to illuminate the blind-spots.
Practice gratitude for everything you already have.
One thing I love about polyamory is that even if one relationship isn’t working out (how you planned), you could still have one or more that are still really solid. It is good practice and feels good to appreciate all the great things about my relationship that is going well. I’m grateful that I have a supportive partner and we have chosen this lifestyle because it allows me to go through this experience with a bit of a safety net and built in support network.
Redefine what your idea of love is.
A long time ago, I read a great article about how we put too much stock in the word “love”. We make it such a big deal when it’s not. I’ve fallen in love with people hours after meeting them. I can feel love for people I see in a documentary or read about in a book. I’ve felt love for strangers during particularly intense people watching sessions. Every time you feel love doesn’t have to turn into a romantic relationship or lifelong partnership. It can just be what it is, however fleeting or long-lasting it ends up being. It’s beautiful!