I have been with my partner for over 8yrs and have recently started to identify as non-monogamous. I told her a few weeks ago and we’ve been having a really rough go at meeting each other emotionally. I actually stepped away from her for a week and it was one of the calmest times of my life, I felt free. I love her, but I also want to explore this b/c I’ve been suppressing it for a while now. How can we do this?

If spending time away from your partner made you feel calm and free, that’s a pretty major sign that something significant needs to change: either you need to heal a deep wound in that relationship, or you need to leave that relationship.

Non-monogamy is not a cure-all to solve existing problems in a relationship. Quite the opposite, in fact. Opening an existing relationship requires that relationship to be on a solid foundation of honesty, trust, and affection. If you two are struggling to meet each other’s needs right now, and spending time apart makes you feel better than spending time together, the immediate solution is not to try and explore non-monogamy.

You have two options: one is to stay in this relationship and try to address the fundamental issues preventing you from feeling calm and free. That may mean going to counseling together or reading some self-help books about communication and emotional intimacy together. If you discover that the issue is not with her specifically, but that you just won’t be happy in a monogamous relationship, that’s a different issue - but figuring that out will take time, honest introspection, and openness. 

The other option is to leave this relationship, not necessarily because you two can’t be non-monogamous together, but because regardless of the terms of your relationship, you are just not happy together. If you really believe that your recently expressed interest in non-monogamy is the only source of these issues, talk that out - but it sounds like it’s the opposite, that she isn’t meeting your needs and you’ve identified non-monogamy as a way to get those needs met without having to break up. That is, unfortunately, not how relationships work. If you truly felt so calm and free as soon as you got some space from her, my advice would be to make that space more permanent.