Breaking up. No one wants to talk about it, but it happens all the time. Sadly, I’ve experienced it several times, with the most recent break up just two months ago. Prior to that break up, my local partner ended our relationship because of time constraints. Our schedules weren’t allowing us to spend the much needed time together that we both craved. Breaking up with him was devastating to me. I’d never experienced a breakup with someone where it was amicable and the other person put my needs before theirs. It took me several weeks and countless conversations with a few of my friends to realize that the ending of the relationship was for the best. But that didn’t change how bad it hurt. I experienced this deep hurt and feelings of loneliness despite having other partners. My other partners attempted to help the best way they could, but I truly had to heal on my own.
I believe that most monogamous people don’t understand that when someone ends a poly relationship, it’s the same as if they’ve ended a relationship. I talked to a few of my mono friends about the break ups who said, “Oh, well you have other partners, right, why are you sad?” I guess that was them attempting to be helpful, but it was definitely the wrong thing to say to someone who was hurting emotionally.
A common misconception that monogamous people have about poly relationships is that your partners are disposable, and, if you lose one, you have other partners to make up for that person. Well that’s the farthest from the truth!! All of the people who I’ve had relationships with I loved and valued because of their differences as people. I wanted to yell, would you say that to someone who lost a child and had other children? Oh well, you have other children so you shouldn’t be sad. How foolish would that be?? Mono people need to know that you can’t replace individuality.
After my last breakup, I decided that it was time to take a step back and look at myself. This relationship was BDSM in nature, and there was a whole other component and issues surrounding the ending of my contract with my Dominant. And even though I was the one that ended the relationship, it still hurt. I took several days for myself to practice some self care, and, when I felt better, I started to search for books or articles on breaking up while poly. I even posed the question on how to deal with breaking up in a poly Facebook group that’s devoted to poly dating. Everyone gave various answers on how they dealt with breakups. I also went to my favorite website, morethantwo.com, to get answers as well. There was an article entitled Letting go when things don’t work that gave me the framework to start thinking about ending relationships and what they mean in the poly community.
Within the group, we had several conversations surrounding breaking up with someone. One of the questions that had heated discussions was, when you break up with someone, do you break up with everyone in the family? So for instance if you’re in a triad and you break up with the male partner, would you still maintain your relationship with the female partner and vice versa. We also talked about how children deal with breakups within the poly community. I feel that’s one of the hardest things to deal with when you end a relationship. If the person has kids you have become close to and it ends abruptly, neither one of you can stay in contact with each other. I personally dealt with that situation. One of my partners has two children that I’d grown to really love, and once we broke up I wasn’t able to see them anymore.
Another topic that we discussed was how much communication, if any, will you have once you’ve broken up with that person. Now, of course, if it was on bad terms most people choose not to keep the lines of communication open, but what if the breakup was mutually agreed upon? Do we remain friends on social media? Do we still text or talk on the phone? I realized these questions can only be answered based on what an individual wants and how they feel. I learned that there is no clear cut answer on how to handle or process breaking up with someone in the poly community.
On a personal note, I took things that I learned from the breakups to heal a few old emotional wounds. All and all, these breakups were an eye-opener and it helped me take stock in myself and grow in my poly journey.