Poly communities are small, so the ending of a relationship tends to affect more than two people. Break ups are common with lots of dating and multiple partners involved. There’s a lot of transitioning so things should be handled with maturity and style. I know, easier said than done when our feelings are hurt. But remember, there’s good chance you’re going to run into exes in the community so ruining your reputation is not a great idea.
The goal is to be able to co-exist in your poly community after a breakup. How you end things depends on the issues, but making a conscious decision that remaining friendly even if it takes some time after a break up is vital. Of course, there are exceptions such as when abuse is involved.
At the beginning of new relationships when other poly issues are being discussed, it’s a chance to also discuss how the two of you have handled endings in the past. Perhaps a potential partner’s current relations with exes is something to examine. This will help if your new relationship does end when NRE is in full swing – when it’s difficult to be rational and make good decisions. Long-term relationships have a better chance of ending maturely because communication skills have developed.
As in monogamous relationships, many poly partnerships that you see as lasting a lifetime don’t. Not trying to be a downer, just realistic. In triads, the thirds often come and go. Recognizing this will help you to appreciate the things in your life right now and changes easier to bear.
Whatever the reason for a breakup, no one will expect you to be best friends immediately, and you shouldn’t. No matter how well or bad things ended, it’s important to give your heart time to heal. When and if you’re ready for socialization, start slow in group situations rather than one-on-ones. Monitor how you feel.
If you need to take a break from the community, do it, polys understand. You have to be able to handle seeing your ex moving on with someone new or even with another ex – not easy! Just don’t avoid social events forever. It does get easier.
Also, don’t fixate on what other polys are thinking or possibly saying about your breakup. No one knows a relationship except for the two or three people directly involved. Worrying about what others think is a waste of time and will cloud your emotions. Most people are busy managing and enjoying their own relationships to worry about your love life.
Remember poly breakups happen a lot in the community, so focus on healing and moving on.