Breaking up is horrible under any circumstance, but leaving a poly relationship can feel even worse because there are so many moving parts to poly life, and changes made to any part can affect the whole.
I’m writing from the perspective of a solo poly partner involved in an egalitarian, polyfidelity-based relationship. Your experiences might differ if you’re breaking out of a more casual dynamic. In any case, here are a few guidelines for making the split a little easier.
Do Cut Contact with Your Ex for at least a Month
Cutting contact with your ex will help you to heal faster. Going cold turkey might feel torturous at first, but it will give you the necessary distance to gain some perspective and renew your strength. In addition to not calling or texting your ex, be sure to unfollow them on social media as cyber stalking only serves to deepen your wounds.
Don’t Ask Your Polycule to Take Sides
Things are going to get painful and complicated. Don’t feel guilty if you need to cut contact with your entire polycule for a period of time, especially if you feel this will keep you from asking anyone to take sides. Putting that kind of pressure on the group can cause long-term damage to more than one relationship, and it won’t make you feel any better in the long run.
Do Seek Support from Friends and Family
You’re going to feel awful for a while. Poly breakups can be harder to cope with than monogamous ones because, as mentioned, you’re not only losing a partner but (potentially) a great deal of your support network, at least temporarily. Reach out to the poly-supportive members of your social circle. If you don’t have any, or you’d rather not be so vulnerable in their midst, seek out the help of a therapist.
Don’t Poison Your Ex’s other Relationships
If your ex really hurt you with the breakup, you might feel justified in approaching their other partners in order to warn them of shit to come. Don’t do it. This is one reason I recommend taking time away from your poly circle after the split. This rule does NOT apply, however, if your ex has been abusive towards you. You are always entitled to speak up, get the support you need, and warn others of possible danger.
Do Be Kind to Yourself
You might find it hard to cope at first, especially if you’re not eating or sleeping well. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a hard time concentrating, or maintaining your regular level of productivity. I realize that life’s responsibilities don’t always afford us time to process our emotions. You might have an unsympathetic boss, or a demanding home life, but that doesn’t mean you should internalize these pressures and punish yourself all the more.
Don’t Rush into another Relationship
Rebounding is not advised. In poly circles it’s an even worse idea than usual, due to the complexities of poly ties and the potential for widespread pain. That said, I think there is a place for casual hookups in the wake of a shitty poly breakup. The key to making this work is finding partners who want the same thing. Online dating sites are a good place to start. Just be up front about what you need and maybe place a timeline on your arrangement.