Breaking up is hard to do. Even worse when more than two!
No one wants to anticipate a relationship ending. The heartbreaking emotions of anger, grief, rejection, betrayal, or unresolved needs is never a walk in the park.
But what if there are more than two of you? What if you are in a polyamorous arrangement and want to stop seeing X but your other partners don’t? What if you don’t want to break up with everyone? What if you feel betrayed or taken advantage of by your poly family, and now you are breaking off multiple love relationships? What if you are perfectly happy but one person wants to leave you, and her version of events means the others are angry with you or even abandoning you?
These are tough questions and there are no easy answers. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Remember, all breakups are difficult.
Complications and multiple losses and extended upheavals are not just poly. Every time a traditional couple divorces, there are tough issues about custody or adult children and friends and relatives taking sides. A person can lose many friends or family members and that is sometimes as painful as leaving lovers. Breaking up hurts, and there are always unexpected variables and repercussions. The world feels like it is coming to an end, because whether it’s two people or six, what has been built together is over. It’s painful, difficult, and complex.
2. Relationships that are worth saving, are worth saving.
Only you can know if the infraction or patterns that have led to a separation decision are trivial or serious. But before you go, consider whether what seems like a dealbreaker now may look different later on. Relationships that weather serious storms can grow stronger and more intimate. Running off at every human weakness may not be a good plan because someone new will also be an imperfect human.
Obviously this really depends on the nature of the situation. Abuse is a deal breaker, period. But what if a cooling off period, or saying you’re sorry, or accepting new terms, or taking a different perspective, can salvage the relationship? Sometimes, coming to the almost-over brink clears out a lot of dead branches and allows new life between lovers.
3. A time to mourn, a time to laugh.
Give yourself the time you need to mourn. It hurts, it’s heavy, and there’s no skipping the stress and grief.
But don’t lose perspective. Think of every breakup or loss you’ve ever had, and you’ll see that you will overcome this, too. Some of those losses you are no doubt now glad happened so your life could take a different turn. And you have grown in unexpected ways.
At the same time, do seek out ways to feel good. Relish invitations to life and laughter. Exercise, eat right, try new things.
4. Seek support and help.
Sometimes when your world changes drastically and you are grieving, angry, and broken, you think you’re alone but you’re not. You think there is no help or reprieve or order when there might be some.
Whether hiring a financial manager to get your affairs in order, seeking a therapist or spiritual comforter for counsel, or taking some time off work to spend time in the company of familiar family members far away, don’t try to figure it all out yourself. And you may still have some supportive polyamory partners in the picture.
Now’s the time to call up all those buddies, exes, co-workers, friends, and sisters who have ever said, “I’m there for you.”