How to End a Poly Relationship in 7 Honest Steps

Breakups, the Polyamory Version:

“Sorry, babe: this just isn’t working out anymore. It’s not you, it’s us. It’s not me, it’s him. It’s not you, it was the sex club fiasco. It’s not you, I’m moving to Japan.”

Or some slight variation on the theme. Shit happens. And you gotta deal with that shit. So, even though I don’t know who shit or why, I tried to write a little guide to helping you clean the messy emotional shit that can come up in a relationship, especially since polyamorous relationships are full of some CRAZY SHIT! Still, can’t eat without shitting! Ain’t no beginning unless there is an end someday. And the highest truth is: “it’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.”

So, please takes these 7 steps to gracefully bow out of your poly relationship…

1. Take a moment to stop and reflect on the good times. Appreciate everything you shared with that sweet person who opened their heart to you.

2. Decide if you truly want to end a particular circumstance within the relationship, to create a new boundary to define you two (or more).

3. MAKE THE MOMENT OF TRUTH NOW. It started one day, so it has to end one day. Don’t drag it out forever, pretty please. Find your guts, and spill them out.

4. How will you separate from your partner? Will you tell them face to face? (Preferrable, but not always possible, or even the healthiest, sometimes…) Will you tell them over the phone? (Old school. Works every time. A five-minute “peace out” phone call? It’s the least a person could do, all things considered.) Will you, *gulp* text them? (I’ve NEVER done this, and will not speak on what I think about it, because… I’ve never done it. And I’ll just say I hope I never have to. It seems too… impersonal.) Or will you just… fade away into the sunset and stop returning their calls, texts and them ringing your doorbell with flowers, candy and burning questions? The choice is yours, but a healthy polyamorous relationship hopefully will end with the two (or more) people peacefully having one last conversation about their changing emotional connection in the relationship, and them respectfully going their own ways, however their personalities honesty think is fair. But: to me, the half-way point is SEPARATING. I don’t think it’s the end, not by a long shot.

5. How will you deal with seeing your partner with someone else, possibly someone you are friends or former/current lovers with? In the beginning, it might probably sting, hurt, cause jealousy, inspire envy, it might cause arousal, it might cause discomfort and frustration with yourself, or her and everyone in the room, it may cause you to think of getting with your last ex-lover out of spite or loneliness… who knows? But after you separate your intimate self from one of your polyamorous partners, I think it’s a CRUCIAL part of the post-connection process to accept that there will – probably – still be feelings there for them, and they are feelings that may not/should not be nurtured or explored… not if you were, or they were SERIOUS about separation! It’s human nature to want what we “can’t have” especially when we used to have it in the most magical ways! But… not any more.

6. Focus on your family, lovers, friends in new ways. The old clichés can apply (“the best way to get over an old lover is to get under a new lover!” Ha ha, just kidding… kinda.) But the truth is, there is no future in looking backwards, so you might as well actually take the steps you told yourself you were going to take because you needed to evolve from the place you were at. Polyamory is wonderful in the sense that, if you are practicing multiple partner poly, you will not be – alone – when one relationship ends, and you won’t necessarily have to be the typical cliché person at the bar, drowning their sorrows in alcohol (even though its a reliable temporary solution) or sitting on the couch with a tub of ice cream and Netflix rom-coms to binge watch with a tear-streaked face (even though it’s also a reliable temporary solution). Whether it’s positively focusing on your other poly partners that you are balancing better with, or its purging yourself of the negative toxins, patterns and habits or simply unworkable circumstances that brought your present poly situation to a conclusion, do what you have to do to keep your spirits up, and your heart healing from potential heartbreak. It will hurt a bit. It SHOULD hurt a bit when a poly partner leaves your life. But never forever.

This is what makes polyamory special to me. Because I’m not too sure this is “a thing” in monogamy.

7. Try to be friends. That’s what I ALWAYS do. I want to see my lovers happy with other lovers, and feel NO jealousy, envy, regret, shame, or need to go back to what once was. To completely separate from a partner in polyamory, I believe it’s necessary to reach the point of no return to romance (for right now), where you can watch them kiss, hug, and even fuck someone else and be like “Way to go! I’m happy for you and you and you! Damn, that’s a beautiful sight!” or some variation on such compersion-inflected kindness. Being respectful, if not at least respectful to each other while the other is healing, is the last step to a healthy trust switch and intimate boundary separation in polyamory. I highly recommend not hating anyone you loved when the fairytale comes to its final chapter.

But what do I know? I only have at least 7 lovers… and there is no sign of us separating anytime soon.

In love,
Addi Stewart

P.S. And you never know what could happen in the future! Love always has a drop of hope in its heart for the possibility of more… thank heavens for polyamory!

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