I believe that a massive amount of the chaos and confusion that exists in the world exists primarily because people can’t identify and understand the reality they are involved in, thus over react or misinterpret the situation and do not behave appropriately with a solution, but cause some irresponsible reaction at best, and a violent reply at worst. This can all be avoided, if we understand what we are feeling and what we think we are supposed to be doing to solve the situation.
This is evidently obvious in monogamy, and with such straightforward styles of partnership and intimacy, it’s pretty easy to define and delineate what is happening… and what is going to NOT be happening when it’s time for things to change.
But in polyamory, it’s not as easy, especially when emotions are that much more nebulous, malleable and undefineable! It’s truly emotionally intelligent to understand one particular thing in polyamory: HOW MUCH you want to be apart from someone.
I don’t think we exist completely in this yin-yang binary boundary, where everything is all or nothing. Some people inspire real grey area emotions, where they manifest feeling on one level, and destroy feeling on another level. And that is where I’d like to make some suggestions!
Different Kinds of Breakups in Polyamory
Break. Here you just want to take a short recess from a lover. There are times when it’s just smart or necessary to take a break, and make some emotional and physical space. Some people say “let’s take a break” when they are too afraid to actually separate, but that’s not what I’m discussing here. I’m discussing people who take full responsibility for the meaning of their words, and actually still care to continue a relationship with someone, but need some time apart… temporarily. Breaks are a good thing, because absence does make the heart grow fonder, and some people need less proximity to find more pleasure.
Break Up. The traditional end of a relationship, where the intimacy has stopped being shared, and a decision is made by someone or by everyone to stop. Sex has become a thing that may be off the table (but many people break up and still have sex, please don’t get it confused, cause I would never judge that behaviour, haha!) but the truth is, the idea of growing a relationship with someone is non-negotiable for the present moment, and the choice for a breakup is being made by someone. Most sexual relationships end in the traditional breakup, where consistent quality time together stops happening. In polyamory, this is also the case, except there may be more emotional complications from the possible external entanglements a couple may have manifested (other primary poly partners, other friends as lovers, friends, family, pets, work, etc.) But a break up doesn’t have to mean the end of the entire relationship, so keep hope alive.
Breakdown. This term is applicable when there is absolutely nothing left to salvage from a relationship with someone. When things are so very far past the point of no return, it’s virtually impossible to see any way there can be any reconciliation or reconnection. This is when you have had enough of their energy, and you have felt nothing but destroyed potential and desolate pain whenever the thought of this person comes to mind. Some people have just reached the depths of darkness and drama with their partners, and everything has broken down. Not a single sentence can be shared without snide remarks, attacks, jealousy, rage or anger being sparked. This is a total breakdown of connection, and it’s something that time can only heal sometimes.
Break Out. The grand finale. I reserve this term for the person who had to leave town to escape a bad partner, or had to move back in with their parents because they are in an emergency. This is what happens when a person has to change identities, or evacuate their life as they know it. I hope you never have had to break out from a partner, and I hope nobody you know has had to, either. It’s scary and insane to have a sexual situation take control of your reality and safety in such a severe way, and anyone struggling with a partner that has them on the verge of a break out, please help them. I know a few very dysfunctional people in the poly world that have caused other partners to break furniture, then break out from the social circle we all knew them in, and it was NOT good. Try not to be so selfish, destructive and brutal that you cause someone to break out of a relationship with you. Please and thank you!
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