It’s really a far-fetched notion, you know. “Til death do us part” is just a vague intention in the actions and practiced patterns of behavior of most human beings. When those vows were written, people had lifespans that sometimes ended at thirty-five years old, if not in their twenties, so a late teenage or early twenties vow of lifetime dedication was not that hard to conceive or practice.
Thanks to penicillin, hot water and soap, and other inventions and therapeutics we have lifespans much longer than we ever used to… AND we have more diverse sexual and relationship options. And like genders and reproductive options, they keep expanding and growing. Life is wonderful and wild.
Another wild thing is understanding that, since relationships are not DESIGNED to last for an entire lifetime, not even with one’s parents or many of one’s relatives, then one can embrace the temporary transience of relationships as they were MEANT to be practiced. One can operate with a better understanding of “there’s a season and a reason for everyone that comes and goes in and out of your life.”
The other biblical comment that applies here is something that is hard to swallow and put into practice, but once it is in motion, it’s a serious evolutionary tool in the development of the human heart: “Have the courage to change the things you can change, to leave the things you can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This applies to love in weird ways, but it really is a hard truth to accept.
Some relationships are not desired to last forever, but some of them are desired to last longer than they ACTUALLY do, and it can be a hardcore shock to the system. Some people just do not feel the same levels of respect, honor, admiration, or intention for truthful communication. And out of nowhere, something that was thought to be a polyamorous adventure into pleasure and whatever turns into… nothing.
I’d like to discuss five ways of ending a relationship, but in descending order of empathy. Try to float near the top of the list if you can when you have to break things off the next time.
How to End a Poly Relationship
1. Break Up Face to Face
I find most of my poly relationships really don’t END end wherein I delete their number and forget their existence like some do to one another, so I don’t usually worry about seeing someone face to face to say, “Sorry, I feel like we shouldn’t continue to have sex.”
But some people have problems with face-to-face conversations and shut down or divert from the subject. It’s still better to do it there and then, instead of just letting perpendicular intentions continue unaddressed. Some relationships continue for days and weeks, even months, just because one person doesn’t have the courage to sit someone else down and say to their face, “We are over.”
It doesn’t have to be over, though, it can just be a change in parameters and boundaries or frequency of connection if necessary. Nevertheless, a face-to-face talk in a coffee shop or a park is a great place to be a civilized poly partner, to discuss one’s changing desires.
2. Phone call
This is the next best way to say things that are in your heart and soul. It sometimes can be dangerous to meet someone in person if there has been some manipulation or verbal or physical abuse, so stating one’s case over the telephone is occasionally the best thing to do.
Polyamory certainly has space for conversations that are challenging, so this is often the go-to choice to say sayonara. But I have never deleted a person’s number from my phone, not even if they were toxic. I might need it for legal matters later.
There certainly are numbers I will probably never call again, but the courtesy of giving or receiving a phone call about where things were at, and being honest about what we could or couldn’t give anymore is appreciated. It’s not the best way to cut things off if you never want to see this person again, but for a change in situation that still offers friendship and occasional communication, then a call is cool.
3. Break up by text
Here’s where things start to get clearly less cool. Circumstances should be unhealthy for one to resort to ending things by text, regardless of the reason. If one has invested a lot of time and energy and joy and truth into a relationship, one should a try to avoid ending things through texting, especially just one or two messages that withhold a sufficient amount of clear and honest explanation.
I have never ended a love relationship with a text message, and I would hope that you haven’t done either since high school. It’s not something I can condone, unless someone has crossed dangerous or painful boundaries, and further communication in person would be hazardous to your health. If this person really is not a problem, then meeting up and discussing issues and changed feelings should be the choice.
That’s on you, but you just have to know: the more shitty you break up with someone good, honest and wholesome, the more shitty the dating pool gets with broken people trying or failing to not continue the cycle of being hurt by people who hurt other people the way they’ve been hurt.
4. End it via a Friend
This is something I’ve only heard of other people doing, so I can’t even speak on it through personal experience. Some people can’t even communicate their endings of relationships through their own TEXTS, and actually ask other people to break up for them. I can’t imagine how dysfunctional things would have to be for this to be an option. I’ve heard of celebrities who have done this, so I guess it happens.
If one was to ask a poly partner who was a mutual partner to both of them to do the breaking up, I suppose that might be somewhat more civil, but at the same time it would be very painful. The possibility of the external partners staying friends is a healthy option, if possible. The person who had to do it shouldn’t have their relationship suffer because of things they’ve been asked to do on behalf of other poly partners, but that’s another post.
5. No Communication
Here we get to the worst of the worst, but the one that is used more often than anyone wants to admit: GHOSTING. The wake-up-one-day-and change-your-mind situation, where one person just stops responding and calling the other in any way. It usually goes on for days and weeks before it settles in, and that’s when it really starts to hurt.
Being someone who just vanishes might feel like the best option, but it’s very harsh and heartbreaking. Things have to be extremely toxic to justify just disappearing like Casper. Even a two-word text is better than just disappearing all ghostlike. It’s always your choice how to end things, just know that karma is real, and what goes around comes around in weird and mysterious ways.
Try to talk it out, and tell your poly partner what kind of changes you want to make, whether permanent or temporary. The love that might be gone could be unlike anything you’ll ever connect to again… and all anyone wants is to say “goodbye” properly and get closure, whether polyamorous or monogamously married.
I’m married to polyamory, and I’ll never ghost her!