Surviving Change in Your Poly Relationships

Breakup, Breakdown or Breakthrough?

Nothing lasts forever. Change is the only constant. Life is a journey. All of these standard clichés apply to love as a monogamous individual getting married just as much as they apply to a polyamorous individual experiencing the unknown realities of long-term love. The reason we get into relationships is to share each other, discover the gems and blessings inside one another, and to learn from the struggles that our individual characters find when they happen to reach moments of disagreement, confusion, dishonesty, adjustment, hostility, ignorance, emotional eruption, infidelity, jealousy, anger and violence, if not anything else.

And even if a relationship literally becomes “happily ever after” and they don’t have any domestic dispute for the rest of their lives… people will eventually die. (Maybe they will die together while holding hands in some painless tragedy in storybook fashion, but that’s so impossibly rare and fantastical that it shouldn’t be hoped for by anyone.) The point I’m really saying is: Every movie has a final scene, and your life is the romance movie (maybe rom-com?) you are living right now. So, what do you do then, when the dream shatters?

I would like to make a few suggestions: You process. You reflect. You laugh. You cry. You assess. You cope. You heal. You play. You work. You lick your wounds. You hang out with friends and family. You let go of what you have to release, and you hold on to what you choose to cherish. But ultimately: You move on.

You do all this after (or during) your decision to make sure your partner(s) are also okay, because hopefully they are doing the exact same things, and wanting the exact same things for you too…

One thing you DON’T do is lash out negatively at your partner. Don’t try to have the last word, just to have it. Don’t call the next day with “additional thoughts” if those thoughts don’t come from the heart and aren’t things you already said before. Don’t make excuses to communicate things that are not healthy for the place and time your transitioning relationship is in. Don’t poison your network of friends and lovers with untrue gossip about your ex, and try not to repeat anything that wasn’t said between you two (or more) when you talk about “what happened”. Most people do talk behind other’s backs to some extent (as much as the world would be a better place without this behavior), but if it’s a necessary conversation with someone providing you a shoulder to cry on or just a friend to hear you out, try not to bash, slander, and curse the name of your former flame. It’s just not healthy for your heart to hold on to that bitterness, and you won’t be any closer to a solution if you sabotage their reputation.

Monogamy often places people in a possessive capitalist context, so when a breakup occurs, the ex-partner becomes a worthless possession that must be discarded as their usefulness has run out, since all people involved have apparently chosen to remain fixed in their irreconcilable differences. This is not a healthy approach to relationships in life, as it places people in a linear trail of exploitation, where you cannot return to the place within a person you once shared when they go from “girlfriend/boyfriend” to “ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend”. If any good energy was invested, it should be nurtured and cherished… in due time, of course. There is a solution to every problem, even though it usually can’t be reached with any ego demands or selfish expectations intact. So when the relationship crashes on the rocks of reality, people don’t have to get stranded alone or with someone they don’t care about. It is possible to salvage a future, but only AFTER the healing is done and the emotional damage has been far beyond repaired. The mourning period of any ended relationship is different depending on the person(s) and the depth/time/type/etc. of relationship involved, but I will never suggest that anything less than a civilized, dignified, honest respect is given to a previous partner when you can be in the same space as them and it not be a problem for them, or you, or anyone else.

Polyamory tries its best to teach us how to be that caring and compassionate towards our lovers, friends, ex-lovers, ex-friends, and family, as much as possible. Be true to yourself and everyone else, and hopefully you never really have a “break-up”, you just discover a time when those involved in the relationship need to “heal-up” whatever has “broken-down” between you.

Just thought I’d offer a few thoughts on how to navigate beyond the inevitable unknown changes that are bound to occur on the bittersweet journey towards joy.

Always in Love,
Addi Stewart

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