Polyamorous Skepchick, Heina (who, like many poly people I look to for good advice and experience, is open and out about being poly on her Facebook… *frustrated sigh*) posted an article: Polyamory: What No One Warned Me About. In it she discusses how in a monogamous relationship, when there’s a breakup, you have a lot of things you can fall back on to rationalize why, protecting your pride. But in a poly relationship, where people are free to date others and find in other partners things that they can get and share that is supplemental to your relationship… a breakup pretty much means they really just don’t want to be with you anymore, at all. And that can be devastating!
I imagine that, like any breakup, one can find solace in the idea that you are better off not spending valuable and rare time and energy on someone who really doesn’t want to be with you, that their choice to not be in a relationship says more about what they are looking for than it does on you — if you’re living sincerely and true to yourself. But, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt any less.
In my history, I’ve been the one to break off relationships, and it’s never been an easy thing. Well, the first sort of girlfriend I had fled the state immediately after graduating, not to be seen or heard from by me or her friends, so I really didn’t have to deal with the idea of “Was it me?!”
The next relationship I had after being married was circa 1998. I certainly wasn’t in love with her, but I was very fond of her and had an emotional connection, so I’d say it possibly counts as my first poly relationship. I broke it off with her after she told me she and her boyfriend liked to pretend to be each other online in the chat rooms we all frequented. That is an instant deal-breaker. She assured me that never happened with me, but how could I know? Someone who gets amusement from deceiving others, as a game, is not someone who I can trust. And that is one of my greatest nerve-tweaks. The fear that someone I’m talking to online is not actually them. It’s one thing to have someone, say, respond to a message on their phone while driving, telling the person what to type. That’s understandable, though still unnerving a bit. I want to know that the person I’m talking to is the person I believe I’m talking to. Anything else is deception I can’t abide.
The next was my first real, deep, poly relationship. We’d been together about a year before my wife and I separated (for issues related to poly), and then stayed together another year. Until finally, ultimatums and final decisions had to be made, and I made the decision to leave her and return to rebuild my marriage. That was extremely difficult, no lie. Because neither one of us wanted to break up, we didn’t have the excuse, “Well, we just weren’t compatible, or couldn’t be what each other needed,” etc.
That was 14 years ago and much has been learned since then.