polyamory and breakups: a relationship post-mortem
And how breakups will be always be a common denominator between polyamorous and monogamous folks
A lot of polyam people use the word “de-escalate” to describe how we transition out of a relationship. I have many gripes about this and all the terminology used to force a differentiation from monogamy when we should be connecting what we have in common. Like how fucking terrible break-ups are. You’d think that I’d be immune to it after going through a divorce and ending an 8+ year relationship with someone. Maybe it’s the grief that grows with each defeat. This one doesn’t hurt as deep, but the surface area and scabs already exist.
My friends will rush to tell me what they’d want to hear. But I’m always grateful for the circumstances in which I can be with someone I want to be with. What they don’t understand is, I wanted to fall in love in and with San Francisco. And I did. It made the most insignificant parts of the city romantic landmarks in my memory. Part of me wants to Eternal Sunshine those memories including that one time he nearly climbed over the table to give me a kiss before excusing himself from the table. Or that other time he traced his fingers along my inner thigh as he remarked on how the juicy chicken thighs were on the menu at the izakaya spot he took me to. I’d zap and erase all the memories of how I’d feel his eyes on me the second I walked into any room. And how urgently and instantly we were able to reconnect despite only seeing each other so infrequently. It made me realize I could charm and seduce someone intellectually, not just sexually. And it made me understand myself enough to walk away from something that wasn’t meeting my needs.
“My needs” sounds so incredibly selfish but relationship ROI is so important to me. Despite being single and careless with disposable income, my time and resources are limited. I don’t want to invest either into something that doesn’t make me happy. I’m not polyamorous and dating just to pass the time. I want to feel the feels and when I do, I need to explore it and grow it.
I saw all the deficits begin to affect my other longer term relationship. I used to come home to my boyfriend re-energized and loved sharing everything with him. After my last trip, I felt so empty and detached that I had to end a bondage scene because I just needed love and affection that I didn’t get from my other partner.
Which is why for the first time in my romantic history, I initiated a breakup and ended a relationship with someone. Nobody told me it could be this rough on the other side. Nobody told me how awful it is to be on the receiving end of, “I don’t want to lose you.”
It cut into me so terribly that I spent the morning crying in my boyfriend’s arms. The one unique thing about ending a relationship while in another relationship is the support you get from your existing partners. They might not understand at that moment that your pain isn’t just in losing this person, but the fear that if you don’t learn whatever lesson you’re supposed to learn from a break-up, that it’ll plague your relationship.
I don’t know what that lesson is other than relationship ROI matters to me. And that breakups are terrible whether you’re monogamous or polyamorous. You get that “I miss you” text weeks later and it stresses you out so much that you literally break into hives and can’t leave the bed. That you were told if you break up with someone it meant you could never be together again, but all I want is to be with him again. So I put on Eternal Sunshine and try to figure out how to get over someone without hacking my brain.