Like many, Angel stumbled into polyamory quite by accident. She and her husband have been happily married for four years, and recently opened their marriage and their hearts to the possibility of poly relationships. She shares the ups and downs of being new to the lifestyle and navigating the emotional and practical issues that come along with it.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

Fluid Bonding

Realistically speaking you are not likely to maintain life-long romantic relationships with every single person whom you become involved with. For one thing people are fluid, as are relationships, ever changing, growing, evolving. People grow apart, grow together, and sometimes they decide that it's best to go in completly separate directions. When this happens in a poly setting the effects are not just felt by the two people who part ways, often the ripples are felt thoughout their entire network. It is especially important to handle breakups with poise and maturity, since it's more than likely you will continue to run into your ex at social functions.

Most of us are familiar with how hard breakups can be. The ending of a relationship, especially if it was not a decision reached mutually, can be very painful. This is easily aggravated in poly situations because although one relationship could be ending in the romantic capacity, other members of your family might continue to be involved with your ex. It is nearly impossible to effectively remove them from your life completely, so you'd best buck up and handle it like an adult. There is no use trying to avoid dealing with situations involving ex's so you must decide how you are going to cope with being around them.

Even if no one else in your immediate poly family is involved with your ex, you are likely to share a good number of mutual friends. No one wants to put people in the position of having to choose between you and your ex. It's very selfish to expect people to take sides, so I would recommend that you not play that game. If you have been invited to a social event which your ex will be attending and you are not sure you are prepared to be around them, do not put the host on the spot to choose between the two of you. Either bow out gracefully and without a lot of ruckus or attend the event and be mature about it.

My boyfriend and I recently broke up. It was a very civil parting and we have been able to discuss and agree on a good number of solutions for any uncomfortable social situations. For example, if we are both going to be in the same place at the same time, we will let the other one know in advance if we are going to bring a date. The last thing either of us wanted was to have to watch the other slobbering all over some new toy immediatly after separating. We could comfortably agree to that, but if one of us didn't feel that we could it would be important to say so upfront. I don't think it's fair to ask someone not to bring a date with them to group events, but fair warning is, in my opinion, respectful and not terribly unreasonable.

Thus far we have both handled things very well and we have successfuly retained a very good friendship. That is, of course, the more desireable outcome to a breakup but I realize that sometimes it is just not possible. In that event it is best to treat the other person as you would any casual acquaintance. There is no reason to be rude or spiteful, no matter what the circumstances. So be polite and act your age, not your shoe size, as my dad always says. Even if your ex chooses to act like a total child, you do not have to reduce yourself to that sort of behavior. Retain your composure even if they attempt to bait you into an argument, especially in public. Conversations that should be private can be saved until it's appropriate.

What you choose to tell people about the circumstances of the break up is up to you. Just remember that honesty is the best policy. Campaigning against your ex to all your mutual friends will only serve to make everyone more uncomfortable. It might also be wise to just tell the truth before the old rumor mill gets going and turns your personal life into a mockery. You certainly do not need to broadcast the intimate details to the entire community, but you can certainly share your perception of events in a rational way.

When it came to my boyfriend and I, we just did not make a good romantic match in my opinion. We are at different places in life, wanting different things. Trying to pull each other in the directions we wished to go was leading to nothing but misery. That is my perception of events, and that's all I need to explain to anyone.

Entering into a poly relationship takes a lot of maturity, communication, and self examination. So does ending a poly relationship, whatever the configuration.

Nobody's Angel is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Nobody's Angel; November 01, 2006


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