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Saturday, September 17, 2011

The end is near!

At a poly meeting recently I was asked an interesting question; "How do you end a poly relationship?"

My initial response to this question was that you end it just like you do any other relationship. My second thought was; "Why do you have to end a relationship?" You might end the sexual aspect, the romantic aspect. You may even withdraw some from the friendship side of things but, do you really need to place a definitive end on a relationship?

I think the last part there is more of a belief of mine rather than an answer to the question. So let's give it a shot . . .

How do you end a poly relationship?

With a single partner I think the question is a bit elementary. Truly the relationship can probably be ended like a monogamous or any other relationship. Thanks, I'm done, have a nice day.

It is more likely that the person asking the question was imagining a situation with multiple partners who are involved with each other on some level. Maybe a quad or triad configuration.

That does tend to add some complexity to the problem. Think about a quad design and what might happen if two of the people in the quad, who had been dating, decided to end their relationship. What impact would that have on the rest of the group? Would the remaining members continue to date? Could they? Could you continue dating other people in the group? What if the quad consisted of a pair of couples? Would you have to stop dating the couple or just one person?

I think the difficulty in answering this question hinges on what it is the person actually needs. What are they feeling that is making them want to end a relationship and is that relationship part of a bigger design? In the quad example breaking up with one person because you are incompatible may allow for the rest of the quad to remain intact. On the other hand, if the problem is with the other couple it could mean the end of the quad.

A Triad configuration while easier on paper probably presents just as many problems. One relationship ending would result in the Triad becoming a Vee. Assuming the hinge person is still happy dating the other two, and the other two are okay with that, continuing as a Vee would likely be possible.

With any configuration there is the possibility, and ability, for a breakup. Although I think the question "How do you end a poly relationship?" is valid I think it is also unanswerable. Poly or mono really only adds to the logistics of the breakup. How the breakup takes place, as mentioned before, really depends on what a person needs. If there is anger or abuse the breakup will take one form, while people simply growing apart will take on a different form. Emotional needs (in my opinion) will probably have much more of an impact on how a breakup is managed than the actual relationship design.


  1. I can't imagine any set pattern to follow for a breakup, of any kind.

    After ours, I feel I do have a better handle on what I won't enter relationship wise. After always feeling like I could have the rug pulled out from under me, I don't see myself in another relationship where someone has complete veto power again. Where one individual has control over all the relationships.

    We were a cross coupled quad with the other wife stating if it didn't work between any of us then it didn't work between all of us. Now, granted I didn't go into it that way. She only stated this after NRE for her and my husband was wearing off and it was just starting for her husband and I.

    I will not have either my husband or I stay with someone that makes either of us unhappy again so that the other can continue to be in a relationship that makes them happy.

    But knowing all this, the breakup was still a hard thing. Not just in terms of getting over. It how to proceed.

  2. Thanks for another interesting comment Lovingmorethanone!

    I agree with you that there is no set pattern for a breakup, regardless of the relationship design.

    Your story brings a lot of thoughts to mind. I think I would have had a problem with the other wife's statement about it working for everybody or nobody. Although I can, and have, been involved in group relationships I believe there are also one-on-one relationships within those same configurations. To make a statement like she did, in my mind, makes a rule for everyone involved but didn't give them a vote in that decision.

    At the same time your statement about not having you or your husband stay in a relationship that makes either of you unhappy seems similar to the other wife's statement. In my relationships I won't "veto" or otherwise forbid my partner having another partner, even if I don't like the person. I may not want to spend time with their OSO, or I may decline group events and such, but I wouldn't ask them to end the relationship just because of my feelings for that person. Mainly because I'm not the one having the relationship. At the same time, I agree with you that if another partner is literally making me unhappy (through direct action) I wouldn't sit still for it. I would expect that to be a situation my partner should correct. And if they didn't, I would question the commitment to our relationship by my partner rather than their OSO. After all, they would be the hinge in the Vee (in this scenario) and should step up to take ownership if there is a problem that severe.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. I wasn't clear I do not believe. I wasn't trying to veto my husband being in a relationship.

    I feel he stayed in one he wasn't happy with longer than he would have if she hadn't made that rule. In order for me to stay in one with my BF I feel that my husband stayed in one with her longer than he would have otherwise. I don't ever want that to happen again.

    While I hope to like each person he is involved with, I know that there will be some I get along with better than others. I don't have to spend time with any of them. I am taking that away from our breakup as well.

  4. Lovingmorethanone,

    Thanks for clarifying! You are right, I did misunderstand what you were saying. My apologies. I think we are on the same page and you are absolutely right!