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-   -   Handling a break-up respectfully (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17278)

SpringtimeMama 11-17-2011 09:31 PM

Handling a break-up respectfully
 
I think it's time to break up with my girlfriend, but since I haven't broken up with anyone since I was 19, I feel like I ought to handle it better than I did way back then. I was so bad at handling break-ups back then that it took me 5 tries to break up with a guy I'd never been particularly fond of!

A little background. DH and I have been married and mono for 12 years. This autumn a cute girl who he games with hit on him a *lot*. After rebuffing her a bunch, DH finally said (jokingly he thought) "Only if my wife is involved". What do you know? We ended up with an all-around satisfying threesome.

Over time the age/maturity gap has been feeling too wide for DH and I. GF is in her mid-twenties and lives like a young bachelor. We are in our mid-thirties, with a house, kid, responsibilities etc. I'm still happy with the sex, as is GF (I think), but I feel like sex is all we have. GF jumps DH every chance she has, and DH says she's a rather demanding, needy lover, so he's no longer thrilled with the sex. We have almost nothing in common. When she is at our home (which is pretty much the only place we are together -- we can't afford a frequent sitter) GF mostly acts like a guest and doesn't pitch in, doesn't even offer. On the other hand she takes and takes (laundry, sodas) without asking.

It's very frustrating. I know I need to set boundaries, but to what end? She could be a friend with benefits, but what is that if there's no friendship to start with?

When DH and I went into this we said that given the age difference we were going to follow the campsite rule and try to leave GF in as good or better shape as we found her. So I'm not comfortable with just saying "This isn't working. Here's why. Goodbye.". Especially since we see her in small group settings several times a month. The only salve to my conscience is that she has a new LDR who she is very excited about, so I'm not leaving her with no emotional support.

I searched all the tags for any permutation of "break-up", assuming that there would be poly guidelines for ending a relationship in the same way that I found do's and don't's for starting and maintaining one.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to end this relationship, or at least to move it back down to casual friendship, kindly and respectfully? GF has had a tumultuous year and I'd rather not add to the drama.

Thanks!

redpepper 11-17-2011 09:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SpringtimeMama (Post 111390)
the campsite rule and try to leave GF in as good or better shape as we found her.

I love that! :D I must try and remember that.

We don't have much here under the tag "break up" certainly not a list. Poly relationships don't really end any differently than other types of relationships. Mostly they just morph into something different.

You seem to be saying two things here. You want change and development of the emotional relationship along with setting some boundaries and that you want it to be done now. I'm confused, which is it?

If you want then this could be a thread about how to successfully break up. I want to be sure that is really what you want though.

SpringtimeMama 11-17-2011 10:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by redpepper (Post 111395)
You seem to be saying two things here. You want change and development of the emotional relationship along with setting some boundaries and that you want it to be done now. I'm confused, which is it?

Sorry for the confusion! I think what I was trying to say was that I ought to have set boundaries and rules long ago. We haven't brought up all the petty annoyances with her, and probably ought to have. I'm terrible about handling conflict and so is DH. Instead of talking to GF and setting up a situation where the established couple were ganging up on the new girlfriend we just grumbled to each other.

At this point I think it's time to cut our losses and break-up. There are just too many annoyances and not enough of an emotional connection.

I think what I'm asking for from you guys is ideas for how to break-up without drowning GF in petty complaints and ganging up on her.

Thanks!

AnnabelMore 11-18-2011 01:04 AM

I truly don't think there's anything wrong with saying "You're awesome but we're not really feeling connected and we think this isn't quite working for us." Breakups happen, I don't think they're really any different in poly than in mono, so you can probably find helpful resources just by doing a general web search. As long as you're kind about it, I certainly don't think you're violating the campsite rule.

I don't see much reason to give her a list of the problems if you truly have no intention of trying to make it work -- I think that would send a mixed message, like maybe she would think that if she just was a better guest it would all be ok. Maybe if you all stay friends, and she wants to talk about it further down the line, when there's more distance from the situation, you could dissect the disconnect then.

All that said, if the sex is great and no one is in emotional distress over anything and she's just a little inconsiderate, why *not* try to work on it before cutting her loose? You should feel absolutely no obligation to do so, but I'm just not sure why you wouldn't... not every connection needs to be a deep, romantic, forever-love (of course, your feelings may vary on that score, some folks truly don't like fwb's), and maybe she could really reform her habits and be a better friend if she understood what she was doing that was irksome.

nycindie 11-19-2011 06:45 AM

Hmm, "cutting your losses" to avoid any confrontation... seems like it should be easier than discussing the issues that bother you. Yet, even taking the supposedly easy way out is difficult for you. This is a good indicator of an area you might want to work on and hone your skills in your relationships (basically -- communicating). Why not use this as an opportunity to push those boundaries of yours and actually talk to her about the things that have bothered you? It doesn't have to be a confrontation, it can just be a conversation, or a request. You never know - she might also be uncomfortable with feeling like she is a taker, but doesn't know how to offer.

But if you really feel like you've let things slide too long and the only way out of the situation you created (by not speaking up) is to break it off, then I think simple and straightforward is the way to go. You don't need to go into a litany of problems just to tell someone you don't feel it's working for you anymore. Break-ups suck no matter how gentle, and so all you can do is be as nice and respectful as you can.

Magdlyn 11-19-2011 01:51 PM

I often date people much younger than me (more than 10 years, I'm 56). "Kids" in their 20s often need to be asked to do things around the house... and usually are happy to do so when asked, I have found.

If she's cool and fun in other ways, why not just ask her to help out with things? I mean, good sex can be hard to find.

OTOH, if you 2 just don't have enough in common with her friend-wise, then it might not be worth the hassle.

lifetake2 11-19-2011 03:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magdlyn (Post 111644)
I often date people much younger than me (more than 10 years, I'm 56). "Kids" in their 20s often need to be asked to do things around the house... and usually are happy to do so when asked, I have found.

From a non-relationship side I can confirm this is valid. A lot of time younger adults, especially now-days, really just need someone to lay out expectations.

I'm mid-30's but I'm shocked at how little motivation 20-somethings have without structure and expectations. Most do well when you define what you want.

Maybe try talking to her and helping her understand what you are feeling. Yes, may not be as easy as just breaking up.....but as was said already good sex is hard to find.

bassman 11-19-2011 04:28 PM

why not try a gentle nudge in the right direction - start with little things one by one.

"ah, honey, would you mind helping me with these dishes"

"Be a love and take out that trash for us"

"Could you help me with this load of washing - it just needs folding"

etc. etc, etc.

Slowly slowly ease her into taking on some of the roles that take up time around the house. Even if it leads to break up, she will be thankful one day.

Its worth a try, isnt it?

SpringtimeMama 11-19-2011 06:53 PM

Thank you all for the good advice. The three of us are going to sit down tonight and have a good long talk. It will be interesting to see where we end up.

SpringtimeMama 12-08-2011 04:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magdlyn (Post 111644)
If she's cool and fun in other ways, why not just ask her to help out with things? I mean, good sex can be hard to find.

OTOH, if you 2 just don't have enough in common with her friend-wise, then it might not be worth the hassle.

We sat down before Thanksgiving and had the big talk. We agreed that from an emotional stand-point it was right for us to break up, but no one wanted to give up our sexual connection. That felt weird but at the same time made us all happy.
Then Thanksgiving travel happened and we didn't see each other for over a week. While my husband and I were away, our girlfriend spent 5 days with her new girlfriend (an LDR, and the first time they'd had time together since getting together). She is totally over the moon and thrilled to find both an emotional and sexual connection with someone. Good for her!

Unfortunately for me that resulted in her having a talk with my husband last week after game where I think she said that she wouldn't be sleeping with either of us again. I wish she had talked to me as well, but it was late and I was already asleep. Ah well, as long as everyone is happy, healthy, and loved, that's what counts. I guess it counts as a successful and drama-free breakup.

Thanks for all your advice! It really helped to have it in my mind during that long night's break-up talk.


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