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-   -   Why do people "Break up" (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1802)

MonoVCPHG 12-22-2009 05:14 AM

Why do people "Break up"
Lately some of the people in our community have been ending some of their relationships for various reasons. I found myself having a problem with the choice of words being used to describe the change in their relationships.

They refer to it as “breaking up”. This is a very common phrase used by most people to announce the end of a romantic/intimate relationship.
For some reason this is really starting to bother me. It is as if the term “breaking up” refers to a complete stop in the relationship.

I like to believe that all relationships regardless of their nature consist of many layers and levels of connection. I also believe that they have many ways of communicating based on the depth of those relationships. I find it disturbing to label the change in communicative depth of a relationship to be deemed as breaking up. Just because you are no longer expressing your connection or love in a certain way (usually sexually in the type of relationships I am referring to) I don’t see it as “breaking” something but reshaping the manner in which it is expressed; the emphasis is removed from one depth or layer but remains in others. The entire relationship is not lost. The relationship has merely been reshaped to incorporate a healthy way for the participants to enjoy each other.
To say that removing one aspect of a relationship ends it is a sad concept to me. It is too limited and does not recognize the remaining value.

I would rather have a happy and healthy connection on a few levels than struggle to maintain a relationship on all levels or one in particular. I personally feel it is important to take joy and a sense of fulfillment from what is natural and un-forced in a relationship. Trying to maintain or obtain other layers would be draining and ultimately lead to a complete break down of the relationship and therefore might actually result in a “break up”.

That’s my vent for the day :o

Peace and Love

crisare 12-22-2009 05:53 AM


The entire relationship is not lost. The relationship has merely been reshaped to incorporate a healthy way for the participants to enjoy each other in a healthy way.
But sometimes the entire relationship *is* lost. Sometimes the hurt/anger/betrayal/whatever is so deep that there isn't a way to reshape the relationship - at least not at first and maybe not ever.

And when that happens, there is (at least speaking personally) a very deep sense of something being broken. Something being damaged. Just like a pretty vase gets broken: Maybe you can glue it back together and get some resemblence of the original, but what exists now is not what was. What was, was broken and can't be restored.

I dunno. To me "break up" is pretty accurate in describing the state and the pain felt, in most cases.

MonoVCPHG 12-22-2009 06:00 AM


Originally Posted by crisare (Post 16583)

I dunno. To me "break up" is pretty accurate in describing the state and the pain felt, in most cases.

I don't deny that this happens. I think it is the lead up to the break down that causes it to be so catastrophic. If both partners are honest in the relationship at each step then maybe the positives could be salvaged. I see this in another mono/poly couple I know. They recognize that their relationship will come to an end at some point as the boundaries become to mutually too restrictive. They have agreed to take the most from their relationship and reshape it before it ends in resentment. There will still be pain but they will focus on what is real, healthy and possible. I find them very strong and positive in this approach.

If there is a breakdown in trust I totally see your point. I've been there myself.

I agree with you but am disheartened by it just the same

GroundedSpirit 12-22-2009 01:48 PM

Hey Mono,

Yea, although the term if taken literally has a lot of negativity, I suspect it's more pointed to you because you are taking it quite literally. It's likely just a language thing. It's a common term used - especially in the "dating" world, I think to basically mean "an end to the way things have been". It doesn't define how they HAVE been nor does it define what they will be in the future. It's totally open ended and will end up in a unique situation based on the people & circumstances involved.
Lots of other terms have been substituted for it - "parting of ways", "moving on" etc. It's all just cultural slang.


Quath 12-22-2009 02:30 PM

I like to think that relationships transform over time. I think it gets to the "breaking" point once a relationship is forced too far down a path that goes against the real desires of the people. A big example is people who stay married even though they are growing further and further apart. If they end it early, they have a good chance to remain friends. If they stay together too long, they could learn to hate each other.

MonoVCPHG 12-22-2009 02:58 PM

Very good point about the cultural slang, GS.
I think I am focussing on relationships that end due to factors Quath describes. The relationship deteriorating to the point where the people resent each other before recognizing a divergence in paths.

Thanks for the feedback gentlemen :)

Ceoli 12-22-2009 03:31 PM

Breaking up can often prevent those resentments from building. If a person's continued presence in your life is hurtful or toxic, then it's time time to let that presence go. I've only truly "broken up" with two people I've had relationships with. One was the female half of the couple I was dating because I really didn't feel like continuing to dance around her insecurity. The other was a guy that I dated where we remained friends for a long time. However he cut things off when he started dating another girl because he felt the unresolved feelings between us were going to be hurtful to his new relationship. In both cases, there were still positives to be had because it makes it clearer to me what my needs are and how to recognize when they are or aren't being met in a relationship. And it helps me to learn how to ask for what I need more instead of editing myself to preserve a relationship or specific relationship structure over my needs.

I've loved the fact that other people I've dated but stopped dating for whatever reason are still part of my life in loving positive ways. I had a couple of friends that were in a primary relationship together, living together and sharing finances etc...they were having a hard time and were getting more and more unhappy in their relationship. Instead of breaking up, they got their own places and transitioned their relationship to a more secondary style one. They are both still happily together with other primaries now. It was great to see that they were willing to let their relationship be what it needed to be rather than force it into something it wasn't.

Either way, resentment and breakdowns only happen if the people in the relationship let it happen, whether by not recognizing the changing needs, or by disregarding them.

LovingRadiance 12-22-2009 08:32 PM

I understand what you are saying.
I am still amazed that I run into people who are amazed that I am friends with all of my exboyfriends/exgirlfriends.

The last one before I got married-we had a deal when we got together we agreed that we would be together until being together as a couple was no longer having a positive experience on one or the other of us.

So when it became evident that I was moving forward in life and he wasn't-I just said I was moving out-and that was that. We remained friends, he met maca and built a friendship with him as well. That's just the way it has been for me.

Maca on the other hand has never retained a relationship with an ex. He's always been of the understanding that if the romantic relationship fails then the whole relationship is terminated completely and permanently.

Personally I like to handle all of my relationships (romantic or otherwise) by taking into consideration the needs/desires of the relationship itself. There is a natural ebb and flow to all relationships. My three closest friendships (31 yrs, 20 yrs, 17yrs in length) have all gone through moments times we were REALLY REALLY close and times where we were pretty distant as well.

Its just the nature of relationships. (imho)

CielDuMatin 12-23-2009 01:32 AM

A term that I have adopted to describe an alternate to the "all-or-nothing" approach to a relationship ending is that of distancing. You may recognise that while you love each other, and are friends, you are just not relationship material. Why throw the whole thing away, therefore, when there was a perfectly good friendship there?

Instead you both agree to distancing - essentially trying to keep the friendship but not being quite so "close".

MonoVCPHG 12-23-2009 02:11 AM


Originally Posted by CielDuMatin (Post 16647)

Instead you both agree to distancing - essentially trying to keep the friendship but not being quite so "close".

That is a much better way of putting it for sure in my mind. I tend to use the term "reshaping".

Thanks for all the comments from all, good points from everyone.

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