Polyamory.com Forum

Polyamory.com Forum (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/index.php)
-   General Poly Discussions (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=2)
-   -   The gift of owning up after breaking up (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35759)

AggieSez 12-25-2012 07:32 PM

The gift of owning up after breaking up
 
One of the best aspects of polyamory is that just because an intimate relationship ends or changes doesn't mean you need to eliminate that former partner from your life -- something that's sadly the social default setting in mono-land.

Setting up a positive "aftership" often requires some reconciliation and healing. But we don't have a lot of good examples of that for any kind of relationship. One such example crossed my inbox, so I've decided to share it.

Recently, a SoloPoly.net reader contacted me to share how my recent post on how to treat non-primary partners well (and my related Polyamory Weekly interview) helped him understand how his unacknowledged, unexamined couple privilege played a key role in the demise of his treasured triad relationship, causing much heartache for him, his wife, and their former girlfriend.

He also decided to contact their former partner to own up to this. He'd like a positive post-breakup connection with her, and hopefully this step will help the healing process -- but at least, owning up to your behavior can aid your own process of moving on and ease your conscience. IMHO, that's Adult Relationships 101.

So, in the holiday spirit, I just posted to SoloPoly.net a guest post with this reader's letter, plus some context and commentary. Because owning up to your behavior in a relationship can offer the gift of healing and understanding for everyone.

http://solopoly.net/2012/12/24/the-g...up-guest-post/

Hope everyone's enjoying the holidays!

- Aggie

SchrodingersCat 12-26-2012 05:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AggieSez (Post 173896)
One of the best aspects of polyamory is that just because an intimate relationship ends or changes doesn't mean you need to eliminate that former partner from your life -- something that's sadly the social default setting in mono-land.

Hmm... I don't see things that way, in either direction. I've known plenty of monos who stay friends with ex-lovers. And I'm a poly who does not. Personally, when a romance ends, I need some time away from that person to regroup. Usually by the time I've healed from the loss of romance, we've both moved on and there isn't a lot of room for friendship.

nycindie 12-26-2012 06:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AggieSez (Post 173896)
One of the best aspects of polyamory is that just because an intimate relationship ends or changes doesn't mean you need to eliminate that former partner from your life -- something that's sadly the social default setting in mono-land.

Setting up a positive "aftership" often requires some reconciliation and healing. But we don't have a lot of good examples of that for any kind of relationship.

I disagree with this as well. I've practiced monogamy most of my life and have maintained friendships with quite a few of my exes. I don't think the "social default" in monogamy is to eliminate every ex from one's life or villify them. Sure, a cooling-off period if the breakup was painful, but plenty of monos still remain close with their exes and get over any animosity that was there before the breakup. I've gone to weddings of exes, hung out with them in all kinds of situations, to the point where it's even sort of been forgotten that we were ever involved that way. Gee, and all that before I embraced practicing poly. I've met many mono people who have been open-minded and welcoming to the idea of former lovers remaining in their lives in a variety of ways.

It sounds like you are saying polyamorists are more evolved or mature about relationships than monogamists are, and I don't see that as necessarily true based only upon the fact that someone is poly. I can't stand that kind of holier-than-thou attitude about poly. It depends upon the individuals.

"Aftership" - ugh, just what is wrong with calling it a "friendship?"

opalescent 12-26-2012 01:01 PM

I read the OP as suggesting that broadly speaking, when a monogamous relationship ends, the social expectation is that the ex-partners don't have much to do with each other. (An exception is co-parenting of course.) It is surprising to many that one would stay in contact with an ex, much less be friendly or retain a deep connection. For instance, Beaker's sister was quite surprised that we still talk regularly. It's been my experience that this is a common attitude. And people don't follow the broad social expectation in their own lives, but that expectation is still around.

I also think this is another in the OP's quest to get folks to be more conscious about their relationships. After all if you've taken the time and made the effort to be polyamorous, then there is the opportunity to examine old ideas and keep or jettison as you see fit. It's not that poly is more evolved but that it can open the door to looking at and re-examining social programming and assumptions. Of course mono folks can do this too. Poly is not required for this examination and weighing of social mores. But it's been my experience that people who move outside the mainstream in whatever way are more likely to do this self work than folks who are more mainstream. There is nothing wrong with being more mainstream but it is a place of privilege - and one of those privileges is not having to think about social mores if one doesn't want to.

AggieSez 12-26-2012 01:30 PM

Yes, Opalescent nailed it. By referring to the social default, I was indeed referring to the surprise that people (mono or otherwise) typically express upon learning that someone (mono or otherwise) is still friends with an ex partner or lover. Even though we all know people who have positive "afterships."

(LOL, NYCindie, I understand you hate that word. I just don't think that "friendship" adequately describes the range of post love/partner relationships I've seen. And here, what I'm discussing refers to a specific type of connection dynamic. It's got its own issues, which are the subject of my post. YMMV :-)

I'm not saying polyamory is more "evolved" -- but as Opalescent notes, anytime you step out of the mainstream, questioning or ceasing to follow the standard social script, that's when you seriously start to learn more about relationships.

I'm friends with some exes, not with others. The pattern I've noticed in my own post-lover/partner relationships (and those of many other people I've discussed this with) is that where we've each acknowledged to the other how we behaved, what our true priorities were, and why, that's a big part of a strong foundation for continuing friendship -- or at least a truly amicable parting of the ways.

Anneintherain 12-28-2012 08:47 AM

I think part of the reason my ex husband and I are so great 8 years later is that though the relationship ended due to deal breakers on his end, I owned up to things I had done that made it clear I wasn't perfect, instead of trying to act as if a relationship ended one sided.

I also wanted to mention I appreciate the discussion of K's issue - it made me realize that although I have been openly open :rolleyes: with my comfort with the idea of cohabitation with co-primaries (mine, not my husbands, his might want to have input on interior design....) my husband's lack of interest in living with another partner is an important factor in what I can offer somebody - as what I want and what I will actually offer are different. Not that I think I'd ever be unclear with anybody, but it sure is important to have clarity about these things.

Becca 12-30-2012 01:40 AM

I have always maintained strong relationships with (most of) my ex-girlfriends, but that's actually the norm for lesbians (mono or poly). My ex-girlfriends are my family.

I always thought that ditching your ex's was more of a hetero thing, rather than mono vs poly.

nycindie 12-30-2012 03:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Becca (Post 174691)
I always thought that ditching your ex's was more of a hetero thing . . .

This made me LOL. I find it rather amusing to read all the pre-conceived notions we have about relationships - yet they are so different from each other. Obviously, no blanket assumptions can be made about who stays connected with exes, whether someone is straight, gay, bi, pan, mono, poly, or whatever... it depends on the individual!

NovemberRain 12-30-2012 06:05 AM

The world is such a small place really. I was reading this thread, and then went to my fb, and someone had posted this related article:

http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/2...ng-end-of.html

(In turn, I'm posting Aggie's article there...) ;)


All times are GMT. The time now is 09:23 AM.