Breaking Up, Polyamory Style

Breaking Up, Polyamory Style

Figure 1 – The worst statistics are the correct statistics

I am by no means an expert on the topic of breaking up. But, since we’re hitting Prime Break-Up Season (note figure 1), I think poly break up styles should be addressed. I, being the lucky girl that I am, was able to get my business done early this year.

Mid-October marked a significant break up for me. My secondary partner, Kasher, and I broke up due to all sorts of silliness, none of it being poly-related drama. The cause? Well, mostly normal relationship drama; lifestyle differences, timing conflicts, and general wrong time/wrong place dilemmas. Now.. what is done is done. The break up and heartbreak has left me in a fairly reflective place and, the way I see it, there are two types of polyamorous break ups.

Type 1 – The Knock Down, Drag Out War

This type of break up seems to be experienced by the sort of poly people who probably shouldn’t be polyamorous. Common causes: Triads gone dyads, jealousy, deception, and all the average Joe and Josephine’s cheating patterns. I’ve seen this a lot in the poly community, actually. The results are usually pretty nasty. There are the Facebook status updates which range from pathetic to drunken to hostile. Entire non-monogamous Communities torn apart by people taking sides.. and often a loss in the belief in non-monogamous lifestyles.

Not too long ago, a very dear friend of mine lost his wife to a secondary partner wanting to become a primary partner. It happens. There were tons of reasons why the dynamic shifted; so and so wants kids, so and so is too busy, one partner using a new partner to fix existing relationships (which outwardly appear to be amazing and healthy relationships), etc. The reasons are not nearly as important as the result; a general fear amongst the community that it could happen to us, too. Many non-monogamous people vest a lot of time and energy into one solid above all else relationship. Witnessing that happen to a primaries makes you look at your own relationships and wonder if all your vows could withstand that sort of testing.

This sort of drama is not saved for primary couplings alone. Quads and triads, secondaries and singles.. They all have their shot at the nasty Knock Down, Drag Out war. Luckily, this isn’t the type of break up I am experiencing with Kasher. I am in the midst of a type two poly break-up

Type Two: Love is not Enough

Breaking Up, Polyamory Style

Figure 2 – credit:

And so it comes to pass that under the test of time and trials.. Love is not enough. This is a truth that goes beyond polyamory and nonmonogamy, but seems to be more obvious in polyamory due to the fact that love isn’t thought of as a finite one-recipient only emotion.

When monogamous people experience the dissolution of relationships, they often note that they ‘fell out of love’, or that they fell in love with someone new, therefore cancelling previous love. Those monogamous people who are dumped are left heartbroken, believing that they have lost the ‘only one’ for them. They spend all of their recuperation time convincing the love they had wasn’t real love, and that there is some better, more worthy love waiting for them out there.

Polyamorous people know that this is nonsense. The truth is that relationships take a lot of different resources to be sustainable, not just love. You need proper timing, you need all parties to be on some sort of symbiotic developmental/maturity/lifecycle phase, you need time and energy and Kreplits, you need money and transportation and logistics. You need some really fucking unromantic things to pull off a sustainable relationship. And even if you don’t have those other resources.. That doesn’t diminish the love that you are basing the entire venture upon.

Poly people find themselves with a very large struggle.. There is no lack of love or want that keeps them out of certain relationships. But that doesn’t mean that they should stay in these relationships, either. A lot of genuinely loving relationships can end up being disruptive to the people within those partnerships when those other resources are lacking. And let’s not get into how disruptive they can be for the people around them. That is when the logic wins over love.

This is the hardest part of being polyamorous; knowing that the love doesn’t go away when the relationship does. The cruel hope; optimism leaves you wishing on your favorite star for the missing resources to show up.

Luckily, one of those resources is patience.


About Author

Shira B. Katz is a co-host of the Life on the Swingset podcast, bringing a pansexual and polyamorous viewpoint to the show. Shira also hosts Pedestrian Polyamory, a podcast on the Swingset network that focuses on polyamory and all of it's glorious (and not so glorious) features. When not writing articles, podcasting, or otherwise extolling the virtues of polyamory, Shira can be found in the wild getting crushes on nerds, lusting after boykisses, and fussing about in the San Francisco Bay area. To learn more about Shira B. Katz follow her on Twitter