In the immediate aftermath of my last breakup over one year ago, I was overflowing with feelings and words around my experiences, to the point where I was so suffocated by them that I felt like I could barely form a sentence. (Instead I managed to form many. I don’t know if I’ve ever spent as much time processing a breakup before. There just wasn’t as much to say about my past breakups. They were often mutual, ill-fitting, sometimes defined by a clumsy but normal mistake. I had to fight for this one, and I think that’s why the aftereffects lingered.) Nowadays I feel more tight-lipped about it, reticent to reflect too much lest it seem like a sign that I haven’t moved on, or else something which would exhaust others to keep hearing about. But there was a unique aspect to moving on from the breakup that I have never experienced before, something which I’d never read or heard about from friends or anyone else. After a recent conversation of a newly polyamorous friend I felt like it would help to put all of it into words.
Break-ups have a familiar pattern to them, narratives that we tell each other over and over again in literature, whether dumper or dumpee. You’re freed. You spend time mourning what was lost, processing everything that happened, and depending on your dedication to rom-com tropes you eat a lot of ice cream, then you reconnect with your friends and/or get a haircut and move on, sometimes to be single for a while, sometimes on to a new relationship.
Within polyamory, that model breaks down. The pattern is similar, but shifts beneath you in unforeseen ways. People warn you about jealousy in polyamory as if it was the only problem to ever navigate, the root of all sins, but there’s so much more to get your head around than that.
The lessons I learnt here are not cleanly laid out, but moving on is not a clean experience. It’s messy, and you just take what you can and run with it. Continue reading