Both of my partners (an established couple) decided they could not handle poly and broke up with me at the same time. It was my first poly relationship. One of them is still in love with me, but says they cannot handle dating two people simultaneously because or mental illness. Do you have any advice? I’m devastated. My first instinct is just to try to help them.

I’m sorry that this happened to you - it’s fair to feel devastated in the wake of a breakup, and to want to do something to help solve the problem that caused it. But no matter how much you care about someone, you can’t do their thinking and feeling for them. 

Your exes have decided that what’s best for them is to return to a monogamous relationship. Whether you think they can be helped, or whether you agree that this is what’s best, is sadly irrelevant. Your devastation and desire to help them is understandable, but they didn’t ask for your help, so it will be difficult to give in a way that respects their agency.

Moving on from a breakup is hard, and it means different things to different people. Maybe you need to take some space. Maybe you need to re-establish friendships with these people on different terms. Maybe you need to have a drink with some other friends and watch a stupid movie or take a bubble bath with your favorite herbal tea. Don’t make yourself responsible for someone else’s healing, especially someone who didn’t ask - look after your own right now.

(A note for all my other readers: I get a lot of asks from established couples looking for thirds to join them, and I write a lot about how difficult it can be to join an established couple as a third party. This kind of situation is key to many people’s unwillingness to be a unicorn. Note that this is not a triad that split up; the third person was just pushed back out of their relationship with the couple. When looking for a third, be very honest with yourself and potential partners about whether you’re looking to form an equally committed triad, or whether you as a couple-unit want to date a third person while intending to keep the couple-unit intact, possibly at the expense of the third person.)