My partner and I broke up a number of months ago. We were in a poly relationship. He had one quite substantial ldr, and was dating a few others. I only very occasionally dated other people, and nothing substantial, mainly as a result of just not meeting the right people. I always felt compared to his other partner, who was always his priority, and I’ve walked away feeling like I was never enough. I felt like they got all of the fun dates, and I got his weekday stress. How do I unpack that?

While I acknowledge that it’s always good to process and heal from the past, I also want to take the chance to expand on your metaphor a bit. Why are you still “unpacking” baggage from a relationship that’s over? It sounds like he wasn’t healthy for you - he made you feel deprioritized and inadequate and he didn’t appear to value your time spent together. That’s not a suitcase worth unpacking. Just throw the whole thing in the ocean. Leave it at the airport. Go buy another empty suitcase and pack it with delightful things.

You may be feeling angry and let down by this partner. That’s okay. Let yourself be mad. Don’t hang onto bitterness and let it poison you for other relationships, but know that it’s okay to feel hurt after someone hurt you. You may have some self-work to do to remind yourself that someone treating you like you’re not valued doesn’t mean you’re not valuable. His problems are his problems, and they don’t reflect on you or your ability to find a loving, attentive partner.

And try not to let this tarnish other poly people or poly arrangements for you, either. Your partner was crap at polyamory, which is sadly all too common - although many people are also crap at monogamy, so it’s less a reflection on the relationship styles and more a reflection on how poorly we’re socialized to be in healthy relationships. If you want to try poly again, go ahead, knowing that you’ve gotten a good education in what to avoid. If you want to steer clear of poly in the future because of your bad experience, that’s fine too.

If you still feel yourself dwelling on the negativity from this relationship, feeling it affect your self esteem, or preventing you from building other healthy relationships, try visiting a poly-friendly therapist to talk some of these things out. And remember that a few months is still a pretty short amount of time to feel totally recovered from a nasty breakup, and you may feel that suitcase getting lighter over time without you having to do much significant unpacking. Junk has a way of falling out on its own, especially as you find better stuff to put in.