I was dumped by a polygroup a few months ago, and it still hurts

My polygroup dumped me - like they're all dating and I'm just out of the picture. It was at least a couple months ago and I don't even see them in person like at all anymore but I'm still hurting. I want to be over it, but for some reason I find myself still getting sad and angry when I see reminders of them.

Friend, this is entirely normal! Getting dumped by one person is miserable enough - getting dumped by an entire group is going to hurt like nobody's business. You have my deepest sympathies.

This is not really a problem with a solution besides "wait it out." You're already doing the right things by not seeing them in person and trying not to wallow in the sadness, but a few months is NOT much time to get over such a painful breakup!

Be patient and gentle with yourself. Give yourself grace and tenderness when you're sad and angry. Nothing is wrong with you for feeling this way. It's not that you're sad and angry "for some reason" - you're sad and angry because a really sad, maddening thing happened to you! It's okay, and you're okay.

Find distractions - whether it's rearranging your hamster's cage or getting back into playing The Sims or hitting a local concert or foraging for mushrooms. Reach out to friends who are not connected to that group of people. Indulge in some comforts. Consider talking to a therapist or an informal support/venting chat or forum. And know that you will get through this. 

I've realized that my polyamory is a dealbreaker and I need to leave my 5-year mono relationship

I have been in a monogamous lesbian relationship with my girlfriend for 5 years, when about a year and a half ago, I realized that I am both bi + poly. I did a lot of research + soul searching, and then 8 months ago I told her how I was feeling. It didn't go well, we swept it under the rug and I've tried very hard just to sit on these feelings. I realized now that for me, it's my identity and likely a deal breaker: how do I have this conversation again, knowing it will end in a breakup?

If you know it will end in a breakup, there's not much else to be done, or scripted, or strategized. It's heartbreaking and painful to end a 5 year relationship, but it's understandable, and normal, to have to do so after learning about a dealbreaker.

You let her know that you've tried monogamy with her, and you've tried to 'sit on' these feelings, and now you have 8 months worth of information about how it feels and whether it's working for her. You explain that, unfortunately, you've realized this is a dealbreaker, and so you need to break the deal, and leave the relationship. This conversation will suck - breakups always do. But it's important and necessary.

Try not to frame it as "you wouldn't let me date polyamorously, so I have to leave - this is your fault." It's no one's fault, it's just how the universe has shaken out. You two were good together for five years, and nothing can change or erase that, but you're not good to continue dating into the future. Give her the space she needs to grieve, and rage. Best of luck. 

My partner chose a monogamous relationship over staying with me

I was with this really amazing girl - the love of my life, and she and I are both poly. But her main wasn't. Her main said that she wasn't comfortable anymore with the fact her girlfriend was dating other people. I thought that maybe I would be chosen. That she could love me more. And we could live our lifestyle together. But no. They're getting married next month. I still love her so much. I want so much to be a part of her life. I could even deal with her partner not liking me. I just need her.

It's okay to grieve the end of this relationship, but there's nothing else to be done - I am sorry to be the one to tell you that. Sometimes this happens, not only to polyamorous people, but to monogamous people as well. A partner who you love chooses their work, or the freedom of singlehood, or another partner, or something else, over their relationship with you.

And it hurts. It really does. But you will survive. It feels like you 'need' her, but you don't 'need' her like you need air in your lungs or food in your belly, even if the loss of her does feel like drowning or starving. You will get through this. It's okay to mourn, to be angry, to feel hurt. Breakups suck. Loss is painful. 

Do whatever you need to do to feel okay: Consider seeing a therapist who specializes in grief at the end of relationships. Eat a bunch of ice cream. Join an online dating site. Go for a long bike ride. Have some drinks with your friends. Block your ex on all social media so you don't see any wedding nonsense. Pet a dog. Go camping. Write a letter to your ex and then burn it. You'll get through this, I promise.

Someone I was dating stopped speaking to me after one of her other partners decided he didn't like me

At the beginning of the year i met a wonderful poly woman online who is married and has other partners. we met in person (we are many states away) and i think we really hit it off and her family was totally welcoming and i felt super at home. As soon as i got back she confessed one of her boyfriends had some issue with me and told her to stop talking to me. so she did. I am hearing from our mutual internet friends that she seems very depressed and is kind of isolating herself. I think he is showing some abusive behavior, and have thought that for some time, but she's blocked me everywhere. What do you think I should do? is there anything I can do from this far away when none of our friends are willing to talk to her?

If she has blocked you everywhere, then that’s a pretty clear boundary that she has set. You can think that this boundary is unreasonable, or that she set it for reasons that are unhealthy, but right now, she has made the decision to stop speaking to you, and there’s not much that you can do about that. And if your mutual friends are unwilling to have this conversation, there’s not much you can or should do to try and push them into being an intermediary in a situation they don’t want to be a part of.

It is so, so painful to know that someone you care about is out there in a bad situation, or making bad choices, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It feels agonizingly frustrating and helpless. I know. But sometimes that’s the place we find ourselves in. It’s okay to feel angry or sad at how things worked out, through no fault of yours, to be painful for you.

She may be in an abusive situation; or she may simply be in a relationship that isn’t compatible with her seeing you - either way, she has decided to end contact with you, and your mutual friends have decided that this isn’t a safe, healthy, or worthwhile situation to try and step into. It sounds like the best thing you can do is try to let go. You don’t have the ability or obligation to ‘save’ her; nor do you have the right to change her mind even if you think the choice she’s made is unfair or unhealthy. 

I found out an ex of mine has changed his tune about being polyamorous

I was in a relationship with a poly man for 3 yrs and was open to polyamory. I had a hard time because he was constantly gas lighting me. He felt strongly against monogamy and would break agreements/boundaries that I needed to feel safe. I finally cut him off 2 months ago after he tried to pull me back into dating him. Recently I started having ptsd and I contacted him & he told me that he has a new gf and has realized he is monogamous and was never poly. I feel very confused and hurt and angry.

PTSD is a serious mental illness, and people with PTSD need and deserve treatment. If your relationship with this man left you with trauma, the solution is to work with a mental healthcare professional, not to try and re-open those wounds by contacting him.

If you were able to rationalize his mistreatment of you as “oh, he’s polyamorous, so he has to act like this, he can’t help it,” but suddenly he’s identifying as monogamous, you now have to face the realization that he was just acting badly, without that salve of a pseudo-rationale. That’s painful. It’s possible he’s saying this to you because he knows it will be painful for you. But do NOT let it re-frame his behavior as something that you “deserved” or somehow brought on yourself. He was a jerk to you and treated you poorly, and whatever excuse or explanation he had at the time doesn’t really change that fact.

This guy sounds like he was, and still is, unsafe for you. Stop contacting him - you don’t need him to make sense, or apologize, in order for you to heal and move on. He can be out there in the world being wrong, and being someone who wronged you. Let that be the truth. He lied to you, he mistreated you, he strung you along - he’s the bad guy. The rest doesn’t really matter. Find someone to work with on the PTSD and let yourself move forward, not back.

I was with my ex for almost three years, he was my everything. He was my only friend. We would always fight over who I talked to( as in guys). He was also very controlling. I honestly wanted us to last. But the accusations weren’t worth it anymore. So I gave up. I dumped him and blocked him. He’s met someone else and I can’t seem to stop checking his social media to see what he’s been up to. Do you think I really loved him or that it just hurts that he’s moved on?

That sounds like an unhealthy relationship, and you did the right thing by leaving it. But few things in life are 100% black-and-white. Having feelings of sadness and pain after a breakup is NOT evidence that a breakup was the wrong choice. 

Stop checking his social media - block him even harder if that’s possible, enlist a friend to help you break this habit, take a social media fast - and give yourself the time it will take to heal from this. It’s okay to have complicated feelings, it’s okay to need time to feel better. Focus on what makes you happy right now.

What do I do when me and a partner break up but my main partner still wants to date them?

That really depends on the specifics of the situation. If all three of you were in a triad, where there’s a single central relationship that bonds you three, then it sounds like that bond has been broken.

But, if you’re in a situation where the dating relationships look like: Adam&Ben, Adam&Carl, and Ben&Carl, then if Adam&Ben break up, then Adam&Carl and Ben&Carl can still continue to date. If Adam & Carl & Ben frequently hang out as a unit of three, that dynamic will necessarily change after a breakup, but the pair relationships don’t need to be all mutually reliant.

Of course, that assumes that the breakup between Adam&Ben was mutual and gentle. If there is drama such that Carl is put off by Adam’s behavior during the breakup, Carl and Adam’s relationship will be affected. 

It really depends on your situation. If you and someone broke up, but your other partner still wants to date that person, that might be totally sustainable with some time to cool down and some re-drawn boundaries. If you feel really uncomfortable with it, let your partner know, and talk to them about how to proceed.

On the one hand, it can feel unfair if someone’s relationship is impacted by an interpersonal situation between two other people that they have no part of or control over. On the other hand, some arrangements are just unsustainable, and if your partner decides that they no longer want to date your ex because they are your ex, that’s your partner’s prerogative. 

My boyfriend dumped me last week. We had been together for 8 months. He took my virginity. I found out his ex moved back in with him not even a week later. I don’t know how to deal with this, and I don’t know how to let him go. He broke up with me over text and cut me out of his life completely. I can’t seem to do that, I still care. I still care about him. I don’t know how to stop. He keeps posting depressing stuff off his social media, and I feel bad. Why do I care if he doesn’t care about me?

First off, stop looking at his social media. Block him, unfriend him, do what you have to to make that happen.

Being dumped sucks. It hurts. It hurts bad. There’s no way around that. The only way out is through. It’s only been a week, so of course the wound is fresh and unbearable. But time will heal this, I promise.

You don’t need to “know how to stop” caring about him. Feelings are pesky and tricky in that they don’t change form even if you try really hard to change them. You can’t brute-force yourself into feeling better right away. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself be angry. Someone else hurt you. It’s okay to feel whatever you need to feel about that.

Take care of yourself. Find distractions. Do what feels good. See a fun movie. Go out with friends. Eat ice cream. Let yourself cry. Pet a dog. Take long showers. Follow a bunch of new tumblrs. Find ways to make it through the days, and slowly this painful episode will fade farther and farther back into the past.

You can do this! It will be okay, I promise.

So I was cheated on and when I confronted him about it he said “I thought you knew”. Of course I broke up with him and it’s staying that way. There’s just one problem. He’s in my club that comes over to my house once every week. I haven’t made a fuss over it or complained about it but I’m emotionally confused about what I’m supposed to do. P.S. he’s my first kiss

It’s very okay to feel emotionally confused when you have to see your ex at your house once a week! There is nothing you are “supposed” to do - besides do what is best and healthiest for you.

If you feel up to it, there is nothing wrong with just keeping a cool distance from him, being polite and civil but focusing your energy on anything or anyone else. It can be a really powerful feeling to know that you are Being The Grownup and Taking The High Road, if that’s how you can frame it. If he tries to use the club meetings to “win you back” or jockey for your attention, tell him once that he needs to give you space, and if he continues, let him know that he’s not welcome at your house anymore.

But you are not obligated to even try being around him! And if this club is small enough or does something emotionally intimate, like discussion groups or improv or anything else that makes it uncomfortable to do with the ex who cheated on you, it might not be feasible.

Since he is the person who let you down and torpedoed the relationship, he should have been gracious enough to offer to bow out of the club. But he didn’t, so, boo on him. You would be well within your rights to ask him, privately, “hey, since we aren’t together anymore, and since our breakup was really painful for me, I think it would be best if you stopped coming to club meetings at my house.”

Now, there’s always the potential that he could decide to blow this up into some drama, try and insist that he has every right to be there, try and get people on his side, etc. The key is that you do not engage. Do not participate in, or escalate, any of the drama. Simply go about your club-hosting duties, don’t gossip or vent to anyone else in the club about him, and let everyone see you being your best self.

You will get over this jerk, I promise! It will be annoying to have to keep seeing him because of this club, but just know your boundaries, set them clearly, and hold others to them. 

one of my partners and I broke up a little while ago. I feel like she is doing so much better at finding happiness especially with herself while I have had like 2 good days in about 2 months. Am I weird for taking so much time and still struggling?

Two months is not a long time to get over a breakup, so don’t beat yourself up for still feeling down. There is no “weird” or “normal” way to grieve the loss of a relationship. 

Remember that “we see other people’s Highlight Reels, but we see our own Behind the Scenes.” Especially if you’re getting this information mostly through social media or what she chooses to put out there, you are definitely not getting the whole picture. People do a good job of sending the message that “I am so happy with my life and myself!!!” when they are in control of what gets shared. Here is a powerful article about this (tw suicide mention). So don’t compare your day-to-day, internal struggles with the momentary victories she chooses to share.

It may also be true that she is having an easier time finding joy and confidence after the breakup than you. That’s also okay! People are different. Instead of feeling like you’re “failing” in comparison to her, try to focus on yourself instead. Are you better now than you were two months ago? Some things to try:

  • Focus on your own mental health first! Consider looking for and working through resources on getting over a breakup or increasing satisfaction with life 
  • Visit with a therapist, counselor, or life coach about finding happiness with yourself
  • Start a gratitude journal where you list 3 things daily that made you thankful or joyful (this sounds so cheesy but it really works)
  • Do something just for you! anything from a fancy shower wash to a mental health day off work to watching TV with your favorite snack
  • Reach out to your support network of friends and family to let them know you’re struggling and ask for help
  • Unfollow her on social media or otherwise limit your exposure to the information about her life that’s driving these feelings

You will get through this, I promise! Sometimes things just feel bad. It sucks, but it’s part of being a person who has relationships and feelings and life. 

My partner and I were in a relationship with another couple. But things got awkward and we split up. Even though it was months ago i still miss them. Some days it hurts so much. Will i ever get over it?

Short answer: Yes, you will get over it. Breakups hurt. Loss hurts. “Months” is not a very long time to expect total healing after a breakup. I ended a relationship of 6 years in September, and facing the first holiday season without him is a bummer. I still get pangs of sadness and miss a partner I broke up with in 2011 (he was pretty great). But the pain fades. No grief remains permanently unbearable.

Find ways to help yourself ride through the sadness. Let your partner know that you’re really missing your exes. Binge on Netflix. Eat ice cream. Go camping. Do whatever makes you feel happy with the here and now.

You may also want to consider that still missing them so strongly is a signal that it’s worth taking a second crack at making the relationship work. You said it ended because of “awkwardness” - consider talking to your partner about what happened and whether any new strategies or growth/healing in certain areas could help you two overcome the challenges you faced the first time around. It is very rare for me to suggest that the pain of missing an ex or former relationship is a signal to try and reignite it, and it’s not typically the right interpretation of such feelings, but it is something to think about.

If you find that this kind of pain happens often after loss or disappointment or change, and disrupts your life or goes on longer than you feel is reasonable for you to live your best life, consider talking to a mental health professional.

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.

I was recently dumped by one of my two partners. I miss him a lot, and am really, really sad I don’t have that relationship anymore, but every ‘how to deal with breakup’ thing under the sun is about being alone / single, which is like. Not the case. I have a girlfriend, but that doesn’t change how I feel. How should a poly kid cheer up after losing a partner?

First off, big hugs to you. Getting dumped sucks and I’m sorry. Interestingly, I recently had a relationship of 3.5 years end and I was pretty wrecked over it, and like you, I felt frustrated that there was very little practical advice for poly folks nursing the wounds of a breakup. The whole “go out with your friends and celebrate your new singleness by flirting with people at the bar” is just not relevant. Nor is “learn a new hobby to rediscover who you are without that person” sounds ridiculous too. So I totally get you.

One thing I always tell friends dealing with a breakup, and something I made sure to remind myself too is this: there’s a reason you dated, and a reason you broke up. Both those facts of reality can exist simultaneously. Thinking only about the good times can get you in a sad-spiral of missing them and wishing you could get back together. Thinking only about the breakup and re-framing them as the worst person ever is toxic and can put you in a shame-spiral of blaming yourself for making such a mistake. The reality is often far more complex and acknowledging the complexity can keep you out of some of those spirals.

As for the rest, if there was a magic cure for breakup sadness, someone would be selling it for a lot of money. This sort of thing takes time. Let yourself be sad for a bit. Losses are to be mourned. Getting dumped sucks. It’s okay to let your girlfriend know that you’re very sad about this and let her comfort you. You’re not “alone” now, but you’re still grieving a loss, and the fact that you’re hurt about this doesn’t mean your girlfriend isn’t “enough” for you.

Do your best to take care of and indulge yourself. Go out for your favorite meal. Take sick day to sleep in and watch Netflix. Solicit love from your tumblr followers. Try making a playlist of songs that make you feel better - after my breakup I made a playlist of pumped-up shouty-vocals power-lyrics fuck-you music that let me indulge my anger at my ex and also remind myself that I can be strong and independent even when I don’t want to be. (He follows me on Spotify so I just titled it X to be especially passive aggressive.) Do whatever makes you feel good, because you have a wound that needs healing. 

It’s tough but important to find the right balance of “letting yourself feel the feelings” and “find distractions to keep you from wallowing.” You don’t want to push away or deny your feelings. It’s okay to feel hurt, disappointed, betrayed, confused, angry, sad, whatever, but it’s not productive to just feed those feelings until you get stuck in a misery spiral. Do what makes you feel better without feeling like you’re responsible for just snapping yourself out of any bad feelings.

Hugs hugs. It’ll get better, I promise. And if you find anything else that works, please do come back and let me know.

is it normal / healthy to feel very upset / scared and insecure when your primary has broken up with their secondary?

If you’re feeling something, know that the feeling is real, and it’s valid, and it’s yours. There is no “normal” or “abnormal” reaction to something. Sometimes feelings can be unpleasant or seem (to ourselves or others) that they do not reflect reality, but the feelings are still real. They are valid. It is okay to feel whatever you are feeling. Now, we can react to feelings in ways that are unhealthy or destructive, and that’s something each of us works on in our own ways. But feelings on their own are not healthy or unhealthy; they simply are.

If you’re asking if these feelings are common, then yes, they are. Polyamory invites us into relationships that we don’t often have models for, like our relationships with partners’ partners. They become part of our lives and our worlds, and our partners’ other relationships become part of our relationship. When big things happen in our poly network, they ripple back to us. We feel those ripples and often don’t know how to understand or respond to those ripples.

I would suggest you reflect a bit on what’s behind those feelings. Maybe you saw your partners’ relationship with their secondary as a permanent, solid thing in your life, and its dissolution has reminded you of impermanence in ways that are scary. Maybe you are startled by the realization that your partner can break up with someone like that, and are worried that they will do the same with you. Maybe you created a bond with their other partner and are wondering if that connection must be severed because your network link has changed. Maybe you are seeing your partner feel hurt over a breakup and are absorbing that or feeling shame about not being able to fix things. All these are valid reasons to feel upset, scared, or insecure - but they’re all very different.

Once you figure out what’s behind these feelings, you’ll have a better understanding of how to respond to them and how best to discuss them with your partner. Seeing the feelings as unhealthy and trying to un-feel them won’t solve things, though, so let yourself feel them, let yourself sit with them, let yourself move through them. I am sorry to hear that your network is troubled at the moment and wish you the best in healing as you deal with a re-shifting of various relationships.