Taking Space

In this post I talked about the ways that lacking scripts for polyamorous breakups can allow for more complex possibilities - but also create pressure to behave according to new scripts. Being "polyamorous enough" to manage our breakups in non-traditional, friendly ways and to share space with exes immediately (or to not say a word about our discomfort in those breakups and resets to anyone in public) can be an expectation we aren't actually comfortable with.





Those scare quotes are there for the same reason they are in my discussion of compersion - there is no such thing as "polyamorous enough." There is not a series of tests you must pass to legitimize your relationships or identity. Being hurt by the end of a relationship and needing to take serious space (from events where your ex will be, from seeing them alone, etc) is a very reasonable human response. I talked in that "breaking up is hard to do" post about choosing to "share" local events without actively being in the same place - and I stand by that. Not "making people choose" but choosing to absent yourself or not RSVP yes if your ex says they're coming is upholding your own boundaries.


If you've never been in a position where you wanted space from an ex, please consider if you've ever been the person who felt rejected in the end of a relationship; if you have been the person who didn't feel secure in sustaining all your friendships; if you've had support from a large circle of friends in ending relationships and staying active in community. Being the person who has never needed that space; who has been the "dumper;" who's been lucky enough to not be blindsided by a breakup, does not make you more emotionally mature than someone who is processing rejection as best they can and needs some space and friends to figure that out. There is no virtue in white-knuckling it through discomfort at the end of a relationship to make others feel better at the expense of your own boundaries. It is only "making people choose" if one of the people at the end of a relationship explicitly takes all of the events with a certain person or group, instantly grabbing RSVPs, and making sure the other can't attend and needs to bend their whole schedule out of whack to stay connected.


One of the unfortunate truths about polyamory is that being connected to more people can mean more breakups- that having the possibility of more than one escalator-relationship can mean the loss of more than one person you expected to have in your life forever - and that sometimes means needing to give ourselves and our friends extra grace around navigating these. It's been a few years since I had one of these "big breakups" (thanks, pandemic!) but people turning to me to ask in an accusatory tone if I would come out to more things my ex was at YET, as if it were a given that we definitely would some time, and as if when we did start interacting it would magically be non-awkward because we'd paused a couple months, is one of my least fond memories. It made me (for quite some time) regard people who repeatedly made those requests as bad listeners and emotionally unsafe for me. If they couldn't hear and accept a boundary I was laying without asking them to change behavior "please, invite us both separately, one or the other will end up attending," how could I expect them to behave when there was expectation or need of action attached to a request or conversation? Not well.


What I'm saying here is, essentially, be understanding about need for space between members of your community. Is it wonderful when a breakup happens to land at an easy de-escalation and folks are friends right away? Yes. Is that the most likely outcome? Absolutely not. Be the safe place to express that its hard; don't make people's breakups about you - and do this without choosing sides. It's the kind thing to do.


_________


Catch up on the podcast here; follow me on Instagram and TikTok @readyforpolyamory and Twitter (until it burns down) @ready4polyamory for more frequent updates; read or listen to the book for my in-depth thoughts on polyamory; and catch my upcoming classes. (4 more classes before the end of the year - Boundary Expression and Enforcement is running 11/29 in the evening next - tickets are here.)

67 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All