When it's Time to Leave
One of the best things about polyamorous relationships is how deeply personalized we can make the relationship experience. When we toss out the monogamous script of expectations - the relationship escalator, the pre-determined path of “how things work”- we give ourselves a great space to play in, emotionally, with our partners. This can ‘save’ relationships that might otherwise be tossed aside because they “aren’t going anywhere” according to a monogamous script. It can let us revel in love and affection with some of the important people in our lives in ways we might not otherwise let ourselves if we were dating in a goal-oriented manner. But it can simultaneously paper over weaknesses in relationships that are falling apart. “Well, this relationship doesn’t have to meet all my needs,” we may say to ourselves as a comfort, as we realize an expectation in a relationship is not just unmet, but won’t ever be met. While that can be alright - can be more than alright and yield some of those beautiful situations above - it can also hold people for longer than they might otherwise stay in relationships that have ceased to work for them.
“I still love this person” is a very strong attractive force. But love and compatibility are not the same; love and meeting each others’ needs are not the same; love and being in a good place to be together now, even if you once were, or you hope to be again, are not the same. When we have multiple partners, sometimes the way we can spread out emotional energy is a multiplier, a net positive - we grow in love, in life, in energy, by being with these people who we care so much about, and we mutually feed each others’ flames. But sometimes it’s a distraction - we’re too busy in other places in our lives to delve deeply into why a given pattern or conflict or unmet need keeps reoccurring between us and this partner. This can be willful - no one enjoys admitting that something is ending, or that a relationship is fundamentally not working. But the Beatles’ song isn’t right, love isn’t all you need.
So this feeds into this ongoing polyamorous struggle - that because polyamory is personalized (and personal) we can’t predict for you which way your relationship patterns will play out. Will polyamory give you clarity on what relationships are feeding your soul and energy? Or will it obfuscate whether a problem is a little bump or a fundamental incompatibility? It depends on you and your habits and what you want. Are you someone who struggles with expressing your needs? Polyamory will make you get better, but often in a trial-by-fire kind of way that involves painfully figuring out that you’ve stayed in this relationship too long. If you’re someone who’s great at identifying needs, boundaries, and where they’re being met&respected versus not, you will instead be the kind of person for whom polyamory is a wakeup call to fix problems in relationships or end them early - to best build networks that sustain you and your partners. It’s a feature, not a bug, that relationships end when they aren’t working anymore - and it’s up to us to notice that that isn’t the case.
You can find the podcast at readyforpolyamory.fireside.fm, you can join us on facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/readyforpolyamory, follow on Twitter @lauracb88 & instagram @readyforpolyamory, and if you'd like to support us financially we're on Patreon at www.patreon.com/readyforpolyamory and ko-fi at ko-fi.com/readyforpolyamory. The book is available on Amazon; please leave a review if you enjoy it!