Look, overall polyamory is really great. It allows for unique, enriching, and deeply fulfilling relationships to exist that may not in most traditional ways, and provides one with the opportunity to have their emotional and sexual needs met without putting all of those fulfillment needs on a single person. I love it and it’s honestly the ideal way for me to experience deep connections and bonds.
Yet as great as all of that is, nothing really prepares you for the emotional toll of multiple, and/or simultaneous, breakups. One is fucking rough enough. Over the past two months though I’ve gone through not one, not two, but six total breakups and relationship de-escalations, and I was a bit of a goddamn mess about it.
It’s been drumming up a lot of really painful memories, PTSD, and has lead to me realizing that, while I’m generally a very comfortable person in relationships that thrive in communication, trust, connection, respect, and love, I absolutely have some long-standing issues with Rejection Sensitivity that I haven’t exactly faced until now (more on that at another time).
In the past, with the sheer amount of emotional turmoil, anxiety, insecurity, and hurt I’ve been experiencing as of late, I’d usually swing to one of two extremes: either in self-destruction through excessive indulgence on sex and alcohol, or, in self-destruction through withdrawing, isolating, and angrily pushing everybody away.
Fortunately, I didn’t take either of those paths this time!
I’m still generally feeling hyper-vigilant, waiting for more heartbreak at any moment, but trying to keep positive overall and trust in my remaining connections. Here’s some of the coping techniques I’ve been utilizing that I suggest you consider as well if you’re going through a similarly rough time:
Have A Good Fucking Cry
Seriously, let it the fuck out, friend! This sucks. It sucks and it hurts.
So, cry. Like, ugly cry even. Weep, uncontrollably! Let the boogers dangle from your nose, the tears soak your face and shirt, and curl up in a big ball of sad. Allow yourself to completely and utterly break the fuck down. Do it a few times a day if you need to!
Now is literally as valid a time as ever.
Do a LOT of What You Love
Once that’s out of your system, and it may take three or four, maybe even ten or more good cries, it’s time to fill the void left behind. But be careful with what! Try to avoid excessive partying or intoxicants if you can and focus on your hobbies and special interests. Write, read, play video games, watch Adventure Time all the way through several times, binge the entirety of the MCU on Disney+, whatever! Self-care is paramount at the best of times, so, going extra hard on treating yourself and coping with the things you enjoy right now is honestly even better.
During my separation and fleeing two back-to-back abusive living situations during the global pandemic I pretty much spent upward of 60% of my time existing in Elder Scrolls Online. It was exactly the escape I needed and I have no regrets about disappearing into a fantasy world for a little while in order to make it through so many traumatic experiences.
You do what you need to in order to keep safe and feel comfortable and relaxed.
Ask Your Friends and/or Other Partners for Help
Sad times happen and support is definitely a valid thing to ask of your other partners and friends during times of emotional turmoil. Needing a little extra love, affection, and affirmation from your partners and friends right now is absolutely understandable.
That being said, it’s also important for you to not put all of your support needs solely on those individuals. Consider also seeking out counseling if needed, and ensure that you’re looking after yourself in whatever ways you’re capable of right now as well. Take more naps, order delivery, open your blinds and crack your windows, eat a handful of dry cereal, whatever you need to do to ensure your basics are covered.
Should you be in mental health crisis though, please be sure that you reach out to others and seek professional support as soon as possible!
Self-Reflect and Re-Calibrate
Whether things ended on good terms or bad, whether letting go was your choice or your exes’, breakups are a sign that something just isn’t clicking for one, or all involved. When you’re feeling ready be sure to take some time to think about what your needs, desires, wants, and boundaries are coming out of these endings. This as an excellent opportunity to really reflect on how your relationships, both past and present, have made you feel and to consider what future bonds may need to look like in order for you to feel safe, secure, and happy.
After my string of hard breakups I realized that I’d been compromising on some of my communication non-negotiables and my relationship boundaries in ways that had actually become quite harmful to me. I was remaining quiet about things such as emotional withholding, the silent treatment, as well constant criticism and put downs, which were all hard limits for me before, because I was so worried about the repercussions of speaking up about how I was feeling. Instead of letting go of something that had clearly become toxic and hurtful I hung on for better days, keeping me trapped in bad patterns, and allowed it to drag me down more and more.
But it’s not too late to learn and grow from stuff like that! You too can come out of your breakups with a better understanding of yourself, and equip yourself with the experiences and skills to ensure your next connections don’t repeat unhealthy emotional patterns.
Of course, none of this is a magical fix. I hope that the big takeaway you get here is to just be kind to, and patient with, yourself right now. This is rough, and it blows, but you’ll make it through stronger and ideally with a better understanding of yourself and your needs. For now though, take all the time you need, don’t run away from your emotions, and show yourself a little love as you heal and grow.
My nesting partner recently had this to say to me about my rough polyamory breakup blitz, which I feel is an affirmation worth sharing: “You deserve to have people in your life who are enthusiastic about you! The more people you audition at once, the more are gonna flunk it.” And they’re right!
Don’t fill the roles you want in your life with just anybody. Fill them with the individuals who care about you for you, and who truly want to forge an uplifting and enriching relationship too.