Being Poly & Staying Friends with Your Ex


Well-known member
Okay, here's a question that has been really confusing for me:

Is there a connection between being poly and being more likely to stay friends with an ex?

By "friends" I mean actual, close friends, someone who is truly in your life, someone you talk to regularly and make an effort to spend time with. (Not when an ex just becomes an acquaintance that you run into once in a while and say hi to on occasion).

In my life and past relationships, I have always had an idea or expectation that an ex should want to remain close friends with me, but this always turned out to be painfully, devastatingly unrealistic. I guess I have reached the conclusion that I am off-the-norm to have this expectation.

When I lost my friendship with my most recent ex, my friends were kind of like, "Oh well, no one's supposed to be friends with their ex."

To be honest, I don't know even one monogamous person who has remained friends with an ex, although I do know a few poly people who have done so--but I don't know if that's a coincidence or not.

It seems to me that a lot of the problems I have with the idea of monogamy--a lot of the reasons why I have been seeking polyamory or some other form of non-monogamy--are related to the fact that I am totally disgusted with the idea that an old lover is someone who is suppose to be "no longer in your life."


Active member
It's pretty common for lesbian exes to be close, and very much in each other's lives. In fact, it's so common it's a stereotype. I've never been able to do this which is considered a bit odd in my lesbian community. I want to find a way to keep my most recent ex in my life but I have no idea how to manage this.


New member
I'm not sure that poly is the most important variable. I think the first variable that has to be addressed is whether or not the breakup was mutual. If one of you is still in love with the other, friends is probably not going to work. Or if the break up was acrimonious. Also, how much time do you expect before jumping into a friendship? How mature are both parties? Do they have an agenda in the friendship? I know mono people who have pursued both paths and poly people. It is fair to say that society often dictates that exes aren't usually friends. Perhaps people drawn to poly are less likely to comply with society's norms? I think that poly does also acknowledge the possibilities for people in different roles. However, plenty of monogamous people are capable of all these things AND do them. I am personally of the out of my life camp. At least for a good long while after the break up. I find it to be too painful and not worth it.


Hmm interesting question.

I can say my experience is the opposite. Many of my ex`s from 'monogamy' I am still friends with. I haven`t found that ability with poly being part of the equation. Once the relationship ends, it has been done, despite everyone`s efforts.


New member
If you accept the "precept" that "all relationships are usery." Then by expansion on that proposition, the relationship ends at a point where one or both parties no longer have a use for the other party.

However, I do believe we all continue to have a certain empathy for the party in the former relationship.As to whether that empathy translates into a continued friendship demands entirely on facts, circumstances, and the influences around the parties individually.

For example a poly husband and a mono wife split up. By divorce decree the husband pays the ex-wife $1,100 in monthly Alimony. Now one may suspect that the ex-wife may feel that a friendship is out on the question in the short term, but $1,100 coming in each and every month may soften that stance, in effect she is still using the relationship.

After a time the ex-husband may rationalize that the Alimony is using the relationship, but he may wish a friendship with the ex-wife because as a poly, his natural instinct is to continue to care you those he has loved in the past.

So basically, once the emotional aspects of the break-ups are resolved. We move back into our own self interests, and those interests usually include communicating with those who support us.
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New member
It's pretty common for lesbian exes to be close, and very much in each other's lives. In fact, it's so common it's a stereotype. I've never been able to do this which is considered a bit odd in my lesbian community. I want to find a way to keep my most recent ex in my life but I have no idea how to manage this.

I have only a few of my exes still in my life, the majority are really not. Many others in the lesbian community view this as odd too.


New member
Most of my exes are not in my life and I don't think that poly is a factor in that. I need for when a relationship is over for it to be over. I find it difficult once there has been closeness like that with someone to go back to being friends and keeping all my many feelings to myself :)


New member
I have managed it in the past, but am struggling with it now. We split mutually even though we still care for each other quite a bit. Right now because of the feelings still involved its hard to know how to move on. I want to call and share everything like I always did, but its to raw for us. I want to talk to my best friend to work through what I'm feeling about our break up and cant because they are my best friends.


New member
I am friends with many of my exes. Have gone back and tried to 're-date' several. Kinda how I got into this poly thing, was staying friends with my last ex. I did date his best friend, so it would have been weird not to talk.

My high school bf (the longest term one) looked me up after his wife passed. He was really looking for a new mom for his kids though; and all the reasons I never married him the first time were still existant, so I passed on that. I am not friends with either of my two long-term girlfriends, though when I was with the second, I made attempts at being friends with the first. We did work in the same (huge) organization. Lotsa drama in my twenties. ;)

I had a really wise therapist advise me to take 40 days and 40 nights complete break before changing a relationship (no contact whatsoever). It's usually been one-sided (mine); but they have cooperated nicely. When I don't do that, it usually goes badly for me. That therapist was friends with everyone, and always wanted to know her lovers' entire histories, with details.

I figure if I like and love you well enough to do you; I'm not going to stop liking you /loving you just because we don't want to have sex anymore. When I had the breakup conversation with First boyfriend, we went round for an hour or so. But I had talked to him early on, and he had said that he had never stayed in contact with people he broke up with. So I brought that up. And I started crying at that point, and saying how much I liked him, and if I had to go away thinking we could never hang out again, I'd be really broken up about that. And that's when he started crying (and he got mad, and said 'there, are you satisfied? now I'm crying.')(and I was, a little). But I figured that would mean we would come round to friendship. And it had a LOT to do with the magick of Current boyfriend. He is naturally gregarious and inclusive. In his wildest dreams, it never occurred to him that three of us would not be good friends again. My favorite picture of us is the day that we were first all together after the breakup. We had lunch at a local pub and it was just a very sweet reunion. (I also found out that day that First bf's new girl had dumped him)

So, maybe it's not poly per se; but in me, perhaps it is.


New member
I'm friends with most of my mono exes, with the exception of one who I didn't keep in contact with after the last time I saw him. There wasn't any reason why, I was just very young and focused on other things so his absence didn't equal a loss.

With poly it could be different but we'll just have to see.


New member
I wrote about this recently in my blog.

I think it helps a ton given how small poly communities are and the different relationship forms/connections one can have in the poly context.


New member
I've been thinking about this quite a bit. I'm friends with a couple of people I've connected with*, but very few. And I'm also most definitely NOT friends with a couple people I've connected with. But most of them I'm just not in touch with. I don't harbor any animosity towards them, but we aren't friends.

I don't know how much being poly has to do with this though. I didn't identify as poly until relatively recently (I agreed with the concept but wasn't familiar with the word). MC and I were semi-open in our marriage but it was all FWBs, no serious LTRs. So there were rarely "break-ups" in the usual sense of the word. Usually the "benefits" part would end BECAUSE the friendship ended. So staying friends really wouldn't have made sense.

Also, I realized that TGIB is the first poly person I've had ANY kind of connection or relationship with. No one else (as far as I know, at least) was looking for or trying to have a serious relationship with me. So perhaps their more "mono" mindset also contributed to us not staying in touch afterwards.

*I could use the term "relationship", but to me a relationship implies some sort of commitment.


Active member
I don't know how much being poly has to do with this though... So perhaps their more "mono" mindset also contributed to us not staying in touch afterwards.
I really don't think being poly or mono has anything to do with how friendly someone remains with an ex. I always lived monogamously until late 2010 and I have been friends with many exes, and never wanted to ever see some others. For about six years, I hung out in a large circle of friends and we all dated each other, recycled our boyfriends, and hung out - all mono! I attended two weddings of guys I dated, and they (and their wives) came to my wedding. There was one guy in those six years who must've dated about five of us in that time, and we were all friends. Some breakups are brutal and you can never go back. But it isn't about being poly or mono, it's about how well (or if) you can set aside hurt, stop seeing people as they were "back then," and how willing you are to move forward, I think.


New member
I'm not sure how being poly and how you stay friends with exes or not has anything to do with each subject. I mainly haven't kept in contact with a lot of exes, because they were just bad choices in life so far. There is perhaps one, maybe two I am still friends with, thuogh even then, we don't really talk. There have been ones i've tried to stay friends with afterwards too, but THEY didn't want to. But it's no real loss. People come and go from my life often. Even my longest and closest friend has only been around since the beginning of high school. People change and others, you just get to know better.