Break-up Styles


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Break-ups seem to be rough no matter how you do them and sometimes they can be pretty devastating. I'm curious to hear how people view break-ups. Is there a way that you typically do it? Ie, remain friends, remain civil, cut off contact, move across the country? Do you think there's a right or wrong way? Maybe a better way? Did you ever feel guilty for cutting some one out of your life? Do you think that polyamory affects your breakups? Can you compare a poly break up to one while you were still mono? Does how you react/structure the future interaction depend on whether you were the one who ended it?


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I am anti-processing. The way I see it, I'd rather leave a wound to heal and scar than pick it open constantly by re-visiting the issue of 'Why did it have to end'. I really am not in the mood post-break up to share any painful emotions with the person I have broken away from, or to let them see how badly affected I am. I rather go away and hide and cry to my friends.

An ex-boyfriend broke up with me and still kept calling every day and talking about everyday, inconsequential things. I had to tell him to stop, via text - couldn't deal with telling it straight on the phone. It just felt really weird - if you are still calling everyday, how exactly has our relationship changed?

With poly? If my current triad broke up into a vee, I probably couldn't deal. I know, I know, every relationship is unique, but post-break up, I tend to try avoiding things that remind of the person I've lost, you know?


New member
I have been the break uppee and the break upper.

I usually like to fill out how the other or others think things are going. I was going out with a person and asked how they feel about how our relationship was doing the person was grateful since I opened the topic and found that both of us felt more friendship than romance and decided to just be friends. We are still friends too. I been in a relationship where they felt it was going no where and decide they did not want to continue and broke up with me by text. I was more upset with the way they did it. If they were honest and said in a conversation and I am not feeling it I would be more receptive than out the blue.

I go with the saying treat others the way you wish to be treated. How would you respect a certain way of being broken up with it works for all relationships.


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If some one wanted to dump me I would just need to hear four words "this is not working". I don't need to know why. Details aren't my thing. When someone looks at a person and asks "why"...what they are really saying is "tell me what I can do to keep you".

When breaking up with someone in the past I tried to point out the positives for her. I didn't focus on "what was wrong" but focussed on what was now possible.


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Breaking up is always hard no matter how it happens.

I have had to break up from both of the supposed triangles I was in because they were rapidly becoming Vees with me as the hinge. 0_0 not something I am up for.

When I break up with someone I cut ties for about 6-9 months. Then, if they want to be friend, I am interested in that. But many want to rekindle and then I have to leave them be. I do my best not to go back to relationships that I know failed.


Active member
I don't actually remember very many of my past break-ups, they were so long ago. The ones that stand out most on my mind had some drama attached to the break-up, I guess. Before I got married, lots of the relationships I had just ended by kind of... fizzling out. We would just stop calling or seeing each other as much until we just... stopped. As far as whenever I've had to break it off with someone, I've just always tried to keep it simple, and I hate being asked for reasons or to give long explanations. Now, my recent breakups, since being separated, I do recall - and initially I've felt hurt and disappointed, and indulged in a bit of melodrama (email break-up??!! Puh-leeez!), but I'm finding that I can reach a certain place of objectivity fairly soon after, which surprises me.
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I guess I am the odd man out. I want to know why? I ask questions and I fight my ass off for a relationship. If I think it is worth it, I work at it ( I will respect a "don't bother trying" however ) I have a hard time just say "ya ok, it's over, great let's be friends" .. That's not in the cards for me. I can't just "stop" kudos to those of you who can. During a breakup i am a bit of a wreck.. Questioning everything.. My brain and heart take a mutually inclusive shit.. Util things settle down anyways..

To someone who said they wait a long time, become friends, and if any romantic inkling occurs you back off. What happens if they have changed? In a period of time lots can happen and the relationship may work under a new umbrella. I could never completely write off a relationship... You just never know.
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I'm with you Ari. Once in my heart, always in my heart. I fight for all I can get out of the end of a romantic relationship. Its served me well too. It has been well worth it :)


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I think I'm with Ari and RP. I can't just turn it off and I do want to know why. I think maybe if it was a really brief thing, like under 2 months, I might not need much of an explanation to feel closure. I think if you've been serious with someone it's only considerate to give them an honest explanation, even if it's as simple as "I no longer have feelings for you." I think most of us can tell when some one is feeding us a line of bullshit and it's pretty disrespectful and demeaning in my opinion.

And it is really hard, I've found, for me to be around someone that I have romantic feelings for when it's just platonic. It takes a long time for that to subside in my heart. I like the idea of taking 6-7 months off and then going from there.

Sometimes it can be good to know because it can help you improve and grow. And in our culture, it's pretty commonplace for people to be really passive/aggressive and hold in their issues and then one day just bolt because they were really unhappy. If they had said why, maybe it could have been solved?

There's also a continuum between cutting off ties/no explanations and someone not letting go/texting/contacting some one all the time wanting to talk about it. I like to think there can be healthy discussion about it without going over board.

I just can't wrap my brain around being close friends with my ex. The feelings are way too raw and that was back in February. Not to mention how shitty it ended. Some one recently said something like... If someone treats you like shit in a relationship, then why would you expect them to be a good friend to you?


New member
I have only ever had one break up that went well. It was one of those "I have no feelings for you". I was the one ending it too. We both agreed it wasn't working and it just ended. We talk here and then, but not often.

As for every other relationship to end, I have been a complete mess and at times, made things worse. Where I could have salvaged a friendship, I have completely destroyed everything. It's not my most proud of times.

I think every break up is as different as the relationship it is for though. I have no experience of a poly break up though and hope I don't have to. But I suppose it is bound to happen one day.


New member
Hmmm....Let me see here....

1st poly break up: The other guy got jealous of My wife and me and his wife's relationship, and decided he didn't want it going any further. Fair enough. So, because he and I worked together, it was difficult to "ignore" him or anything. Once he got fired, things got much easier. I didn't talk to him or her anymore, and didn't see either of them at all. MUCH easier.

Second poly break up: My wife and I were both dating a woman. She was very nice, and I could have seen it working out very well. However, she would tell me one thing, and then 5 minutes later, tell my wife something opposite. So, needles to say, it wasn't working after about a month and a half. My wife and I went to Naples for our anniversary. She (our gf) wanted to go also, but we told her no, as it was my wife and I's anniversary. And when we got to the point of an anniversary with her, we would celebrate that separately, so it was just as special. Well, apparently, that didn't go over well with her. She sent us a text while we were driving back from Naples. All her text said was "T***, I'm sorry, but I don't think this relationship is working." I asked why she thought it wasn't working. The reason for asking, was to see if I was making a mistake somehow, or if there were some sort of miscommunication. Nope...No mistakes or miscommunication. She told me why (which is far too involved to write here), and I simply told her "Ok. I'm sorry that it's not working out. I wish you the bestof luck in all your future endeavours. Take care Sweetie. I'll not bother you any more." And that was it. She took me off her facebook, deleted her OKC account, and I took her phone number off my phone. I have seen her in traffic once since her breaking up with us. She never saw me, and I basically ignored her and acted as if I didn't see her as I drove by. I wish it would have worked out, but even if she hadn't broken up with us, we would have eventually broken up with her anyway. :/ So, that's how it goes for us.

For us, it's best to completely disconnect. We eliminate all but one or two reminders of our past. I have two pictures of my wife and I's last GF. One is a pic of the three of us together before my last MMA fight, and the other is a pic of the two of them together. I keep those pics to remind me of what is possible. Not to remind me of what once was, or how bad it was.

Does my post make sense? LOL I think I am rambling.


New member
I like to know why, too. I had an ex who broke up with me by saying he didn't have feelings anymore. He was about to be posted and we had fallen HARD for each other. The breakup took me completely by surprise.

His reason never sat right with me.

About a year ago, we got back in touch. He admitted that he just couldn't handle how intense things were and didn't want either an LDR or the guilt he would've felt if I came with him.

I remember feeling so relieved after we talked about this. I finally had closure!


New member
I have ONLY ever had ONE BAD break-up that I remember anyhow...and that was in October.

We were a Triad (rotating degrees of love) for about 4 months. It got outta control and we ended it! AND it sucked hard....but....I borrowed from Dan Savage, and focused in on my Primary and had NO contact whatsoever with the third.

I was crushed and heart-broken....and it took me months to get over it. In the end, I needed a heated email exchange to come to my senses and block her from my life.

I still have NOT spoken to her in person or on the phone, but....maybe after a couple of years, that may be an option.

It feels good to not have her hanging over me anymore....really good. It was a lot of fricking work though. Ug!!

Peace out,


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I ended two monogamous marriages and remained "friendly" with my exs, but didn't do things together anymore as "friends". With my poly couple when I broke up with him (she and I were friends...he and I were a couple) I cut off all contact with him and ultimately cut off the friendship with her and other of their friends I had come to know. It was too painful for me to know what was going on with him and no longer be a part of his life. It was hard to avoid hearing about what was going on with him if I continued contact with his other partner and their friends. (Interestingly enough I do have occasional contact with his other partner's mother. She and I do quite well at keeping things separate.)
I worry a lot about breakups. In my teenager-hood, breakups tended to be about breaking up with people who cheated on me because I wouldn't sleep with them, later because they seemed too cowardly to just say "let's break up" instead of acting badly so I would break up with them.

When I met my first husband I was "dating" somebody...I...think? They were very un-sexual, and it was me trying to make thing happen, so when I suddenly met cough "the one" I felt somewhat badly, but not too horrible since I wasn't even sure if the other guys claims about trying to figure out whether to stay around or taking a job in another country was really about wanting to stay with ME or not, since he wasn't particularly verbally expressive.

This stage in poly is stressful to me. my first serious poly relationship led to a second marriage - I do always wonder if I might stay in a relationship that was less than ideal in order to avoid dealing with a black/white breakup. My current husband and I almost broke up a few times, and that was the first time I was every in a relationship that fell within some grey iffy "will it last or not" period

Now that I am back on the "market" I am concerned with this. My husband thought I was looking to jump into a relationship in general, because he was dating, more than waiting to find an ideal partner that fit my needs, and I know I'm not objective enough (or have had enough relationships in general) to know if am hoping that what is currently going on is a blessing or a curse for my life in the long run.

Will I be brave enough to break up with somebody in person? Should I do it vie email for ease...Yes, when I broke up with that guy I didn't even know if I was dating or not, to marry my ex almost 20 years ago, I sent that other guy a wedding invitation to let him know "see I only stopped "dating" you because THE ONE came along, so don't feel bad...

That all seems so ludicrous now, but I do admit I worry about how to break up with any future relationships, how to decide if it is time, knowing how to do it in the least traumatic way...I think I know there will be people I learn to love that I don't want to stay with - and I don't know how to deal with it then.

My ex-husband and I broke up due to really painful circumstances after 11-12 years, but really a friendship based on that many years was worth its weight in gold, so I would say 6 years later, he is the person who knows or understands me the best, so though things have been stressful at times, though we did not have some period of avoiding each other to heal, and we tried to keep dating (epic failure) right after, stayed friends for $ (on my part, divorce agreement to split my student loans because they were used for living expenses for both of use - was SO scared if we became alienated from each other he'd skip out on that long term obligation..) really if a crazy mistake ends up with a break up, if I see how there is value in people who have hurt you, if they have seen you grow up and change and blossom...I can't be black or white about this, as I truly thought my breakup with my first husband which would be a big ending - but it has become a great sounding board, friendship, advice and center of love, that I never saw happening.

Ok, truth is, my now 2nd HARDCORE I AM POLY husband said that he didn't think he would ever marry somebody who wasn't friends with their exes...not sure it would have turned out so splendidly if I didn't have that expectation from him... my ex broke every single agreement we had, including safe sex, cheating etc etc, if I hadn't already been exploring poly, pretty sure that would have been the end of speaking in general.

So yep, it had been 20 years since I have had to actively break up with somebody, but I've been keeping an eye on this thread so I won't be so clueless if I have to figure out how to end a relationship anytime in the future. Or a good check-in in case somebody breaks up with me of course... oh the horror!
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New member
Yes, when I broke up with that guy I didn't even know if I was dating or not, to marry my ex almost 20 years ago, I sent that other guy a wedding invitation to let him know "see I only stopped "dating" you because THE ONE came along, so don't feel bad...

:D:D:D Sorry, but I found this absolutely hilarious! Did the other guy come to the wedding?
:D:D:D Sorry, but I found this absolutely hilarious! Did the other guy come to the wedding?

Heh, no he never talked to me again after I told him I had met somebody I liked and wanted to date them, which was too bad because he was a really great guy.
I didn't realize until later the wedding invite might have come across as a slap in the face and not end up delivering the message I meant it to!


Active member
I worry a lot about breakups. . . .

Will I be brave enough to break up with somebody in person? Should I do it vie email for ease . . .

. . . I do admit I worry about how to break up with any future relationships, how to decide if it is time, knowing how to do it in the least traumatic way...I think I know there will be people I learn to love that I don't want to stay with - and I don't know how to deal with it then.
Well, I am sure this is not the thing to be thinking about going into a relationship, LOL!!!

Seriously, I said earlier in this thread that I don't recall how a lot of breakups went, mostly because a large number of my relationships just fizzled out to nothingness without any formal ending to them. And when there was an ending, it was usually the guy breaking up with me, I think. Now, after my separation last Summer, I only started dating again last Fall and in that time, I've experienced three breakups. Two broke up with me, and one I did the breaking up. I think, for me, I must always take the approach of telling the truth in the most compassionate way, but with the added consideration of not providing more information than is needed.

I remember two long-ago incidents where I blatantly and unemotionally told the truth. One wasn't a break-up, but I had turned down a guy when he asked me out. I was about 23, and he was a year older. He used to come in and drink in the lounge of the restaurant where I worked in my hometown. He had always been somewhat popular in high school and somewhat good-looking, but I was never attracted to him. I thought he was there drinking every night, but it turns out he was there just on my nights.

So one evening he asks me if I'll go out with him, and I said, "No thank you." He asks, "Oh, you have a boyfriend?" I answered, "No." He said, "A girlfriend?" I said, "No." He persists, "Are you married?" I tell him I'm not. With a puzzled look on his face, he says, "So, why won't you go out with me?" And I said, "I'm just not interested." He sat back in his chair and goes, "Why not?" And I'm thinking, "Jeez, what's it gonna take for you to fucking leave me alone?" But I didn't say anything else other than, "I just don't want to go out with you, okay? Now can I get you another beer?"

Why should I make up some stupid excuse?

Then, sometimes too much honesty is hurtful. I once broke off a friendship with a woman, and I went into this long tirade of all the things I felt were toxic about our friendship and why I couldn't hang out with her anymore. I could see her eyes glaze over and she just cut me off and said, "Fine, I gotta go." I realized afterwards that I had been mad at her and wanted to hurt her, and that felt terrible. So I know that sometimes, it's okay if there is a lot of crap left unsaid. Unless it's a heartfelt discussion after the break up, where learning and self-growth is the other person's reason for asking me WHY, I don't see it useful to get into too much detail. That being said, it's more than acceptable to give a succinct and distilled-down reason. I think everyone wants to know why.

For example, I recently broke up with M., which to me was a relationship that was still just starting out but not really going anywhere (I felt we had no sexual chemistry, although he obviously thought we did, besides the fact that he is not poly and had already told me he wanted us to be mono - but was putting up with my poly "for now"). To end it, I called him and said something like, "I've been wanting to talk to you about our relationship. I really don't think we're compatible, and so I don't feel we should continue seeing each other." He got all bent out of shape and asked me numerous times why, to which I tried to say, "It's just my instincts telling me we're not compatible," but he was getting angry and insistent, which was pissing me off -- I just wanted to be done with it -- so I finally gave him a little feedback, and said, "Well, I don't think we're on the same page as far as what we want, and our conversations often seem to become a bit adversarial."

I knew it would just be mean to say it was the lousy sex. Even so, he started bitching, "What, do you think everybody always gets along with each other perfectly all the time?!!" Oy. It started to become an argument -- as if he could now convince me we should still see each other??!! -- but I didn't want to get into it, so I calmly reiterated, "Listen, you're a very nice person, but I just don't think we're compatible enough for me to pursue a romantic relationship..." >>click<< He hung up.

Now, even though it started getting heated, it really wasn't an anxiety-provoking conversation for me. I was over it about ten minutes later, and I guess that's because I was just honest. If I was into drama, or had worked myself up into a frenzy over what to say, or come up with some elaborate song-and-dance, then that argument might have escalated into something ugly. I think I managed to nip it in the bud without hurting his feelings.

As for those times when I've been dumped, I'd much rather have a direct honest conversation, like my first post-separation break-up did, than to get some vague and weird email ending it, like the one that happened after that. So, no, don't break up with someone via email - it feels so disrespectful.


New member
I have just been through my first poly/poly "breakup." I talked a little about it here: This is SOOOO relevant to me right now.

To sum: We'd been on and off for about three years but I didn't start feeling serious about him until about January of this year and didn't let myself succumb until like Feb. In March, we established a "fluid bond" and just a few weeks ago, I asked for primary status which he'd initially stated was "workable" but that he didn't want to "make any promises he couldn't keep." Later, when asked (and after I admitted to being in love with him) he became defensive to my trying to "nail him down." Next day, he ended the relationship abruptly. There was no compromise. It was not open to discussion for him. I asked for something he couldn't give and it was O-V-E-R. Period.

He was pretty kool about letting me process and ask questions for the first night (and I was exhaustive about needing questions answered). I felt at the time like it was so sudden: I went into the discussion pretty secure in thinking we were going to work something out that made us both happy. I went home early, empty-handed, utterly dejected and wondering what the eff just happened. That night, I called and he let me me agonize over it for almost 2 hours. (I even tried to "work it out" with him so we could move on and continue the relationship. *gag*).

The next day started out okay but I pissed him off by pushing too hard for some facetime with him. He remained annoyed at me for a couple days.

Day four, I established as my "catharsis day." I wrote him an exhaustive letter that was gut-wrenchingly honest about my feelings on basically everything. I told myself before I clicked "send" that this would be the last time I would allow myself to bring it up with him ever again and that I'd better get it all out of my system. Then, I made plans to go out and work my problems out on the dancefloor.

Best thing I ever did. I feel 90% back to normal. That is to say: I have moved on, gotten over it and do not feel any agony over it. I feel ready to find others to love wholeheartedly and with no reservation (but then, we are always open to that possibility, anyway, right?) and we have had lunch and talked since (he brought it up this time, not me) and we're still friends.

The one thing I left out of the letter: How I think it's utter bullshit that he broke it off "to spare my feelings" and because he didn't want to "take a gamble with the friendship." These very reasons in and of themselves have done some damage to the friendship. The "spare my feelings" bit flies in the face of the mutual respect/trust thing I thought we had because I have never needed or wanted to be protected from "getting hurt" and I honestly believed we were transcendent of such nonsense.

The "taking a gamble" thing is trash because I feel that:
1. It's too late for that. We already made the decision buy the ticket and take the ride. You don't get to jump off in the middle and tuck n roll your way out the very first time you run into a snag without retaining some scratches.
2. The way he did it gave me zero say in the matter. My input was a zero factor. My willingness to talk it out, compromise and meet him halfway meant nothing. He made up his mind and executed and nothing I had to say was going to sway him at all.

That remaining 10% sprouts from this and from my own regrets about how I handled asking for what I wanted.

I feel some reservations and discomfort about him now. It's not overwhelming--we have always laughed a lot and agreed on a lot and I still feel like we'd make an awesome team in some fashion--but it's there. I can not get out of my head how he just decided to axe me so swiftly and easily and can not help but find his stated motives dubious. I can never tell him these things because they would only serve to cause more damage when all I really want is to generate positivity for both of us.

I know he wants the same so...

All-in-all, I'm happy with how I handled it. Not perfect but it worked out.
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I can empathize with that. It's so hard when it's not really a discussion more of a proclamation handed down from on high out of the blue. I know that other people have to make their own decisions and set boundaries but there is something about that that just really hurts and doesn't feel fair. And for me, I was handed a line of bullshit and told, oh, I'm doing this to help you. I think it's much easier to have a discussion when everyone's being honest. If some one tells you they simply don't have feelings for you any more, there's not much to discuss. Not much to argue. But when people hem and haw about something maybe being off, there's that hope of well, what if we fix X, Y, and Z?