My married partners may split up. How can I best handle this?

___3___

New member
Help. I'm at a loss. I've been in a triad with a married couple for several months. Up until a few weeks ago, everything has been absolutely wonderful. Compersion everywhere. One of my partners (A) has expressed some insecurities lately, and believes that her spouse (B) loves me more. (To be clear, I don't feel this is the case, but it's also easy for me to say that in the position I'm in.) All three of us have expressed interest in working through these issues, but it's becoming more and more evident that there are many unresolved issues between the two of them. I do my best to just hold space for both of them without taking sides or mediating.

Well, there is another fight underway. (We all live together so that complicates things.) Things are very unsettling for me. To be clear... I love them both very much and have found personal happiness in this dynamic. HOWEVER, I refuse to be the reason that their marriage falls apart. I just do not want any part in that. Recently, B was venting to me about everything and expressed concern that things may be ending for A and B. I understand it was an emotionally charged conversation, but B wants my assurance that I will stay in an exclusive relationship with B if things go that way. I simply cannot choose between them, and I don't like the position this puts me in.

How can I let both of them know I love them deeply, but if it's not the three of us, it can't be any of us?
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I'm sorry you struggle.

FWIW? This is what I think.

Recently, B was venting to me about everything and expressed concern that things may be ending for A and B.

You might need to remind B that you are IN the system. You live there. You are a member of the triad. While the stuff between A+B is between THEM? There is going to be "ripple effects" on you. You are partner to both. So you are not like an outside observer.

  • Part of "working this out" through these issues might be you having strong personal boundaries with both partners during conflict resolution times
  • Could ask B to please not to vent stuff to you because it puts you in the middle. (And too much of that invites implosion.)
  • Could suggest B seek someone OUTSIDE the system to vent and process with instead. Maybe they both want to see a counselor together or as individuals so they get extra support.

Just because you are partner to both? It doesn't mean you automatically have to be up for these "help me resolve conflict" or "support me in my break up" conversations because you are dating the person they are in conflict with or breaking up with! It will get hard to hear. You also don't have to be like the free therapist.

If they are doing "pass the buck" stress whooshies at you? You can say "Hold up there!" and enforce your personal boundaries.

Could comfort in, kvetch out.


And remember you yourself may need some of that comforting. Esp if them arguing hurts ou too. Or them breaking up is going to lead to everyone single because you are not interested in being in a "V" with two exes.

B wants my assurance that I will stay in an exclusive relationship with B if things go that way. I simply cannot choose between them, and I don't like the position this puts me in.

You speak honestly.

"B, I cannot promise that I will stay in an exclusive relationship with you if you and A break up. You two breaking up would basically break up the triad. How it lands after that? What sort of shape it takes? I can't say yet. Too soon. I can reassure you that I love you, and I'm trying to the weather the storm with you.

Maybe you both work something out or find a way to part gracefully. If you do break up? I have to think on whether I would want to be in a V with both of you, or one of you and a new person, or it goes to all of us single. We all have to think about that.

Let's take it one thing at a time here. It's a lot to process."

How can I let both of them know I love them deeply, but if it's not the three of us, it can't be any of us?

Some people have told me I'm intimidating or weird when I want to know ahead of time "How do you like to break up if we have to break up?" but things like this are exactly why. One is responsible for their own emergency preparedness so they don't have to pile on "catch up" conversations later while all distraught from a break up. I prefer to reduce my stress loads along the way and one way to do that is to have clear expectations from the start.

If you did not talk this out early on? How things would end if they have to end?

Then trying to catch it up now might be delicate.

You could resolve to speak your truth. Be honest.

And you spend some time thinking about WHEN the time is to speak and and HOW to speak.

Like if they are crying and venting in your lap? And the goal of that interaction is to LISTEN and COMFORT?

Then that would NOT be the best time to go "BTW... If this ends then I'm breaking up with you too." Because that is not listening nor comforting.

On the flip side, it's not kind to give false hope or sugar coat or prolong. And you have your own needs to meet.

So... even if you do not tell them THIS VERY MINUTE if they are sobbing in your lap?

Could make an appointment to have your own talk. And the goal of THAT interaction is to get on the same page with both partners about possible "ripple effects" of them breaking up. Esp if you prefer to bow out and call it triad ended, everyone single now. Lay out a clear expectation so you can do your OWN healing from all this turmoil.

  • Def not in public. Have the conversation at home. If people get emotionally flooded, they usually don't like doing it at the grocery or while driving or whatever.
  • Have the tissues and some water handy if people tend toward crying. Fidget things for the doodlers and fidgeters who need to move while talking.
  • Prob not a work night. Doing it on Fri night gives them the weekend to rest and do some self care and not like "Crap! Now I have work the next day! UGH!"
  • A timer to set for 20 min. Because people flood around 20 minutes and some conversations are best in installments with breaks to rest and get it back together than going for marathon things that poop everyone out. It doesn't take 20 minutes to say "I prefer to part ways." Hammering out details of splitting belongings and so on can be separate follow up conversations scheduled at another time.
  • Might consider telling in a letter or email if you think you will crumble if you say it orally or get distracted or forget points.
Stuff like that.

Triad is one of the hardest models. I think if people go there? It needs to go suuuuuper slow.

In future, you might consider not moving in with people you date so soon. If you've only been dating them for a few months and here it is breaking up already? From your own flat, it would have affected you less and you'd have had time and space away from the arguments.

Next time might consider waiting out the 6-24 month NRE time, to see the new polyship really get on its legs well. And maybe even longer after that before thinking about cohabitation.

Then if things don't work out, it's not like you have to be moving in and out because you didn't move in as fast. And you aren't out the time, energy and expense of moving around.

HTH!
Galagirl
 
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Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
I'd recommend moving out. It sounds like you've only been in a "triad" with them for a few months and are already living with them? Why did you do that? Sometimes pandemic relationships make us do less than wise or ethical things.

It's very very difficult to keep triads going. Here you have one partner enamored of you, in NRE hormone la la land. And the other partner feels demoted, and this is shining a spotlight on some issues they may have.

Things sound wonky. If I were you, I'd move back and out take a break to let this couple work on their relationship. Don't make any promises to B. Get out and let them figure out their differences, heal or break up. It's not your fault. They are adults and they made the decision to capture a unicorn and date her together.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Well, it looks like I just posted the tl;dr version of Galagirl's post. ;)
 

___3___

New member
I'm sorry you struggle.

FWIW? This is what I think.



You might need to remind B that you are IN the system. You live there. You are a member of the triad. While the stuff between A+B is between THEM? There is going to be "ripple effects" on you. You are partner to both. So you are not like an outside observer.

  • Part of "working this out" through these issues might be you having strong personal boundaries with both partners during conflict resolution times
  • Could ask B to please not to vent stuff to you because it puts you in the middle. (And too much of that invites implosion.)
  • Could suggest B seek someone OUTSIDE the system to vent and process with instead. Maybe they both want to see a counselor together or as individuals so they get extra support.

Just because you are partner to both? It doesn't mean you automatically have to be up for these "help me resolve conflict" or "support me in my break up" conversations because you are dating the person they are in conflict with or breaking up with! It will get hard to hear. You also don't have to be like the free therapist.

If they are doing "pass the buck" stress whooshies at you? You can say "Hold up there!" and enforce your personal boundaries.

Could comfort in, kvetch out.


And remember you yourself may need some of that comforting. Esp if them arguing hurts ou too. Or them breaking up is going to lead to everyone single because you are not interested in being in a "V" with two exes.



You speak honestly.

"B, I cannot promised that I will stay in an exclusive relationship with you if you and A break up. You two breaking up would basically break up the triad. How it lands after that? What sort of shape it takes? I can't say yet. Too soon. I can reassure you that I love you, and I'm trying to the storm with you.

Maybe you both work something out or find a way to part gracefully. If you do break up? I have to think on whether I would want to be in a V with both of you, or one of you and a new person, or it goes to all of us single. We all have to think about that.

Let's take it one thing at a time here. It's a lot to process."



Some people have told me I'm intimidating or weird when I want to know ahead of time "How do you like to break up if we have to break up?" but things like this are exactly why. One is responsible for their own emergency preparedness so they don't have to pile on "catch up" conversations later while all distraught from a break up. I prefer to reduce my stress loads along the way and one way to do that is to have clear expectations from the start.

If you did not talk this out early on? How things would end if they have to end?

Then trying to catch it up now might be delicate.

You could resolve to speak your truth. Be honest.

And you spend some time thinking about WHEN the time is to speak and and HOW to speak.

Like if they are crying and venting in your lap? And the goal of that interaction is to LISTEN and COMFORT?

Then that would NOT be the best time to go "BTW... If this ends then I'm breaking up with you too." Because that is not listening nor comforting.

On the flip side, it's not kind to give false hope or sugar coat or prolong. And you have your own needs to meet.

So... even if you do not tell them THIS VERY MINUTE if they are sobbing in your lap?

Could make an appointment to have your own talk. And the goal of THAT interaction is to get on the same page with both partners about possible "ripple effects" of them breaking up. Esp if you prefer to bow out and call it triad ended, everyone single now. Lay out a clear expectation so you can do your OWN healing from all this turmoil.

  • Def not in public. Have the conversation at home. If people get emotionally flooded, they usually don't like doing it at the grocery or while driving or whatever.
  • Have the tissues and some water handy if people tend toward crying. Fidget things for the doodlers and fidgeters who need to move while talking.
  • Prob not a work night. Doing it on Fri night gives them the weekend to rest and do some self care and not like "Crap! Now I have work the next day! UGH!"
  • A timer to set for 20 min. Because people flood around 20 minutes and some conversations are best in installments with breaks to rest and get it back together than going for marathon things that poop everyone out. It doesn't take 20 minutes to say "I prefer to part ways." Hammering out details of splitting belongings and so on can be separate follow up conversations scheduled at another time.
  • Might consider telling in a letter or email if you think you will crumble if you say it orally or get distracted or forget points.
Stuff like that.

Triad is one of the hardest models. I think if people go there? It needs to go suuuuuper slow.

In future, you might consider not moving in with people you date so soon. If you've only been dating them for a few months and here it is breaking up already? From your own flat, it would have affected you less and you'd have had time and space away from the arguments.

Next time might consider waiting out the 6-24 month NRE time, to see the new polyship really get on its legs well. And maybe even longer after that before thinking about cohabitation.

Then if things don't work out, it's not like you have to be moving in and out because you didn't move in as fast. And you aren't out the time, energy and expense of moving around.

HTH!
Galagirl
Thank you so so much for your incredibly thoughtful and thorough reply. All of this is really helpful, and I have a lot to think about.

As for moving in together so soon... I definitely agree. I thought this was a special circumstance because we had all been such emotionally close friends before entering a romantic relationship together. But I see now that I should have waited longer. It may have been better for everyone.
 

___3___

New member
I'd recommend moving out. It sounds like you've only been in a "triad" with them for a few months and are already living with them? Why did you do that? Sometimes pandemic relationships make us do less than wise or ethical things.

It's very very difficult to keep triads going. Here you have one partner enamored of you, in NRE hormone la la land. And the other partner feels demoted, and this is shining a spotlight on some issues they may have.

Things sound wonky. If I were you, I'd move back and out take a break to let this couple work on their relationship. Don't make any promises to B. Get out and let them figure out their differences, heal or break up. It's not your fault. They are adults and they made the decision to capture a unicorn and date her together.
Thank you so much for responding. I'll tell you the same thing I told GalaGirl... As far as moving in together so soon: I thought these were extraordinary circumstances because we had all been such good friends for so many years. This wasn't like finding a married couple on Tinder and becoming their unicorn. I've known them both for many years, and have had a solid emotional relationship with them for a long time. Granted, I knew that I didn't know them in this capacity yet... but I truly felt that I made the right decision at the time. (Hindsight is 20/20 now though.)

Both partners have expressed to me that they don't want me to leave. But if they don't work out, then I don't really see a V situation working out either. I think there would be too much animosity. (Although I don't really know... we've never even breached the topic before.)

I feel myself spiraling into all the "what ifs", when what I really need to do is take things a step at time. I have lots to think about.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
It's fine if they don't want you to move out. You get to decide what would make you most comfortable. They have their feelings, and you have yours. Honor yourself.

I'm sorry that this attempted triad with old friends is getting weird. But adding sex to a friends equation can be very tricky! Our current culture seems to downplay the power of sex. It's no big deal! It's just like playing a board game together! haha!

But it's not. We stir up very strong doses of powerful hormones, which get into our brains and bodies and... can cause us to act like crazy people if we don't put some brakes on. ;)

Read up on NRE, new relationship energy. It's one of the biggies to learn about when we attempt poly.
 

tdh

Active member
Recently, B was venting to me about everything and expressed concern that things may be ending for A and B
This statement sounds emotionally manipulative. This would worry me. If I heard this I would find it emotionally manipulative. However if I was being manipulated, I might not notice it. And I don't think, "I was mad" or "said this in the heat of the moment" could be an excuse here. Red flag on the field

How can I let both of them know I love them deeply, but if it's not the three of us, it can't be any of us?
This actually reads pretty well. "I love you both deeply but if it can't be the 3 of us then the triad will need to end sadly" with no promises to date either. And after you would probably want to take a break anyway for your healing.
HOWEVER, I refuse to be the reason that their marriage falls apart. I just do not want any part in that.
Based on the previous problems in A's & B's relations, you are not the reason but the excuse. Do not take this emotional burden on.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello ___3___,

I think you need to sit down with your partners, and tell them, "It troubles me to know that the two of you are not getting along, and I am concerned that you might break up. I love both of you deeply, but I want no part in a breakup. Also I don't want to have to choose between the two of you. If I can't be with both of you, then I'd rather be with neither." Also I agree with the others that you should get your own (separate) place of residence as soon as you can. Get off this ship before it sinks.

I'm so sorry you're going through this.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

Tinwen

Active member
Some people fight (often, or not so often, but regularly) and have breakup worries in the process and don't break up. Try to keep in mind that no break up is happening yet. This may be even the best way to support your partner. Keep your distance, do your self care, trust they're gonna work it out.
 

MeeraReed

Active member
This sounds very painful, 3. Could you focus on yourself and on identifying what YOU want for yourself?

Even the fact that you picked the username "__3__" here suggests to me that you are having trouble separating yourself from the triad unit. It's not your job to keep this couple together. It's not your fault if they break up.

Are you polyamorous yourself, or is this your first poly relationship? If all three of you break up, what would you want to do when you are ready to date again--seek out another polyamorous relationship, or be monogamous?

Let's say that A and B do end up breaking up. Would you then break up with each of them and go your own way? Would you want to stay with one of them? If you did what B wanted and stayed with B while breaking up with A, would you continue being poly and also want to find another partner of your own? I find B's request that you be exclusive with B to be quite presumptuous on B's part.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
Up until a few weeks ago, everything has been absolutely wonderful. Compersion everywhere. One of my partners (A) has expressed some insecurities lately....
I'm willing to bet that "A" felt these insecurities all along, she just didn't have the wherewithal to express them until recently. One of the most frequent poly fallacies (in my view,) especially for newer people, is that people strive for compersion and compromise on the honesty in the process. Honesty is the hallmark of successful poly, not compersion. The only way forward toward success for everyone is honesty. I encourage you to take your focus off of their relationship and how they feel and keep it on how you feel. Has everything been hunky dory for you all along?
 
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