One relationship breaks up while the other breaks down

Token2

Member
A long read...

As laid out in my posting history I have a long-term nesting partner and HAD a boyfriend (the Surfer) of a couple of years who just got his cancer removed.

For those familiar with my journey, he had prostate surgery about 3 weeks ago, and while I knew we were winding our sexual relationship down I had thought we were on the journey just a little longer, that I'd help sexually rehabilitate him and then we'd de-esculate and he'd go find the One aka Couchgirl (someone to sit and watch tv with at the end of everyday)...

Anyway whilst we might only see eachother once a week due to distance I had gone to appointments with him, helped him work out what treatment he wanted to do. The days immediately after the surgery he was sending me the unpleasant pics of his scar, catheter in penis etc and then clearly went through an awful week where he was suffering, didn't want visitors - I respected this, the texts died down and never ramped up... We'd talk on the phone every 2 or 3 days, I stayed proactively messaging him.

But during the week he was really suffering I was up his way on other business and asked please let me help in some way, I didn't have to see him, just walk the dog, anything. I respected that he didn't want this but emotionally it really threw me. I was in deep grief for his suffering/because my way of coping in tough times is to help/grieving for the possible end of our sex life due to side effects and I was really really sad and troubled.

I'd been fighting a bit with my nesting partner before this as we were both going through a stressful time with work but it felt to me too like he (nesting partner) wasn't able to be there for me emotionally at a time I really needed him. A learning curve maybe as this is our 1st poly experience, maybe he can't and I shouldn't have expected he could.

But the result was despite having 2 men in my life I don't think I'd felt so alone and on my own as that week.

Then the week after I had been exposed to covid so chose to stay away.

So then 2 days ago I finally get to see the boyfriend, he's way more mobile and well than I expected, and we only had an hour we could talk privately.

Whilst not showing any signs of things being amiss while we sat together, basically it came out that he felt he was going to be fine sexually and our sex life was over because there was never going to be a future with me.

This is all stuff gone over in past posts so it was no shock, but he didn't seem to hear me when I said all I really wanted was 1 full night together which we hadn't done for a really long time and a conscious goodbye followed by some no contact... I can't force him so of course I have to accept that is his stance but I bring this up because it just felt to me like he didn't believe I meant it (no contact) and he thought I was trying to string it all along, when actually he may have made his mind up about this in that dark week but it was new to me (although on the cards).

I was calm and accepting at the time, have only really cried a couple of tears since and generally I think hurt so much before that I can just see it's good for us to be over. I don't want to be with anyone who can take someone on that journey, complete with horrific photos and then cut them out completely.

We both want to retain the friendship which along with sex was our first dynamic but it's not healthy for me to loiter around checking in on him when he has no capacity to care for me.

Neither of us has messaged the other since, the norm would be me reaching out. I feel like I could be ghosting him but what does that say about him and his communication...

Because he didn't seem to hear me say no contact I kind of want to show him I really can and - would have done it if he gave us that goodbye - but I wonder if it's right to not say something to acknowledge I'm not ghosting I'm helping create the space he clearly wants...

But then if I communicate that I feel like I'd like to let him know how badly he hurt me by cutting me out. Not hurt me 2 days ago but 2 weeks ago. I haven't hurt that badly in years.

And then I just think I'd rather let go and come back to that conversation later when time has passed, he might be more open to explaining what has gone on for him, and I'd be less raw... although I'm not actually hurting any more just the love has died down.

I have so much space and compassion for his cancer journey, the surgery means his dick has shrunk, maybe he wants me to remember him in his prime.

The words he said... could have been said with more thought and he's not got a great EQ - but in there I felt he could have said - I'm content with you so you hold me back from pursuing couchgirl... in between the lines... He did openly say he loved me which he had stopped saying once we became more than friends...

Anyway that's the surfer saga...
- is it OK to just leave it there or should I message?
- if I do should I unpack a little of the angst I didn't share (maybe not because he's gone through a lot)? I do want us to be real friends, it will need to come out at sometime.


The plus of all of this is I did not want to abandon the surfer and technically I didn't...

Onto the nesting partner...

Things aren't good with us, we both set eachother off.

He seems to be triggered by any talk of me finding a new boyfriend. I'm not in a rush but I'm not going to 'go back into the box'.

I realise now while in the beginning he liked me unpacking my stuff with the Surfer with him, as it became more than just talk about him (surfer) being emotionally unavailable he (nesting partner) became uncomfortable or unable to be a support for me.

He did want me to bail out once we knew cancer was a possibility.

The surfer's ex has been back in the picture (as a friend but they/we have baggage) when I made food to bring on Tuesday my nesting partner I guess jokingly said my food would be worse than hers, and he (NP) maybe she's got something to do with him making the break... which is a possibility but also something that doesn't need re-enforcing. He's said it twice, I don't see that as being helpful, if it's the case for them so be it...

At the same time as being combative with me, NP comes and physically spends time near me, which I find a bit stifling. But also see it's a move for connection.

I think we're both a bit confused right now, I don't think we've been this close to breaking up in years. We're still a long way from that but if we don't find ways to repair it could happen.

I literally feel like I had to really work at getting the small amount of compassion I've seen come from him. It didn't last long either...

He clearly resents that I'm not wanting to go back to monoamory, I'm not gagging to go solo dating but the weekly dates and other relationship gave me space to explore myself and I grieved losing that in my week/10 days of sorrow.

I'm about to take up some new hobbies, and will make time to 'do me' which should help.

My nesting partner first introduced the concept we try poly when he had a crush, it's just I got to properly enact it long-term first.

We live in a non-metropolitan area and I am not sure we could find a poly friendly therapist if we took that route.

When we fight he often brings up what he let's me do etc... I recently let a few friends know I was poly. I worry if we do break up or take a break people will blame us being open when in fact it's more that we're struggling to be kind to eachother.

I will be honest - I looked at him through new eyes when I saw he couldn't or wouldn't be there for me when I needed him.

I don't have any specific questions regarding our tension but would appreciate advice.
 
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Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Surfer had prostate surgery about 3 weeks ago, and while I knew we were winding our sexual relationship down, I had thought we'd be on the journey just a little longer. I'd help sexually rehabilitate him and then we'd de-escalate and he'd go find the One, aka Couchgirl.

Anyway, whilst we only saw each other once a week, I had gone to appointments with him and helped him work out what treatment he wanted to do. In the days immediately after surgery, he sent me unpleasant pics of his scar, catheter, etc. Then he went through an awful week... didn't want visitors. I respected this. The texts died down and never ramped up... We'd talk on the phone every 2 or 3 days. I kept proactively messaging him.

But during the week he was really suffering I was up his way and asked him to let me help. I didn't have to see him. I could just walk the dog, anything. I respected that he didn't want this, but emotionally it really threw me. I was in deep grief. My way of coping in tough times is to help. I was grieving for the possible end of our sex life. I was really sad and troubled.

I'd been fighting a bit with Nesting Partner before this. We were both going through a stressful time at work. But it felt to me like NP wasn't able to be there for me emotionally at a time I really needed him. Maybe it was a learning curve, as this is our 1st poly experience, or maybe he just can't.

The result was, despite having 2 men in my life, I'd never felt so alone as I did that week.

2 days ago I finally got to see Surfer. He was much more mobile and well than I'd expected. We only had an hour to talk. It came out that he felt he was going to be fine sexually. He said our sex life was over. There was never going to be a future for us.

This was no shock, but he didn't seem to hear me when I said all I really wanted was 1 full night together, a conscious goodbye, followed by no contact. I have to accept that this is his stance, but it felt like he didn't believe I meant it (no contact) and that he thought I was trying to string it along.

I was calm and accepting. I have only cried a couple of tears since. Generally, I think I was hurting so much earlier, that now I can see it's good for us to be over. I don't want to be with anyone who can take someone on that journey, complete with horrific photos, and then cut them out completely.

We both want to retain the friendship. But it's not healthy for me to loiter around checking in on him when he has no capacity to care for me.

Neither of us has messaged the other since. The norm would be me reaching out. I'm afraid he might think I am ghosting him. But what does that say about his communication abilities?

Because he didn't seem to hear me say "no contact," I want to show him I really can and would have done this if he let us have that goodbye. But I wonder if it's right to not say something to acknowledge I'm not ghosting, I'm helping create the space he clearly wants... But then if I communicate that, I'd like to let him know how badly he hurt me by cutting me out 2 weeks ago.

I think I'd rather let go and come back to that conversation later. When more time has passed, he might be more open to explaining what has gone on for him, and I'd be less raw... I'm not actually hurting anymore, but the love has died down.

The surgery made his dick shrink. Maybe he wants me to remember him in his prime.

The words he said... could have been said with more thought. He doesn't have a great EQ. I think he could have said, "I'm content with you, so you hold me back from pursuing Couchgirl."

He did openly say he loved me, which he had stopped saying once we became more than friends..

- Is it OK to just leave it there or should I message him?
- If I do, should I unpack a little of the angst I didn't share? I want us to be real friends. It will need to come out sometime.
I'm sorry you went through this. I think his cancer scare has made him rethink his priorities. He wants a real nesting partner of his own now, not half time from a poly woman. I'm sure you're a great person and mean well, but from here, it does seem that his refusal to ever message or call you first means, "Girl, he's just not that into you," as he was before. I'd recommend letting things lie, take your space and go no contact for 40 days. What he thinks about you ghosting or not is his business, not yours.

Let go and focus on what's going on with NP...
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Onto the nesting partner...
Things aren't good with us. We are setting each other off.

He seems to be triggered by any talk of me finding a new boyfriend. I'm not in a rush, but I'm not going to 'go back into the box,' either.

I realise now that while in the beginning, NP liked me unpacking my stuff with Surfer with him, as it became more than just talk about Surfer being emotionally unavailable, NP became uncomfortable with or unable to support me.

Surfer's ex has been back in the picture (as a friend). When I made food to bring to Surfer, NP jokingly said my food would be worse than hers. He also said maybe she's got something to do with Surfer making the break. He's said this twice. I don't see that as being helpful. If that's the case for them, so be it.

While being combative with me, NP comes and physically spends time near me. I find this a bit stifling, but also see it as a move for connection.

I don't think we've been this close to breaking up in years. We're still a long way from that, but if we don't find ways to repair things, it could happen.

I had to really work to get the small amount of compassion I've gotten from him. It didn't last long, either.

He clearly resents that I don't want to go back to monoamory. I'm not gagging to solo date, but the weekly dates in my other relationship gave me space to explore myself. I grieve losing that.

I'm about to take up some new hobbies, and will make time to 'do me,' which should help.

NP first introduced the concept of poly when he had a crush. But I got to properly enact it first.

We live in a non-metropolitan area and I am not sure we could find a poly friendly therapist.

When we fight, he often brings up what he 'lets me do.'

I recently let a few friends know I was poly. I worry that if we do break up, or take a break, people will blame it on us being open, when in fact it's more that we're struggling to be kind to each other.

I looked at him through new eyes when I saw he couldn't or wouldn't be there for me when I needed him.

It seems like NP only wanted to hear about Surfer when Surfer was being emotionally unavailable. Maybe he resents you helping Surfer when he was ill. Now that Surfer is recovering, NP doesn't want to be your support system. And this is common. One's partner is not expected to support one when we are having trouble with another partner. Maybe there is one irl friend you have with whom you could vent your troubles.

If they think you and NP are having trouble merely because you two are now practicing poly, you could explain the details (miscommunication, work stress, etc.). If they insist on only blaming poly, it wouldn't surprise me though. Most people do not understand polyamory and how it works.

Keep venting here. We understand!
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Poly

But the result was despite having 2 men in my life I don't think I'd felt so alone and on my own as that week.

The thing with poly is that it is MORE. More, amplified joys when it lands that way. And more amplified lows when it lands that way. Or mixed salad -- one parter great, one partner low.

Sometimes it feels like emotional edge play.

So I sympathize. The low times are not fun.


Surfer

I think you could send 1 text to Surfer.

"We said we both want to retain the friendship. I still want this but I need X months no contact. Some space to be exes in first. Before trying to figure out what "exes and friends" might look like. I'll check in on DATE. If you don't hear from me by then, it's ok to check in and contact me."

And there. He knows you aren't ghosting, and you stick to your no contact thing to give you some breaking up healing space.

Your need to unpack right now? Doesn't have to be with him. His need is to rest from all this cancer stuff. You can unpack with him LATER DOWN.

Find someone neutral you can talk to and unpack with.

Nesting Partner

If this is the first long term relationship where he had to deal with sharing you as a hinge? And then had to figure out how to meta through a big thing like cancer crisis?

Asking him to ALSO be your break up support -- might be too big of an ask. He wasn't dating Surfer. Some basic hugs, maybe.

But I think you really needed to be in a cancer support group. He's not versed in this. Being resentful at him because he's got a personal limit and is not Superman? Is not helpful.

The other problem? He was the one who wanted to open and now he wants to go back to closed? It's natural to talk about it when you've broken up. No other partners are around.

But maybe not THIS MINUTE. You have break up grief to get through first. The break up JUST happened.

He might be all "Finally! I can get some attention!" but now it is YOU having a personal limit. You can only do so much at a time. Your spoons right now are low.

When we fight he often brings up what he let's me do etc...

To me it sounds like he's wanting to hear you appreciate him.
  • With trying to learn to poly.
  • With sticking through this whole cancer thing as best he could on the side
  • And that you know that you've been distracted and maybe not the best partner lately to him. And appreciate his patience on that front.

Rather than get miffed HOW he expresses himself? Give both of you a pass, extend some grace to all.

(That whole "my spouse lets me do things" would have me bristling but in this context is THAT the hill to die on? Sigh. )

Could overlook HOW the communication came out and listen for the feelings behind the words. Try to center him in his experience for a moment. He's going "What about me?"

You might not want to center him or give him some kindness. Because your experience right now is BIG and taking up a lot of room. And you need some kindness too.

You are resentful he couldn't or wouldn't give you the cancer support care you wanted. (I think he simply couldn't. ) But a basic hug and kind words doesn't cost you that much. When you are a hinge, you have to tend to all partners.

And it doesn't change anything really -- if he wants to go back to closed, and you don't, you no longer align. You just haven't had a conversation yet to unpack all that and see if anything can work out or plan a decent break up.

You all have been through SO MUCH lately...

It's important conversation to have with nesting partner -- the current state of the union and where it is going now. But not so urgent it needs to be had TODAY or even this week or month.

You need healing breaking up time.

You seem to value good partings.

he didn't seem to hear me when I said all I really wanted was 1 full night together which we hadn't done for a really long time and a conscious goodbye followed by some no contact...

Could consider that value and think if that's the kind of parting you'd want with NP. I don't know how this will end up with NP, but it if ends up in a parting later down?

Could giving a hug, and kind words of appreciation today help pave the road to that? And is that something you could do?
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Token2,

I'm really sorry to hear that you are having difficulties in both of your relationships. I do think it's okay to send one message to Surfer, telling him that you don't mean to ghost him, but that you are going to go no-contact with him for a few months so as to give him the space that he needs. But I would refrain from telling him how much he has hurt you, the time for that will be later, right now he needs some time to heal in his own way.

As for Nesting Partner, I think at some point you and he are going to have to figure out whether the two of you are still compatible, what with him now wanting monoamory, and you now wanting polyamory. But I'm not sure right this second is the time to do that. First the two of you need to learn to practice some kindness toward each other, in spite of the difficult circumstances.

Those are my initial thoughts.
Sympathetically,
Kevin T.
 

SEASONEDpolyAgain

Active member
I think you aren't being honest with yourself about your motivations here. The things you need are for you, not him.

I agree with Magdyln that he rethought his priorities and it likely felt uncomfortable that you were phrasing some things as being for him, when they weren't. It becomes like gaslighting.

In my experience, whenever someone tries to tell me how they're part of a planned breakup in this way, I get the overwhelming feeling they're trying to give the other person the time and space to realise they're making a mistake. You know a bit like you say "bye" to a child who won't leave the playground and you walk away, hoping you can call their bluff and they'll follow you when the reality of being alone really hits?

The thing is, the person who wants to break up and feels guilty about that desire partakes for totally different (and equally selfish) reasons. So they're not the bad guy. This is why it usually goes sour.
 
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