The one that got away : was breaking up a good idea?

Pickle

New member
Hi all, I am new, and you all are so insightful I thought I'd take the plunge on this forum, since I haven't been able to figure this out myself for a month now.
I've been with my boyfriend J for almost five years, and from my 37 yo perspective he's the love of my life. The first year of our relationship was 100% rainbows. Then we had to go through a 1 year LDR without seeing each other at all. He changed a lot while he was away (almost in total isolation) and after that, we had many issues to work through. We have only recently started to climb out of a deep hole of accumulated insecurities and communication wounds.
We were in an open relationship for the first two years; he'd tried poly before but unsuccessfully (his partners only ever wanted poly for themselves); I had never tried poly myself. When we worked through our issues we became mono for a while, and recently we've been opening up again. He has a really close relationship with a girl in California, but they don't see each other much at all.

So this summer I met this guy B, we hit it off so so so much! Unfortunately, B is in a DADT open relationship with his girlfriend of 2 years, even if he always wanted to be poly himself but never found anyone who could do it.

I got to work immediately. I talked to my boyfriend for many many hours trying to chart how we could make this work, he's on board, I read More than two, worked through some of my issues. Meanwhile, although B and I have become very close for the past 3 months or so since we started seeing each other, I still haven't met his friends of family, and feel totally removed from the rest of his life, fenced off by this glass bubble I can't help but feeling. I only ever saw him at his house or at the park, sometimes with my friends, but never with his. Plus, even if he is very affectionate and attentive in person, when we are not together I don't get many signs of life from him. I wish he'd ping me when he's happy to let me know he's thinking of me when I'm not around, but he explained that as a musician who's been touring for the last 15 years he just got too exhausted by all the tending-to-an-absent-lover and prefers living his relationships in person only. Additionally, even if we are on the exact same wavelength on everything else, when I try to tell him how I feel he gets really defensive, and that upsets me very much since I've been putting so much effort in trying to communicate. I read books about it and listened to podcasts about communications, mapped my thoughts out, tried to understand his perspective and be gentle when talking to him.

I told him that I needed to feel secure in this relationship and that I can't do that if he's fencing me off, all the while not being very good at giving me attention remotely, and that I just can't see how things can evolve. He seems to not understand why I broke it off so soon after only a couple of months. He wanted to see how things go with me before making any big decisions that would unlock a new future for us, like breaking up with his mono girlfriend. He doesn't want to do that only to be the new guy trying to make things work with a girl already coupled up in a long term relationship that is now going super well.

I'm really heartbroken. Was I too rash? Was there any chance this could have worked? Is he a coward? Did I sabotage it? What questions should I ask myself? Thank you so much in advance for your wisdom!
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
I'm sorry you struggle. I hope you feel better for airing out.

I don't know if it helps you to look at your list like bullet points.

B is in a DADT open relationship with his girlfriend of 2 years
  • His GF may/may not be on board. (Like really DADT? Or him saying that it is DADT?)
  • You other BF is on board with you poly dating other people.
3 months in...
  • you feel fenced off by this DADT glass bubble
    • you only see him at his house or the park
    • you only see him with your friends
    • haven't met any of his friends or family
    • you feel totally removed from the rest of his life
  • affectionate in person, but no signs of life when not together
    • Prefers "living his relationships in person only."
    • won't ping/text you when he's away.
    • You don't get the level of attention you need when apart
  • Gets defensive if you bring up your concerns
  • Bottom line: You don't get enough out of this relationship to feel secure in it or make it worth your while.
CONCLUSION
  • You broke up. This isn't working for you. (Sounds fine to me. Why keep putting energy into something meh for you?)
  • He doesn't get why. (Not your problem.)
If you already tried to raise concerns? Then he responded/reacted by getting defensive, didn't want to listen, or didn't want to work anything out?

It's ok for you to decide to stop investing here.

Where is surprise for him?

He wanted to see how things go with me before making any big decisions that would unlock a new future for us, like breaking up with his mono girlfriend.

I could be wrong but it kinda sounds like he keeps the other GF around for "back up plan" while seeking "better" elsewhere.

He doesn't want to do that only to be the new guy trying to make things work with a girl already coupled up in a long term relationship that is now going super well.

I don't understand. Was his thinking that you and him would run off into the sunset and leave the other partners behind? Does he understand what poly means?

To be honest? It doesn't sound like you were really a match. But you are still healing from the break up and doing the "looking back" kind of review.

Like "Why this? Why that?"

It's ok to do, if it helps you move forward and make new decisions about vetting potentials.

But I don't think it means you should get back together. It didn't sound esp compatible.

He wants something different than what you want. That's all.

I think it's easier to break up earlier before deep emotional attachments happen. In the early NRE days it's all best behavior right? If what he offers you for "his best offer" that he can give you is actually turning out kinda "meh offer" for you? The people might be decent people, but just not compatible.

Accepting things don't line up that great and moving on seems better to me than hanging around hoping it will change. I think you did the right thing for you in bowing out.

Galagirl
 
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AlwaysGrowing

Well-known member
You're not wrong if you only want relationships that include entangled lives. He's not willing/able to give that to you.

If you can come to terms with having a satellite relationship, like one that is "on" when you're together but "off " when you're apart... then you could give it more time.

Don't go back, thinking he'll fall for you and dump mono gf. Because he might never break up with her then you're still in a satellite relationship. Only reconsider if you can accept what he's willing to give.

I had to get a space like that with my boyfriend. I broke up with him when he wasn't able to be a committed, healthy partner that I felt I needed. I finally accepted that he was who he was (painfully - I definitely rushed to take what he would give in the process instead of maintaining space that might have helped. Might not have though, who knows). It has worked out for us since we've both grown closer and enmeshed as much as we can without living together/ extensive legal documents, but it didn't happen until we were both on the same page. No pressuring, no guilt, no secret longing for some other kind of relationship.
 

Pickle

New member
Thank you so much both, you are extremely articulate. It's difficult to grapple with the idea that if I had waited a little more, things might have improved, which is what B is telling me now. I do think, however, that perhaps he doesn't need me to operate the life changes necessary to enable our relationships, so hanging around waiting just felt like giving my power away needlessly.
I feel empowered by your comments.
 

icesong

Moderator
Staff member
I mostly agree with both Gala and AlwaysGrowing. The one thing I'd say, though, is that three months is (IMO) a pretty short amount of time to develop a day-to-day type relationship - if you read my blog a bit you can see what I have *now* with Artist (like AlwaysGrowing and Boy, I would say at this point Artist and I are about as enmeshed as we can be without living together), but six months into that relationship? my exact words were "AA is as AA always is - smoking hot and really caring when we're together and mostly absent otherwise.", and it took us years to really get past that. (Arguably it didn't really happen until pandemic, on some levels, but that's beside the point.)

I'm 100% not saying you should get this guy back - there are definitely times that people are just wrong for each other or not at the right times in their lives to make something work, and from your story I think you and B fall into that category. For one, the way he's linking "whether ya'll are in a relationship" with "whether or not he and his girlfriend should break up", along with "if you weren't already in a serious relationship it'd be more of a possibility" is a pretty strong sign this guy is "polyamorous" in the sense of "not having the courage to be single", along with being a bit of a cowboy.

Was I too rash? Was there any chance this could have worked? Is he a coward? Did I sabotage it? What questions should I ask myself? Thank you so much in advance for your wisdom!
There might have been a chance but I think it'd require him to do a lot of changing that from what you've said, he has no interest in doing. (Whether that's cowardice or comfort with his existing situation? doesn't matter, really). I don't think you sabotaged it, I honestly don't think there's a lot you need to examine about your own actions here because you were *doing* the work in terms of communicating and stretching and growing.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
It's difficult to grapple with the idea that if I had waited a little more, things might have improved, which is what B is telling me now.

Did he list the actual actions he would be taking to help it improve?

Cuz on your side you were doing a lot. Learning about communication and trying to bringing your concerns to his attention respectfully.

I do think, however, that perhaps he doesn't need me to operate the life changes necessary to enable our relationships, so hanging around waiting just felt like giving my power away needlessly.

That's the vibe I got. He's not ready to make actual changes at this time. Waiting around wouldn't be in your best interest.

He is just maybe dealing with break up grief like "But wait.... maybe we can... say it isn't so...."

Not trying to be mean. Just saying that people don't always accept a break up well.

If all he can offer is a satellite "relationship of the present" kind of thing and you want something more than that? Why bang head on wall? It just doesn't line up.

I feel empowered by your comments.

Glad it helped some.

Galagirl
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello Pickle,

What I concluded from your description, is that B is more of an in-person type of guy, whereas you need contact such as texting over the phone. This might sound like a little thing, but it can add up. And there could be other little things, things that make the two of you incompatible. I think you did the right thing in breaking up with him.

Other things he did that I noticed: He didn't introduce you to his friends and family, he totally removed you from the rest of his life, and he got defensive when you tried to tell him how you felt. These are all little things, or not-so-little things, that can add up after awhile. You did the right thing in breaking up with him.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 
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