This is the end. How did this happen?

I'm sorry to hear things worked out the way they did, but I'm glad to hear you'd dealing with it well.

I agree with BoringGuy, he sounds more like a serial monogamist than polyamorous. Let him be her problem now. Let her pay his bills and tuition.

It's times like these that I'm somewhat relieved polyamory hasn't made it in to the mainstream. Underhanded perhaps, and sets progress back... but now you can play the "he cheated on me card" as far as the legal system goes. Sure, it's not literally cheating; he told you what was going on and you agreed to it. But he violated the terms of your agreement, which is what cheating ultimately amounts to.

You were supporting him financially on the assumption that he would eventually use your support to get a higher paying job and contribute more to the household finances. You basically made an investment in him.

Leaf should be scared. He's giving up financial security. He's giving up an easy way to test new girlfriends. Now he'll have to sneak around behind her back the way everyone else does.

I almost feel sorry for this girl. Almost, but not actually. She brought it on herself, cowgirl all the way. She's in for a harsh wake-up when he does the same thing to her in a few years. But she'll have to excuse me for misplacing my sympathy a few miles below the Earth's crust.

I've never understood people who take people away from their partners. How do they not see that it's only a matter of time before they're on the other end of the cycle??
You were supporting him financially on the assumption that he would eventually use your support to get a higher paying job and contribute more to the household finances. You basically made an investment in him.

IIRC, the OP mentioned that he helped put her through school, so if it ever came down to who "invested" in the other, it would probably be a wash.

But all that aside - it's shitty when we find that something we thought was one way turns out to be a very different way. Here you are (talking to the OP now), cruising along, "practicing" polyamorous relationship(s), dealing with your issues, owning your own baggage, supporting your partner(s) through thick and thin... and the one you live with, whom you've known the longest, whom you consider your family & closest buddy and believe is the one person who has your back no matter what - pulls the rug out from under you like this. I am SURE that a year or two or five from now you'll say to yourself, "What was I thinking? How could I have allowed myself to become in that situation?" and you'll realize you're much better off. You sound like you're starting down that road already. But like others have said, there will be some serious short-term suckage; hopefully you come out of it a better person (not that there's anything wrong with you now).
Newbie question: what does "cowgirl" mean in poly parlance? (Having just moved west of the Mississippi for the first time in five decades, I'm actually having fun wearing boots and playing at being a cowgirl, but if it's got some weird negative connotation, that would be good to know.)

And hey, to the OP: The only thing that's worse than someone hurting you is allowing someone to continue to hurt you. Good for you for holding your boundaries and making healthful, loving choices for yourself.
cowgirl/boy is someone who gets involved with a person in a poly relationship who really wants that person to dump their other partner(s) and be monogamous with them.

It derives from the way a cowboy's job involves roping off a cow and separating it from the herd.

There is a whole section on here with a glossary of terms.
Thanks, BG! I'm glad I didn't use that in my user name--I came very close! For me, it's a term that means I'm joyfully self-sufficient and kicking up my heels after several decades of stressful and not very joyful monogamy. But I'm glad to know not to toss it around in poly circles!
the hardest part may be not letting him back

Because both he and his girlfriend are not worth the trouble of maintaining a close relationship with. It seems strange that neither of them understands that their behavior is exhibiting classic signs that they only care about their own feelings. It is something that monogamists have a hard time understanding because in their eyes, they believe they care about their own feelings and their partners. To be honest, without the introduction of a poly-like relationship they would likely never know that they're showing tendencies to only be worried about their own feelings. Most people who truly are incapable of being concerned with how their behavior affects others become extremely adept at manipulation and so maintaining emotional control may keep them in denial of the truth, that deep down they are only concerned with how they feel, but not their spouse.

What they did was wrong. I am sorry you have to go through this.

If she was capable of genuinely caring about others' feelings, she would know that she should not offer him or you the choice to choose. She should bow out, out of respect for both him and you if she honestly cannot handle non-monogamy. The way she went about it is a sign that she likely does not care about his emotional health.

I normally refrain from giving advice like this where I attempt to get into the minds of others because I believe it is unfair and you should not be taking advice from people online in regards to your relationship and what you should do. It is impossible to present the whole story, as it would be a novel.

But I do feel like you should know that a person who genuinely cares about how their behavior affects others (more than only caring about others when it directly affects them) they do not treat other human beings the way they treated you. If she honestly cared about the boy that left you, she would not have forced him to choose between her and you..

She may not be uncaring, but if she isn't then she is just plain immature and/or ignorant. And it is too bad your partner was fooled by her manipulation or ignorance because chances are she waited to give the ultimatum until she was confident that he could be wrapped up enough to choose her.

When someone uses that criteria to give the ultimatum (waits until they believe issuing ultimatum will result in them getting what they want) it is better described as manipulative controlling behavior. It has less to do with her being tormented by whatever the occurrence she is putting her foot down against, and more to do with her being out to get the most out of others regardless of how it affects the people she is taking from.

Yes, the excitement from new relationships can blind people. But he should know this, and while it can be an acceptable mistake to make once, I would be not allow him back into your life the second time. You deserve close relationships with people who genuinely care about your feelings when you are a responsible friend. If you are responsible with your honest feelings and behave as one does who genuinely cares about other's feelings, you deserve close relationships and intimate friendships with those whom recognize what you have to offer.

I do not believe that he and she truly know themselves, and people like that require an angel-like or sainthood levels of consciousness if you are trying include them in your life completely without experiencing pain that may break your spirit. Those who only have an ordinary understanding of LOVE, are very painful people to teach a more complete understanding.

Please take my words with a grain of salt, because only you can be the best guide in your life, but being the best guide to yourself requires a true understanding. I could read a thousand page volume on just the last ten years of your life and still not have a adequate understanding. Not to the point where you should take my advice. So please do what you know is right, and not what I think may be the right thing to do
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

I just want to say thank you again to every single person who posted replies to my threads and helped me get through this. You each offered a unique perspective that really helped me keep my wits about me and not get lost in my emotions.

It has been a little more than a week since Leaf broke it off with me. He really has no idea what to do next though. He didn't have a plan for after the break up at all. He makes about $300/ month right now working part time. I asked if he intended to move in with Flower - he says he doesn't know, never asked her about that. He spent three nights with her after he dumped me and when he came back he still didn't have an answer. So I told him he has until Oct 31 to figure it out. He's either paying 50% starting on Nov 1 or his stuff will be on the front lawn and the locks changed. I already have a good friend who wants to move in with me so he's really in my way right now. I have my appointment at the bank already to get our money separated and begin the divorce process - because yes, this is really more like a divorce than a break up. Frankly, in a financial sense this is going to be the best thing that ever happened to me - and maybe in some other ways too.

Leaf still wants to be friends. :confused: BEST friends, he says. We will still spend lots of time together and love each other as friends. I'm not gonna lie. I like the idea of still hanging out with him and having him in my life even if he and I aren't a couple. But I am approaching that with caution and not getting my hopes up too much. I can't imagine his new girlfriend being okay with him having a close relationship with me. She wanted his heart to not be "divided" - that is what she asked for. But it still is divided. He still loves me. He's still attracted to me. The more he and I hang out I suspect, the more she will restrict our relationship. I absolutely will NOT stand for that though. Only Leaf and I should have control over our relationship. I never made rules for the two of them and I won't live under her rule. He has made it clear he really doesn't want to lose me entirely and if she ever asked him to cut me out he would say no. But I will cut myself out if she starts trying to control our relationship and he can suffer the consequences of his choice. I refuse to let him walk all over me to please her. I am not a doormat. Even as friends I will expect certain things of him and if my needs are not met in our friendship then he will be on the receiving end of a break up next time. And I mean that.

I should clarify - Flower actually didn't ask him to break up with me ever. Flower said she couldn't continue in that kind of relationship. She bowed out, although very reluctantly and probably hinting that she wished she didn't have to. Maybe that was a manipulative way of getting what she wanted without looking like the bad guy. It was entirely Leaf's decision to keep her from leaving by doing what he saw as the only solution - dumping me. I asked him once if he could just be her friend and he said it felt like it should be more. When he told her he would do whatever it takes to be with her she was, understandably, very happy. So once he made the decision himself to dump me it proved to her that she should stay with him.

Humorous aside: Flower's best friend and roommate is going through a breakup right now with a man who cheated on her. Leaf mentioned this to me and said that parallels in the two situations are making it really hard for Flower to trust him right now. :eek: SERIOUSLY!! You think?!?!?!

Leaf says Flower feels very insecure about their relationship and she's scared of getting hurt. Breaking up with me was his way of making her feel better about her insecurities. I pointed out the flaw in this logic to him: you didn't just prove to her that you will never hurt her. In fact quite the opposite. You proved that you can leave your partner of nearly 10 years (someone you still claim to love) for the "other woman" you have known for six weeks. I think that would make me feel even more insecure if I were her. I sure wasn't secure in my relationship with him. But she has probably convinced herself that he loves her more than he ever loved me. I know that's not true though. Once upon a time he loved me with as much passion and reckless abandon as he loves her with right now. It's only a matter of time.

They have gone away together for the weekend again. This time to the wedding of one of Flower's friends. He has promised to talk with her about their relationship and what she expects from him now on this trip and come back with some answers for me.

I suspect as more of the details come to light and he figures out exactly what he is choosing it will sink in. He will have to compromise some parts of himself to be with her. He and I both fundamentally believe that love should not be restricted. You can't control who you love and I would never ask someone I care about to pretend they don't love someone or ignore their feelings to prove their love for me. Freedom in love was central in our relationship. I know he still believes in that. He says he can be flexible on those beliefs though.

He barely talked with Flower at all about what she wants from a relationship with him and what her boundaries are. He made a very rash decision. He says he is willing to bend on his ideals in order to be with her - but how far and for how long? It's easy to say you can change for someone, but in practice it's a lot harder. He actually had the balls to say to me that he hopes one day I will love someone so much that I would do anything for them - I actually had to restrain myself from punching him in the face for that one. I am not a violent person.

Meanwhile I am moving on with my life. I have a fantastic group of friends and family who are helping to distract me and lift me up (I include you message board friends in this group). Even Leaf's own mother told me she is sorry and that her son is a "fucking asshole." I am getting my ducks in a row money-wise. Like I mentioned already, I have a very close friend who wants to move in with me when Leaf gets out of my house. I am glad I won't have to be alone all the time. I am not waiting for Leaf. I already had a casual relationship started with another man before Leaf and I fell apart. I'm not jumping into another serious relationship with him, but I do enjoy spending time with him and I'm excited to get to know him better.

I wish only the best for Leaf and Flower, but I can already see some serious relationship issues that the two of them will have to overcome. I don't hope they will fail, but I honestly don't see it working out for them. Maybe I'm wrong, but I know Leaf - he will bend over backwards and give her the moon if he has to... for a while. But he has a selfish streak in him and a stubborn attitude when dealing with other's emotions. I put up with this for at least the last five years of our relationship - maybe she will too.

I think I've come full circle now. From thinking I couldn't live without him - to thinking I will be better off without him. If Leaf ever does want to come back to me I will have to think really hard about it. He says after he and Flower are together for a while and on more solid ground that he would like to be Poly again. At which point he and I could be together again. I really doubt that will ever happen. I think I would take him back if he and Flower break up, but I could never trust him to be the hinge in a V with Flower and I. I don't think he has what it takes to be a hinge in ANY relationship, but especially after what the two of them have done to me - it will never happen. And Leaf and I will NEVER join our finances again if we get back together. I don't think I'll ever do that again with anybody. Leaf would have a very long way to go to regain my trust, and my expectations of him would be higher than he is used to.

This has been a fantastic learning experience for me. My strength of mind and ability to maintain an inner calm are being tested to their limits right now and I am succeeding (most of the time). I have always been a confident, independent, and strong person - that was kind of shaken lately but it's coming back to me full force. I am thinking about MY future, not OUR future - and it looks bright for me. I have been set free. I should have done it myself, but I couldn't. I might have stayed in that leeching relationship for the rest of my life if this hadn't happened. I guess I really should be thanking the two of them. :D

Thank you all SOOOO much. Keep doing what you do. You folks have a lot of wisdom and compassion to share. I can never thank you enough.
NovemberRain has suggested that after a breakup have no contact for 40 days. No calls, texting, visits. And then, after that, see if beginning a friendship is a good idea. A little over a month is a nice time frame to get some perspective, do some thinking, let pain and resentment subside. I tried it with a recent breakup and it did help immensely.

Best of luck to you! Sounds like the ex will sooner or later find he let a good thing go with you.
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I too suggest some space, not to try jump into being best friends right away. My ex is just about my best friend, but after we broke up he did a lot of traveling and was in and out of town, so we had intermittent contact for a few months. I think regular breaks from spending too much time together helped a lot with our friendship being able to continue. It's important to have the space to be able to think clearly and make sure you don't continue poor relationship dynamics just out of habit.
Newbie question: what does "cowgirl" mean in poly parlance?

The term I have heard, and prefer, is "couple cracker." It's not limited to polyamory; it relates to anyone who sees the love between two people (no matter how many people they are each involved with) and horns in with inappropriate demands deriving from their acquisition lust and desire to nail down the relationship before it has even begun to sprout. Some of them want what the loving others have and think they can acquire that by acquiring one of the partners. This is covetousness.

Six weeks is not a relationship. Six weeks is a fever.

You noted that she didn't demand the breakup--not that demands are necessary to achieve that end. It sounds to me like Leaf got way in over his head.

Do yourself a favor, dear LIL: go cold turkey on Leaf for six weeks. Give yourself six more weeks after that, and prepare to embark on letting your true self attract someone more worthy of all you have invested in that relationship.

I’d predict him getting tired of his new squeeze's demands and insecurities. He is totally within his rights to choose someone less secure and challenging; you are totally within yours to be who you are.

One last thing. At the beginning of this thread you said you thought that you all were getting it right but your hopes were dashed. Six weeks isn’t enough time to determine that. Not even if the dyad partners have a very clear set of boundaries and expectations laid out concretely. That is not likely IMO given that you said that Leaf is “not good with words” but “you are.”

Can you identify in your own heart/mind what it was about this relationship that gave you such hope and excitement? Was it really about Leaf? Or was his involvement with Flower something that was giving YOU indirect access to something YOU need? Or was it maybe him and you sharing excitement in a long-term relationship, though indirectly?

Identifying things like that are important so that you can engineer your next relationship(s) in line with what you learned about yourself.

I am writing quickly and hope that this comes across with the warmth, affection, and support I am feeling.
I think I've come full circle now. From thinking I couldn't live without him - to thinking I will be better off without him. If Leaf ever does want to come back to me I will have to think really hard about it.

My unsolicited advice is don't get back together with him. Anyone willing to throw away 10 years after 6 fluffy weeks is unlikely to ever get his priorities straight. That's not even considering the practicality of leaving with no means to support himself.

He says after he and Flower are together for a while and on more solid ground that he would like to be Poly again.

Yeah. Right. Good luck with that, buddy. What on Earth makes him think she'll be any more willing to try Poly after she's got him locked in?

I think I would take him back if he and Flower break up, but I could never trust him to be the hinge in a V with Flower and I. I don't think he has what it takes to be a hinge in ANY relationship, but especially after what the two of them have done to me - it will never happen.

This baffles me. To put it bluntly, he threw you away for some Shiny New Thing. He completely disregarded your love and loyalty. In a nutshell, he does NOT deserve you.

He simply does not how to be in a polyamorous relationship. If they break up and you take him back, what's to stop him from doing it all over again next time he meets some other mono chick who doesn't want to share? Are you really going to allow yourself to be treated like that?