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Advice – How do I handle my partner’s breakup?

“P1060987” by HH Dusha is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

/u/essentiallyquilled writes on /r/polyamory…

“So, one of my partners broke up with his long term partner quite suddenly. He and I are only a few dates in. He kinda disappeared for a few weeks while he was sorting it. I understood, it sucked because he’d had to cancel a bunch before that so I starting wondering if he was just ghosting me. However, he stayed in touch a bit and in the last week has come back out of the woodwork, apologized for it which I said wasn’t a big deal, etc etc not the issue.

I hadn’t known it had happened, he’d just said something came up and he’d be Mia for awhile. My (ex) meta had reached out to me to see if I knew, and once she found out I didn’t, told me. She said she really didn’t understand why, and asked me to tell her if I ever found out why he’d broken up with her. I have a really good relationship with her, we were aquaintences several years ago and just reconnected when he and I started seeing each other.

She messaged me yesterday to tell me he’d finally explained himself, but it was messy and bad and they weren’t going to be friends after it.

I went out with him yesterday for the first time in weeks, and he had said he didn’t want to get into it over lunch. I told him it was none of my business, I just cared if he was okay, and if he wanted to talk about it I’d listen but, again his relationship with her (or, now lack of it) isn’t mine to know about.

Reason I’m posting, is a couple of my friends are insisting I need to find out why he broke up with her. I firmly believe it’s none of my business, and if he or she never tells me then that’s their decision.

Only bit I’m worried about is if it was a “bad reason”, that she’ll judge me for staying with him, but I don’t know how much I really care about that.

What’s the usual.. Etiquette in these situations, so to speak?”

Photo by Zaksheuskaya on

Dear Essentially Quilled,

I strongly believe that some degree of compartmentalization and separation is necessary for sanity and survival in poly relationships. It might be a time for you to look inward and decide how much of their fallout you want introduced into your relationship with her former and your current partner.

Let’s put all the cards on the table. They’ve been dating for sometime. And you’ve been on a handful of dates with this man. One day, they ended it seemingly out of the random. Your former metamour contacted you to see if you knew anything (because you are friends). She contacted you when she finally got her breakup sorted out. You and your partner got together. You mentioned his recent breakup with your former metamour and friend. And he did not want to talk about it. Now you’re worried that your friend is going to judge you for continuing to date her former paramour, and your other friends are bugging you to dig up why they broke up.

First off, those friends are wrong to bug you about reasons behind any breakup. Reasons for ending a relationship does not directly impact them. It’s not your responsibility to leverage your budding relationship with your partner to disclose anything he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing. This also extends to you. Your friend will tell you if that “bad reason” is pertinent to your relationship (i.e. abusive behavior). Otherwise, chalk it up to just fundamental disconnect and incompatibility.

Photo by on

I think it might also benefit you to redefine your previous relationship with her as your metamour as a new connection as friends. Since the end of their relationship is tumultuous, you are going to have to establish some inner boundaries regarding what you can and cannot disclose with your friend. And similarly with your partner in regards to your friendship with his former paramour.

Third thing for you to consider is that your partner might be to respect your partner’s rate of processing. When my last relationship ended, I waited about a week and a half before I informed each of my partners. I wanted to sit and process my feelings before I felt comfortable enough to express those emotions without getting emotional. So allow him that space so that he can approach you when/if he feels ready. Leave that door open for him, but do not remind him that that door is open.

I’m really sorry to hear that your partner is going through such a rough time. Just take a breath. You’ve done all you can. And you’ve done a great job of handling different responsibilities and managing your relationships. So relax and let time do its work.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

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