How responsible am I for my ex's healing process while we're cohabitating? | I'm Poly and So Can You
My bi male/gay male/bi fem (I'm the fem) triad of two years (the works: cohabitation/king bed/meeting ALL the parents) just ended amicably. I'm still living with my ex who is a gay male. We're not continuing intimacy together but we support each other a lot. He is way more upset about the breakup than I and I'm having trouble with how swiftly I want to move on. How do I take steps to start dating again when he's still miserable? There's never been a road map for our relationship, but right now I'm feeling so lost...
First of all, reader, my condolences for the end of your triad, and congratulations on navigating the transition with some semblance of grace, compassion, and mutual respect. Transitioning out of a relationship with a single individual is hard enough, but transitioning out of a multi-person poly configuration is, well, akin to splitting up a family. My heart goes out to you and yours’.
I feel like I need more information about how your triad worked - the dynamics within it - before I give you my best ruling. Were you all single when you decided to date, or did one individual join a preexisting couple? How much experience with open relationships did you all have before getting together? Who initiated the break-up, and what were the circumstances? etc.
That being said, the three pieces of advice that I feel confident giving are as follows:
1. *This first point is based on an assumption I made with the information at hand. Move past it if it doesn't apply.* Keep in mind that connections between folks who were assigned the same gender at birth are often more emotionally intense than folks who were assigned different genders at birth, which in turn can make the ending of those relationships more challenging. There are multiple camps of thought on why this is the case, but in my opinion it’s because we have so many shared experiences built in from the get-go. When you date someone who already has a context for so much of your life...it forges a bond that can feel more complex and powerful in a way that is difficult to articulate. I’m not quite sure how much of your gay male ex’s sorrow is over the loss of the bi male partner versus how much of it is over the loss of the triad as a whole - and it doesn’t sound like conjuring up empathy for your ex is the problem - but this may put his grief in perspective. Also, perhaps past experience is partly to blame. If you and/or your bi male ex have more experience with non-monogamy than your gay male ex, it would make sense as to why he's taking the separation harder than you.
2. Consider ending cohabitation with the gay male ex, even if it’s just temporary. If I were you - and if it’s financially accessible to you - I’d sublet my room out for a few months and live elsewhere to give both you and your ex some breathing room and time to heal. It certainly doesn’t mean that you have to stop seeing one another or supporting one another once you’re no longer sharing a space, but it will release you from much of your sense of obligation for his healing process, and will work to ensure that you’re able to remain in each other’s lives in a healthy and meaningful way in the future.