Polyamorous Mom: I Broke Up With My Boyfriend For My Family

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familyI have a husband, partners and a child — this column chronicles new territory for me called polyamory as I figure out how to balance my time and energy between each of my relationships.

When I wrote my first anonymous piece about polyamory, I was in a state of crisis. My new relationship was taking up most of my time: I was neglecting work and family. My husband was accepting of the lifestyle change but skeptical of the way I was going about it. He didn’t trust my boyfriend. He thought he was manipulative.

Somewhere along the way, my boyfriend and I became disconnected. He needed time to process, and I gave it to him. But after several days my frustration the feeling of being in the dark became too much to bear, so I texted him. I pressed the subject.

He assured me I did nothing to upset him, he just recognized that my having a child and his devotion to work and would make it too hard for him to manage a relationship. He stated he wanted to still hang out in public as friends, but being around my toddler made him too uncomfortable—and he could sense my discomfort around his dog, too (I have nothing against dogs in general, but his dog is extremely loud and boisterous).

Even though I understood, I responded defensively, accusing him of using his “time to think” as a way to manipulate me. He didn’t offer an apology, or ask why I felt that way, or respond in any way that I thought a normal human being would. He kind of brushed it off, and suddenly I questioned whether he could have empathy for someone at all.

This all happened shortly before our family vacation. My husband, son and I drove in the rain to our lakeside destination, jamming to the Macklemore CD we’d just purchased. He fell asleep in the back seat, I held hands with my husband. On the surface, things seemed smooth. In my mind, I was still reeling from my pseudo-breakup.

When I was ready, my husband was willing to talk about it with me. He never once veered into the land of “I told you so’s.” He still believes I’m polyamorous, and I do too. He may be as well, but he’s not ready to explore that for himself yet.

The next day, as the sun came out, I busied myself. We walked, swam, talked to people. I played board games with my husband. I read a book by one of my favorite writers that night. I felt calm.

But when we got home, I opened the floodgates again by initiating a casual conversation with the boyfriend via text. I’ll admit, I was trying to see if he would act like nothing happened, or if he would question why I was contacting him at all. He responded casually and happily. I wasn’t sure what to make of that.

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