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No, I’m not quitting this blog. Don’t worry. But I do want to talk about endings.

My secondary relationship reached its end, officially, just over a week ago. After not seeing each other for several weeks, I finally “called time of death” on our romantic relationship. It just wasn’t working out, and after repeated attempts to save it, I finally just gave up. As I felt I was the only one making any real effort to maintain things (whether true or not, it’s how I felt), I had to come to terms that it was no longer making me happy and to face the reality that if he wasn’t going to make the effort, then maybe he just wasn’t that into the relationship. He was asking me to lower my expectations of the relationship so far that I basically had to stop caring. And that wasn’t fun for me. Apathy is a real turn off.

C’est l’amour.

This ending made me sad, but not upset. I loved this man. I loved being in a relationship with him. He’s beautiful, we had great chemistry and he made me feel sexy (something I don’t often feel, as a mum). He was an escape from my day to day routine, but also not afraid of coming over to my house and helping out with the baby. I saw such potential in that relationship, and had such high hopes for the future. Letting go of that was hard. But in the end it was when I withdrew my emotional investment that I even knew how much I had invested.

The aftermath has left me feeling unsexy and unlovable. My libido is all but gone and I’m putting all my energy into being a mum and into trying to lose a few kilos.

I’ve started weaning my son. He’s doing well. I’m down to one breastfeed per day. He drinks milk from a cup like a champ, so I’m not too worried about that anymore. I admire women who keep going with breastfeeding, but my son doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself that much anymore. I think I realised it was time when he seemed too distracted every time I tried to offer him the bewb. He was still crying if I stopped prematurely, but now he’s stopped that. Now, I give him one long, intensive breast feed in the evening. Soon, I’ll stop offering that. The end is imminent. By the time his Birthday comes along, he’ll be done.

I’m a little sad about it, but hopefully it will  make things easier. I’ll be able to wear a real bra again and go back on normal birth control pills. I won’t have to wear easy access tops and I can even contemplate going back to work, putting my son in childcare. And I won’t have little teeth-shaped bruises on my nipples.

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This is a guest post by reader CT. I met CT through OKCupid back when I was pregnant as he is a fellow polyamorous parent who was happy to offer advice. We have been chatting online for over a year now, and though we have yet to meet in person, I consider him a trusted friend.

Here, he offers his experience and insights on dealing with some of the tougher aspects of being polyamorous.

Published in 2008, Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up attempts to be a simple guide to the not-so-simple subject of navigating a non-monogamous relationship.  It’s been reviewed fairly widely since its publication so rather than a review, I’d like to use Opening Up as a springboard for discussing two topics explored by Taormino – honesty and coming out.

Honesty is an essential ingredient for non-monogamous relationships, and this is a view that Taormino endorses. But Taormino has a particular kind of honesty in mind, and it’s not the “radical honesty” promoted by Brad Blanton. In criticising ‘radical honesty’, Taormino claims it is:

an egotistical and confrontational style of communication. It isn’t fair to or useful to share everything with someone who doesn’t want to hear it, is not ready to hear it, or doesn’t have the skills to process the information.” Opening Up – Chapter 4.

In place of radical honesty, Taormino proposes honesty with kindness and compassionate communication. As one of her interview subjects explains, in a relationship:

There has to be a kind of gravitational pull toward each other. If all of your focus is on yourselves you’re just going to fly off in different directions, and there’s not going to be a relationship. I think a commitment to kindness can be the gravity that keeps you in orbit.” Opening Up – Chapter 4.

However honesty with kindness isn’t just something to practice with one’s partners. It’s also something to be considered when thinking about coming out as non-monogamous.

Coming out earns a whole chapter in Opening Up. Taormino guides readers through the benefits and risks of disclosing one’s non-monogamy, addressing topics such as how best to come out and finding support during this challenging process. Arguably, one of the key messages of this chapter is that being selective in coming out, or not coming out at all, can be a legitimate and valid choice.

Which brings us back to the question of honesty.

If you’ve signed up to radical honesty and not hiding your true self from the world, one can imagine a lot of internal angst being generated by not being ‘out’ to family and friends. But as Taormino’s interview subjects highlight, coming out carries the risk of causing a lot of hurt if not handled carefully.

There is the risk of hurt to oneself through rejection by family, friends and community.  There is the risk that one’s children, partners or family will also be subject to ridicule or ostracism. Finally, there is the risk of hurt to family or friends who may struggle with having their perception of a person or relationship turned upside down.

It’s this last area where I imagine ‘honesty with kindness’ can make a big difference. Both questions of who to come out to and how to have that conversation is something that arguably needs to be done  with not just one’s own welfare in mind, but also with kindness for the recipient.

Who to tell and how has been a big struggle personally, and one that’s been guided by a principle similar to ‘honesty with kindness’. There have been times when it has been tempting to just relieve the weight of secrecy by telling everyone and expecting them to simply  “deal with it”. That temptation has been tempered by a desire not to risk hurting those who really don’t need to know about the openness of my marriage. The decision not to be more openly poly is also, of course, driven by fear of the potential backlash against my family and myself.

And so it is that those who know about my poly lifestyle are mostly new friends made since we opened up, and neither of our families.  Whilst being able to be openly honest with more friends and family is appealing, I think my wife summed up our situation well when she said:

“I like the friends we’ve got, they don’t need to know to be our friends, so why take the risk on telling them?”

Thus, through a combination of kindness and fear, it’s a relatively small circle that knows the nature of our marriage.

And so dear Polymomma readers – I ask you for your experiences in coming out? How “open” are you? How did you weigh up the desire for honesty with the risks and the need for kindness? And what has been the outcome of your decisions?

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