Transition or End?
by Briana Bliss
Transition or End, that is the question.
Relationships change constantly. It may change because we realize we are not getting out of a relationship what we need or desire. Maybe we are learning more about what makes you go “woo”. Perhaps we have become “comfortable” in our relationship and have let it just steer on autopilot. Whatever the reasons, these transitions are a fact of life.
We transition through all sorts of relationships, partners, co-workers, our relationships with our family and our friends. If a relationship isn’t currently working for what it is, perhaps we can reconfigure it into something that will be mutually beneficial and bring happiness to each others’ lives. What does that look like? How do we change? I try to frame these transitions as a “roll with the flow” kind of deal with communication being the key component.
When we enter new relationships, there is always a transition period. We are giddy and riddled with “NRE” (new relationship energy). We are trying to learn everything that there is to learn about the other person. You are excited and twitterpated. You are consumed with the newness of it all. But… then what?
You have learned some of the things that make a person an exciting and welcomed addition to your life. They have been integrated to the complexities of “you” and things are going well… except that one thing… What about that thing?
Things come up throughout the course of a relationship. Things may rub you the wrong way on occasion. It could be a situational thing that you won’t have to deal with except once every leap year. It could simply be a difference in maturity, desire, communication style, parenting style or maybe it’s about the financial situations that make you a bit uneasy. You like having the person around. There isn’t anything inherently wrong, but there is something that isn’t quite right.
There is an ex of mine who looked great on paper. We started hanging out and things were good. I was infatuated and feeling all the feels. He was good looking and seemed relatively intelligent, however something wasn’t working for me. The feels were fleeting and it made me sad. I wanted it to work so much. As time passed, I finally came to the conclusion that the relationship wouldn’t ever be what I thought it had the potential to be. As I was trying to figure out what the underlying issue was, it struck me, we are not on the same maturity level and we do not communicate the same way. There was nothing “wrong” with him and there was nothing “wrong” with me. It was just a simple truth. When I started to examine if there was a way that I could change my communication style I realized that that wasn’t really a possibility because communication is key. I can’t try and change my entire self for a person. So the next question is, how could I salvage what we had because it was good, without losing it? It’s time to make the transition from partner to friends with a purpose. We can go for long drives and enjoy nature together. We can go to group things together. We don’t have to make our relationship more than what it is. We can cherish what we do have together in a new updated form. Did we break up? Sure. If I see him on the street will I run over and give him a hello and a hug? Absolutely. Do we have a friendship that can be sustained even through communication issues? Absolutely! We didn’t throw the proverbial “baby out with the bathwater”.
There are very few, like three, exes that I have zero interest in ever hearing about, talking to or seeing ever again. However with over a decade of polyamory under my belt, lots of dating and lots of relationships, I would say that transitioning has helped me keep many people in my life, without the pressure of it being what it’s not. In fact, many of these so-called “exes” have become such great friends.
Every day life is about choices. If you are in a relationship or many relationships, then you choose to do that. You wake up every day and make that choice whether you recognize it for what it is or not. You stay in relationships because you consciously make the choice to stay. On the opposite side, you may be in an autopilot relationship and you are staying because it is easy. No one gets hurt that way right? I call your bluff if that is what you think.
Interestingly enough, recently I have really come to realize that time can also heal many things. I have an ex that has re-entered my life. We have done this a couple of times now. Something big happens that we cannot recover from right away (believe it or not way back in the day it was my jealousy go figure) and we break up. Time goes by. We run into each other at a gathering, usually karaoke, we hug and kiss each other like nothing ever happened. We just do some things really, really well. The things that usually don’t work as great make these pauses in our relationship a great “absence makes the heart grow fonder” type of thing and we are in love all over again. Sometimes a break can breathe new life and energy into a relationship and cause a re-birth.
Another thing that happened to me this past week brought in the idea that sometimes timing is everything. People change with time. Schedules change, availability for relationships change, situations change. Here is an example.
I happened to be invited to a wedding that someone I had gone out with on one date two years ago happened to be going to as well. We were both going stag. When we noticed the others’ “me and no plus one” it seemed like a great idea to ask him to go. I did, we went and had an absolutely lovely time. When we went out on that date two years ago, I was in a completely different space in my life. We were both very busy people (and still are) so we never made anything out of it. However, knowing what limited time is available, I did have the courage to ask him out again. He said that he would love to. Lucky me (and him)! Maybe two people can come back together at a later time because the timing back then wasn’t as good as the timing is now. All I know is that though we still don’t have time for another partner, there is occasionally time to hang out and enjoy one another’s company.
Sometimes, however, a complete break and separation is necessary because of whatever circumstances you are in. It is always okay to go.
I am going to wrap this up with a word of caution: Portland is a very small world if you are in the polyamory dating scene. Chances are you are going to date someone who has or is dating your ex or your partner’s ex. Oh and lest we forget all the metas you will have. Portland is a “small” town when it comes to this. If you have ended on a bad note, most likely the telephone game will start and everyone in the “scene” will know of your reputation and the inaccuracies of the telephone game will be even more unkind to you. If you end your relationship on a high note, it can make breaking up a little less awkward!