Episode 90: Breakup News

Sometimes making a rule causes the exact problem that the rule is designed to prevent.

Mentioning that you’re going through a breakup is not an expectation of emotional support to new partners, friends or anyone else.

That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.

Discussion Topic:

How do you feel towards your exes and why?

Listen here on or on Anchor. Visit the Anchor website to find where else the podcast is distributed or use this handy RSS link.


This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Use my affiliate link for 10% off your first month.

Thank you to Chris Albery-Jones at albery-jones.com for the theme music and a big thanks for the podcast art to Dom Duong at domduong.com.

Podcast transcript

I recently went through a breakup with my anchor partner of 1 year. While amicable, I’m still heartbroken and taking some time away from them to adjust to new standards/expectations for our relationship (platonic) going forward.

I have a couple of other relationships with other people I’m building, but they’re all fairly new, on the 5th or 6th date or so. How should I bring up this breakup with my current partners? I don’t want them to feel like they’re second best, nor burden someone I’m still getting to know with comforting me, but I want to be honest about where I’m at.


I would say bring it up when it's relevant. The same thing that you would do for a friendship that you're building. I don't think that you should assume that by bringing up something difficult that you're expecting people to comfort you or that comforting you is a burden. Like, okay, yeah, sometimes we don't want to go into you know, our fifth or sixth or seventh date and be like, “Let me just offload all of my trauma on to you. Let me just tell you all about some of the worst most grisly experiences of my life”.

I get that there are boundaries around that. But I kind of feel like you— the entire point of relationships, whether they are romantic relationships or friendships is to support one another. And I just feel like if you are going out on your seventh date, and they're like, “How are you?” and you're like, “Oh, I'm I'm struggling a little bit right now. I just broke up with somebody that I'm living with” and you don't have to call it an anchor partner if you don't want to.

It depends on how that fits within the context of your relationships and how you do hierarchy or if you do hierarchy, but you can say— like if you were to say, “Yeah, I've been working out with my partner and it's rough” and they go “oh, my God, I—“ you know, and they never call you back that's, that's an asshole. That's not your fault because you've told them something that you're going through, and comforting you— like, it's not like you're not expecting someone to you know, take time off work and come bring you soup.

You're just expressing as you would to a friend that you're going through some difficult shit right now. And even if they're not interested in dating you they should still be like, human and decent and nice and be like, “Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry about that”. You know, and they need to negotiate their own boundaries around that right? Like if they don't want to, you know… it depends, like if you were to go into the date and like “Yeah, I'm really struggling”. You know, they could approach it like, “Oh my god, I'm so sorry about that. Why don't we use the date to focus on some positive stuff?”

Or they could say “Do you want to talk about it?” Like there's tons of different ways that they can handle the situation that don't involve being like, “Oh, wow, I didn't know you were human with emotions and problems. Wow. I’m noping out of this”. Like, is there going to be that much of a dick… I just think that's dickish. I mean, maybe if your partners are a little bit more like casual I guess maybe they don't want to hear— I find it really hard to understand a type of relationship that have with somebody that A. I’m going to sleep with. I'm assuming that they are because you mentioned one relationship is platonic that you're not, you know, ace and sex phobic or all that sorts of stuff. You know, even if I wasn't sleeping with someone, I just feel like if I had a friend and I did — I actually had a friendship like this once where basically every time I tried to talk about some of the difficult stuff going on in my life, they would basically just not respond.

And I’m done with that shit man. And you know, you do you and how you want to do your relationships is how you want to do your relationships. But like, you should be able to tell somebody that you're building a relationship with that you're going — I mean, you should be able to tell people at work that without like, you're not burdening anyone at work. If you were— I've had people tell me— I think I have had people tell me, you know— I’ve had people when I was a manager, and I had a team I've had people be like, “Oh, I'm, you know, a family member of mine died” and I'm like, “Oh, my God, like take all the time you need. Is there anything I can do to help?” and it's not a it's not a burden to to be a decent ass person.

I'm not criticizing you. By the way. I just— I really want to impress upon you the fact that you are not a burden for going— not only going through something that's rough, but also just expressing it. Just expressing that you're going through something is no obligation to anybody to do anything. And if anybody tells you that, that's because they have— I'm gonna just be blunt. That's because they have weak as shit boundaries.

Like I'm sorry and I—  I've been in a lot of communities like this and these types of communities, drive me nuts, where basically, everybody is displacing all of their human agency and responsibility onto everybody else to the point where, gosh, I don't even know how to like, adequately explain this. But I'm not saying you're involved in this, but I'm saying that like, I don't want you to feel like you can't even talk about what's going on in your life.

And if anyone in your life has ever made you feel bad or said — not made you feel bad, but like, if anyone's ever been like, reacted in a way to you expressing something that's going on with you as if you're demanding that they do something for you, that's just not true. Like it's not true. They may feel when somebody expresses something like that. They may feel burdened by that. But, that's their situation. Like it's not something you can control and it's also not a demand.

So yeah, I very, very much feel like you know, bring it up when it's relevant. If you're feeling down about it, then talk about it. You know, same as you would a friendship like maybe you know, somebody who you call everyday somebody who's like a really good friend who's known you for a few years, maybe you would call and tell them right away when this happened because they're within your immediate support structure. But like even people were not in your immediate support structure can still be supportive without that being a burden.

So I would say, if you're feeling rough about it, be honest and just tell them like “Yeah, I'm going through a breakup” and if you want to, you know, make— if you don't want them to feel like their second best, then just, you know, be honest about that and kind of unpack that, like, do you have anchor partners? Is that something you're considering? Because I kind of feel like as you're dating people, you should probably at some point have a conversation about how non-monogamy or polyamory or whatever you want to call it fits within your life and what your kind of expectations are and or what you kind of want out of the relationship.

I know that like a lot of modern day, maybe not even modern day, I feel like there's there's a lot of really shitty relationship advice where people are just encouraged to play games and like don't talk about your needs and wants because you don't want to scare them away. You don't want to be needy, blah blah, and I'm very much against that. I think that you should be honest about what you want.

You should be honest about how you're feeling. And yeah, there might be some people who can't deal with that, but you probably would rather have people in your life who can support you and are wanting to support you than people who are really, for whatever reason, anxious about giving people support or are so inconsistent and poor in their own personal self boundaries that they feel anxiety about you expressing that you need something because they're too much of a people pleaser to say no to you.

You don't want to have that type of relationship anyway, I would think so just be honest about it. Because you gotta to be able to say stuff like that to— to even co-workers like… I don't know. And I'm not like buddy buddy with my co-workers. I find the idea of like— I don't mind being friends right, but I find the idea of— sometimes I feel like people— a little too much. A little too much buddy buddy. And yeah, I kind of like to keep my work and my personal life separate.

But even so if I was going through a breakup and it was— it applied to the situation and you know— I remember one time during work, I had a situation where a friend of mine committed suicide and it was really upsetting. And I told my boss on one to one I just said like, “Look, I had a friend of mine who recently passed and I'm, if I'm kind of disconnected, that's why” and I also had like a really upsetting time with another friend.

And it made me really snappy at work and say something mean and I said to the person, “I apologise, and I said, you know, I have a friend who's doing this and I've asked why I'm kind of really short. And I really don't mean it”. And they completely understood. I just feel like you should be able to have this conversation with somebody you're going on a date. You know, I don't know. Maybe I'm wild but I think even on the first date, like if I was on a first date with somebody, and I asked them how they were doing and they were like, “oh, you know, I'm you know I'm going through it because I'm going through the— I just went through a breakup and it's hard”.

I mean, I might steer that conversation to say “Okay, I'm sorry, you feeling that way? How can you know what can we do on this date to hopefully the state cheers you up and hopefully it’s… you know”. It doesn't have to become a therapy session. It can just be like, “Okay, I'm sorry to hear that. Like, let's do something fun and take your mind off it”, you know. So yeah, that's my very long winded— I feel like this didn't have to take as long as it did. But I just want you to feel like you can talk about your life with people and the people who react negatively to that or the people who decide that it's their responsibility to manage you are people with poor boundaries.

And you don't have to take that personally. You can keep living your authentic self and the people who have crappy boundaries… if that doesn't show up, then as a way to say, you know, maybe you're not wanting to be in a relationship with them, then maybe that will show up later on down the line when it's much worse. So yeah, bring it up when it's relevant, just as you would do with a friend and if anyone decides that they don't want to know the intimate details of your life, and you want to build a relationship with them. I mean, it's up to you. But I think yeah, probably you're not as compatible as you would like to be. So I hope that helps and good luck.

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