Three girls, Three states, four broken hearts.

I had a troubled life from the very beginning. I didn’t care about anyone but myself. I was the epitome of ignorance is bliss.

I left my hometown of Los Angeles California to be with a girl in a different state. I met her online and immediately wanted to know her for who she really was. While I was still in California she had gotten into a serious accident and couldn’t call me for 2 days. Not a single text or update. She finally got back to me and it was then I realized I cared about her a lot. I decided to move over there and be with her, no money, no living situation set up till she offered her place to stay after she had talked to her father.

Fast-forward to my arrival. New places new beginnings. We get to her place and to my surprise her dad had no clue I was coming let alone staying with them. It was winter so he let me stay. We had a lot of fun for a few weeks but something seemed off. She would always tell me it was that time of the month and we couldn’t have sex.

We went out and we argued more and more every day. Seemed like nothing was going right. I asked her dad about her accident she had while I was in California he said what accident? She was lying to me the whole time. I broke up with her on December 30th 2 days before the biggest day of the year. (We NEVER had sex)

She still begged to be with me but I couldn’t do it. I bought a ticket to move to Idaho where I lived when I was a kid. My flight was for January 6th about a week left. Since I was stuck inside her house for another week we still hung out but I made sure she knew I wasn’t interested in her.

It’s now December 31st at about 8 or 9 pm at a pool hall that we frequented at most of our days. I see this girl playing pool. (We will call her girl 2) She was gorgeous. I tried to hang with my friends that knew her and sure enough about 20 minutes in I get girl 2’s name.

We hit it off right away. She asked me if I would drive her somewhere and I said yes. But another guy came in the middle and said he was taking her. I wasn’t going to argue over someone I just met and it’s a good way to keep her thinking and playing hard to get. I did not see her much for the rest of the night. The ball dropped and everyone had their new year’s kiss. Except for me and my x girlfriend.

The next day I came back to see if girl 2 would be back there. She showed up about an hour after I did. I met up with her and we talked. Eventually we got to the conversation about my lack of a new year’s kiss. She didn’t have one either so we decided we would be each other’s.

For those 4 days I kept trying to see her as much as possible. I ran to her house from the pool hall because my x wouldn’t let me borrow her car (understandable). I was risking being left on my own out in the cold just to see her. I’d drop my x off at work and drive to girl 2’s school just to hang with her for an hour or 2.

The last day I drove to her house one last time. She gave me a ring and I gave her my bracelet to promise each other we would see each other again. Little did we both know it would be 8 years till we saw each other again.

I got to Idaho and we continue talking and being so happy for 3 days. During those 3 days I was also talking to my first love from about 2 years ago, we will call her Girl 3. I kind of missed her. The 4th day I get a knock on the door and it’s the police. I was going to jail because of a warrant. No time to warn anyone. I basically fell off the face of the planet. Mind you, I found out my sister told the cops I was in town and where to find me.

In jail I had time to think and do my own contemplating. Do I go with this amazing girl that I just met that’s in a state I was in for a month and a half or do I go with what I know and go back to my first love? I went over it in my head a thousand times and decided I’d go with my first love. I didn’t want to risk a new relationship with someone I kind of knew for someone I spent so much time with in the past.

I got out of jail and I broke up with girl 2 to get back with the former love of my life, Girl 3. About a week goes by and my former first love stops replying to me completely when I finally realized she did this just to keep me from seeing girl 2. It worked and then I was alone, regretting my decision to leave girl 2. I tried to contact girl 2 about a month later but she had found a new boyfriend.

I kept thinking to myself I could have any girl I wanted and was invincible. I was wrong. 

-Rusty, 30

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He had another girlfriend while we were together for five years.

When I met him he told me he was often busy. So he essentially put us on a schedule. I was allowed to see him on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays. I was never allowed around his family. Anytime I saw him on the weekend I was only allowed a short amount of time with him. I wasn’t allowed to put on Facebook that we were together. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures with him.

Basically, we were Secret.

But he had me believe that he was just such a nice guy that just liked his privacy and liked having his own time so there was nothing to worry about.

But then one day one of his friends message me on Facebook and told me is that he was still dating this girl from high school. So I looked into it and tracked her down. She confirmed that they were still together and that he would see her on the weekends and twice during the week. She also would go to his dad’s house so that’s why I was never allowed at his dad’s house.

So it all came together and we both decided to dump him. Keep in mind he had been cheating on both of us for five years and neither of us knew anything. So we both left him and if he swore up and down that he didn’t love her he loved me but I called b*******.

So I started going out with friends and going to bars and I met someone new. I had been seen the new guy for about a week when my ex heard about it and came to the bar trying to win me back.

Somehow he sweet-talked his way back into my life. He changed for about a year. We now live together but I’m starting to see his old ways pop back up. Oh, I also accidentally left out the part where when I dumped him he crashed his brand new Camaro into a wall to try and get my attention. Probably shouldn’t have gone back to him. But for some reason, I can’t help it.

And looking back I always knew something was up but I didn’t want to believe it. Like, I caught him lying all the time and I made excuses for him. It got to the point where I would even lie to my friends and family for him because I didn’t want them to question him.

I always knew something was off I spent a lot of time hurt crying and upset about our relationship. But I couldn’t leave and I don’t know why. He’s a smooth talker and very manipulative. I never should have gone back but I did and now I’m in the same predicament I was in before.

-Anonymous, 25

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Married at 18 and Divorced by 21

So I married my high school sweetheart.

We met at 14 and dated all through high school.

He joined the navy.

We got married at 18 when he was at home on a break from boot camp/ a school before he was stationed at Coronado Island in San Diego.

He deployed while we were married for about 6 months then I joined him in San Diego at 19.

We started to deteriorate from there.

I eventually left him at 20 due to fighting, unhappiness and his aggressiveness. We had cops called on us at one point & covering bruises was a normal thing. I left and never really saw him again.

We separated at 20, official divorce at 21.

At 24 I saw him at a bar and after several drinks, I ended up going home with him, which was coincidentally his last day in SD.

He moved to Nebraska to be with another girl who already had a kid. They got knocked up like 2 months later with her never knowing I stayed with him the night he left.

After we divorced I stayed in SD, dated one of my best friends and traveled the world.

I also joke my marriage was the best mistake I ever made.

I’m now back in Colorado almost 25, single, bar manager at Tellers taproom and no regrets with how my life turned out.

-Anonymous, 25

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An Irish Goodbye

Trigger Warning: self harm, drug use, heavy alcohol consumption, and suicide attempt is described in this piece.

Aside: the relationships described were nonmonogamous in nature, meaning that the people therein agreed that the people they loved were free to explore love with more than one person. Ideally…

She had blue eyes, dark brown hair, and a name as Irish as Shannon O’Connor, but I prefer to leave it out. Instead, I think it fitting to refer to her as Sally, as her favorite author was JD Salinger.

Sally worked as a barista at the same coffee shop as my ex (call him Ben), usually sharing shifts. I, being a total creep, spent entirely too much time hanging out with them while they were working, thus “incidentally” resulting in my being invited out after work with the rest of the staff. At this point in my life, I was the clingy, distrustful, but outwardly sane type. My insecurity, exacerbated by Ben foolishly allowing me to catch him sneaking around with several women he worked with, mixed with an enthusiasm for “getting an A+ in my first real open relationship,” eventually led us to an evening of dancing and publicly acceptable debauchery. And then the three of us ended up at her place with a bottle of whiskey and a pile of powder and no good ideas. One embarrassing attempt at a threesome and a lot of negotiation later, she and I decided to go on a date, just the two of us.

Initially, we both tried very hard to impress one another. She was a reader, capable of very deep feeling and with a horrible history of heartbreak. We enjoyed playfully scoffing at other people’s horrible taste in books. I was…I honestly don’t know what she saw in me at that point in my life, as I was Hell bent on self destruction through the most fun, manic means possible. I thought I was emotionally honest, but now I feel like a vampire. She told me of her struggles with mental illness, sharing her most precious books with me. Notes in the margins, bookmarked pages; she showed me her soul, warning me how delicate her heart was.

I had no idea how to handle it. I fell in love with her very quickly, but this immediately caused serious problems with Ben. Living together, I doubt my habit of returning home late from most activities made him feel terribly secure in the relationship or his trust in me. I wanted to dive into every moment with her, without concern for my other relationships. My nonprimary partners were not bothered by my new love, but the one I lived with was capable of making my emotional environment highly unstable, which he did. While probably not entirely on purpose, this behavior was likely a reaction to insecurity getting the better of both of us.

One morning, I came home from a date with her acting almost manic with dilated pupils. Ben suspected that we’d been doing drugs, but I’d only had two homemade Moscow Mules earlier in the evening with dinner and a cup of coffee in the morning. Knowing that Sally imbibed occasionally, Ben suspected the worst.

While I spent the day vomiting and sweating out whatever was in my system, he questioned her about any possible source of illegal chemical intoxicants which might have made it into my system without my knowledge. She was distraught, but admitted that she knew why I was so sick. She had apparently been engaged in a binge the week previous, and remembered she had hidden her drugs in the bottom of several of her cups, but didn’t remember which ones. After searching the cabinet, she found no cups containing illicit chemicals, and concluded that they must have been in one of the cups I’d used.

She’d poisoned me by accident.

Even though it was an accident, the trust between us was broken, and I did not feel the same toward her.

Suddenly, texts from her were cause for anxiety rather than giddiness. Working with Ben, there was no escaping the tension. Ben informed me that these feelings meant that I was not in love with her anymore, and that any action on my part was leading her on. This disgusted him, and he demanded that I be honest with everybody and break things off. My mind felt as if it were coated in tar, and I was unable to summon any emotion besides guilt. So I dodged hanging out with her for a few days, but tried to be textually supportive and present as I thought was my duty as a girlfriend. She happened to be experiencing some serious family unrest, necessitating her relocation, which was not affordable at the time.

Then she got fired. Ben told me the news when he came home from work, and shortly thereafter, she texted me and asked if she could come over. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I said yes, apologizing in advance for being distant and not talking much. We sat on opposite ends of the couch, silent for about 15 minutes. Ben was watching us from the kitchen, pretending to be cooking.

She turned to me, looking at the coffee table as if she could cut it in half with her gaze, “It’s over, isn’t it?”

My jaw dropped, and my face said it all before I could form the words, “I don’t know.”

It was.

She sat on the couch, keening, for what felt like hours. Ben rushed from the kitchen to hug her, looking worried, and held her as she cried. Between sobs, she drank whiskey she’d brought from home. Not knowing where to go, since it was my house, I sat there beside them and watched, wishing I were invisible. Rather, I wished I was anywhere else, and preferably somebody else. Ben walked her to the door, and returned to my side on the couch. How did I feel? I felt numb. He was proud of me, because that had seemed very hard. I supposed it was for the best.

She continued to text him as she drove home, and with my heart so heavy, I thought that this must also be best. After all, she was lacking in emotional support, and I had him. It was obvious that I would have to share. Within minutes of her leaving, it occurred to me that I had seen her drink a lot, and I panicked. Her texts did not help, and went from frantic to despondent. She narrowly avoided an intoxication checkpoint, and called Ben, begging him to pick her up and drive the rest of the way to her house. He assured her that she was smart enough to make it home by herself, and he was too tired to be a safer driver than she, anyway.

I overheard the conversation, and snapped. How could he say no to a cry for help like that? What kind of a person was he? I immediately dragged him into the car and set out to find her. I grabbed his phone, pretending very poorly to be him, hoping to find out where she was and save her from that mess. After searching for checkpoints between our house and hers, I sped to her apartment, parked illegally, and kicked in the fence in her building’s parking garage. After thoroughly twisting my ankle, I convinced Ben to come after me. I dragged him through the maze of homes, and proceeded to knock on her door in noisy staccato, for what amounted to more than a few minutes. I was determined to wake the neighbors.

A tiny voice came through the door. “I’m fine. Please go.”

“No you’re not. I’m not leaving.”

I began to dig in my purse for something to get through the door, but before I could find a hammer or credit card, she unlocked the door. I grabbed the handle and squeezed into the dark hallway as fast as I could. Immediately, I smelled blood.

Her forearm was covered in fresh cuts, and as she wiped away the tears from her eyes, she left a smear across her face. It was everywhere. I pointed toward the bathroom, and she led me to her sink, which was worse than the kitchen. I grabbed a towel and pressed it to her arm, “I’m so sorry, I know I’m not the person you need for this.” She wept, avoiding my eyes by staring at my hands and the towel, which was slowly turning red.

“I wouldn’t have done it. You didn’t have to come.”

“This is enough that I have to.”

After bandaging her, and cleaning up most of the blood from Sally and her apartment, Ben and I sat on her couch. She was weeping silently in his arms, and I sat a few feet away, waiting until sunrise. Ben drove me home, annoyed that I’d forced him into such an awkward situation. Once in bed, I remained there, smoking heavily, numbly wasting several days until the reefer was gone. Ben assured me that I would get over it if I just got out of bed. But it was my ex girlfriend, Jordyn, (who wasn’t Ben’s and my ex yet) who came to my house, pulled me out of bed, dragged me to hot yoga, then tacos, then a bar, and waited until I cried it out.

Polyamory shines when life is darkest, and if it weren’t for my nonprimary partners and close friends, I never would have escaped the obviously abusive relationship with Ben, six months later.

I got in touch with Sally, a year after I kicked Ben out. I still had her favorite book. It still had all of her notes. I felt horrible for the way I had left things, and was determined to return her treasure. We had dinner, and my crush on her returned. I tried to be a little physical with her, hoping that she felt something in return. After several occasions on which we should not have spent the night together, she turned away from me when I tried to kiss her. Nope. I couldn’t just be friends, so I stopped answering her texts. I was too confused to tell her that I wanted her back but didn’t know how it could ever work. She stopped communicating with me after about a month.

I still feel awful about that graceless and cold exit, and I miss her, but I firmly believe that that door must remain closed. Unlike the man who tries to save the scorpion and gets stung, I choose to accept that there is too much risk for harm, rather than hope our natures will change.

-Alex, 29

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My high school sweetheart dropped out of my life

So I met Derek when I was 17 and he was 16. He went to a different school but swam for my high school. I was a manager for the men’s team and we started dating right after the season ended. We dated all the way through college. He dropped out of college for me and moved to Michigan to become a tow truck driver. We broke up in early 2015.

Things were great when we were together in Los Angeles. We spent nearly all our time together and didn’t have any major issues. I did see one or two times of extreme anger/overreaction, though, which should’ve been a warning sign to me, but I was young.

While in college, we texted and emailed and talked on the phone frequently, skyping too. It became much harder on us though because we were apart. For me, transitioning to college was difficult as it was, but exacerbated by me being away from Derek. We saw each other maybe once or twice a year for a week or so at a time.

At first, it wasn’t too bad because he lived in Los Angeles, so I’d see him for most holidays. But when he moved to Michigan it got worse. It was harder to see him and he sort of had his own life issues that affected our relationship. He began to party and smoke weed more often and would lie about it, which caused me grief and trust issues. I would give him so many opportunities to just be open and honest with me so we could have open communication and trust, but he’d lie. He started drinking way too much and that made me uncomfortable.

We ended up not talking as much as we had been. We had a lot of communication and expectation issues over time. The tipping point for me was when he disappeared for about 24 hours. He just stopped answering me and his mom texted me frantically saying something like “you need to tell Derek to get in touch with me. Contact is important at this point.” I didn’t know what that meant and I called and texted him all day, worried something had happened to him. When he finally called me, he told me that he had gotten into an argument with one of his younger brothers over something trivial and that they got into a fight and his brother called the police on him and he ran. I was upset about the way he handled the situation from start to finish and hurt that he never responded to me. Here I was thinking he was hurt or missing or something and he was really just hiding.

I broke up with him over the phone that day.

Eventually, he was arrested for the assault but his brother was forced to drop the charges by his parents. I never understood why they picked on Mark for everything and babied Derek. Derek and I talked off and on for a while, I tried to be friends because I still loved him and didn’t want to lose him. It got worse when I found out he was dating someone else. I had expected him and encouraged him to, but that he was in a relationship so quickly didn’t make sense to me.

I found out he had cheated on me and had already been seeing her before we broke up anyway. Even after I knew, he still tried to tell me he loved me and she didn’t mean anything and that they weren’t together. But I saw the FB photos and what not. He eventually blocked me on FB and I tried to move on.

We would talk occasionally for like maybe a week every few months (texting, maybe a phone call). I think it was because we were both so used to having the other one in our lives. I would always come to my senses and cut things off. He would get the picture and eventually send a long text apologizing for how he had acted etc etc etc. I stopped acknowledging his texts and he sent me an email apologizing again (this off and on contact has spanned the past two years, but I’ve completely stopped responding).

I never thought I would be able to say I’m completely over him and I thought I would always love him (at least part of me would) but I can confidently say that isn’t true.

He was a huge part of me growing into adulthood and I don’t regret the experiences, but he was bad for me and I’m lucky our relationship ended.

Now I’m in a great relationship in a great city on a cool path, and I’m excited. I could never really be myself or reach my full potential with him. I don’t have any anger towards Derek anymore, but I am still affected by him. It is very hard for me to trust people. We spent about 5 years together from teens through college graduation. I learned a lot about myself and relationships by being with Derek.

– Anonymous, 24

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Best Friends to Marriage to Divorce

When I was 15 years old, I met my future ex-husband. We became friends in high school and for over 5 years, he always playfully accused me of friend-zoning him. Eventually, I realized that I did have feelings for my best friend and we started to date. After a couple months, he decided that he was going to join the army so he dumped me and left for basic training. When he got back from basic training, he decided that he wanted to be with me again and so we began to date once more.

After a few months, I found out that he was getting stationed across the country so he asked me to marry him.

I said yes.

A few weeks after we got engaged, he called me crying on the phone because he had made out with one of his friends. She used to write to him while he was at basic training. He came over and collapsed on his knees in front of me, begging for forgiveness. I forgave him. A few months later, we ended up getting married and we moved to North Carolina together.

The first couple of months of marriage were blissful, as they should be. By the third month, I started to suspect that there were other things going on behind my back. So, I snooped on his computer and found out that he had been video chatting with a girl that he was in love with years ago. They continued to flirt and video chat, and I found a message saying that she had stripteased for him on the camera the night before our wedding.

I was so angry that I ended up trashing our entire apartment. I told him that I was divorcing him and that I wanted to go back home, but once again, he fell on his knees begging for forgiveness, and I forgave him. Another year went by, but nothing was the same. I never trusted him, I was always assuming that he was cheating on me, and I couldn’t get past his past transgressions. Eventually, he sat me down and asked for a divorce because he couldn’t handle how bitchy I was all the time. I tried to explain to him that I had a good reason for not trusting him but he said it was all my fault and that I should have trusted him since he apologized.

We eventually agreed that divorce was the best option. Unfortunately, we had to live together for another six months since he was still stationed. I found out that he was still talking to the girl that gave him a striptease over Skype, and that he had been emotionally cheating on me with her since before we got married. I discovered many conversations between them where he constantly told her how much she loved her and wanted to be with her, and how much he missed her.

He eventually got himself purposely kicked out of the Army by failing his physical test, so the army sent us back to Colorado. I had to live with him and his dad for two months until I could find my own place to live. He used to bring the girl over that he had emotionally cheated on me with. It was incredibly painful seeing that this man that I had devoted my life to, would rather be with a drug-addicted child. I had to tell myself constantly that even though I was in pain, it wasn’t worth being with somebody that wasn’t going to treat me the way that I deserved.

My ex and I were only married for a year and two months. The six months following our separation was probably the hardest six months of my life. I felt like a failure because my ex had told me that the reason he cheated on me was that he wasn’t attracted to me anymore. I had gained some weight after we had gotten married and he said it was my fault for getting fat. He had a hard time performing well in bed and after we split up, I blamed myself for not being able to please him. Looking back a few years later, I now know that his behavior was not my fault and never was and never will be. He had behavioral and sexual issues that were not my fault, and I cannot continue to blame myself for the way that he acted. I am now with a man who cherishes me and treats me like a queen and I will never look back.

At the moment, divorce can feel like the end of the world. But you will survive and will make it through, regardless of what your brain tells you. There were moments where I wanted to rip my hair out, slam my fist into the wall and scream and cry until my throat bled, but I made it through and that is all that matters.

– Mia, 26

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