Toxicity in Polyamory

My husband and I were in a cross relationship with another "married" couple for nearly 3 years. I dated Justin, while Kenny dated Kay.

Throughout the 3 years we knew them, Kay and I had a really hard time getting along. Something was off about her and I didnt trust it. I attempted to let it go as I do not veto my husbands partners. This resulted in a massive compilation of various incidents that I cant help but feel like an idiot as it all builds to obvious toxicity- or at least that's how it feels from where I'm standing.

It seems as though Kay had a habit of targetting individuals who have gone through severe trauma of some type. When we all met and began talking, the first serious conversation that Kay had with my husband was him disclosing he had been raped. After the first 3-4 weeks of talking initially, my husband and I received a long text from Justin on behalf of both of them, cutting things off and accusing us of having an agenda with them. We were confused but decided to let it go and move forward, until they came back to us and apologized 3 months later. Eventually, they confessed that they had dumped us to focus on a relationship with another girl, the week after she had gotten gang raped. And then villainized her when she ghosted them- and came back to us. This is just one of many examples of victims being targeted.

Within the first 6 months of Kenny and Kay's relationship, Kay began communicating that she wanted to marry him. My husband would then become her 3rd. I made it very clear that while I support it, it doesn't mean that it doesn't make me feel weird considering
1.) She still had yet to fix the legality of her marriage to Justin, her second husband so that he could have legal rights to her children he was helping raise
2.) I didnt even have a ceremony for my marriage with Kenny for financial reasons.
And
3.) Kay's personal debt was pushing 6 digits with absolutely no responsibility taken for that or any sort of bills in her own home. Any money spent on a ceremony would be ours.

When these issues were expressed, they were dismissed coldly as "not her problem" and eventually used in building a case against me to explain how mean and judgemental I am.

About 8 months into the relationship, it was decided for Kenny and I that we would look at the house across the street from this "polycule". It was a decent size 3 bedroom and over $200 more expensive than our previous home. When I protested this, again, I was accused of being judgemental and untrusting. Because I knew they likely wouldn't follow through with the agreement they made. They just needed more space to spread out and they were already struggling as it was.

When I was proved to be right, we were villainzed again because we made issue out of them not paying us.

I would also later find out that Kay confessed to my husband, Kenny, that she was not actually attracted to her primary, Justin. That she was simply building a life for herself in which she didnt have to do anything.

Now this brings us to the formation of their polycule. The family we came into consisted of Kay, her second husband, Justin, her 3 children, her 1st husband (father), his fiance (main child care), and her 2 children. Between the men, they juggled 4-5 jobs, the fiance had a home business, and Kay had either no job, or a part time job the entire 3 years we knew them, which only funded her dating and personal life (she made that quite clear).

Meanwhile, the financial pressure and chaos of so many people coexisting, the main parenting individuals had a temper unlike anything I've seen. Constant Screaming. Threats to break the children's arms and legs. Threats to kill them. Some of you may remember some posting made about this a few years ago, which resulted in a massive reeming and villainising from all of them. Accusing me of being too sensitive and a terrible person for putting their family at risk.

It then became a massive defense for them any time I expressed issue with the way the children we spoken to. Alot of manipulating and gaslighting basically telling me that if I really believe they abuse their children then theres something wrong with me.

I was then forbidden to post here anymore.

Close to the end of the relationships, I was dealing with horrible tragedy of a suicide in my family.

To clarify, Kay spoke early on to me about the suicide of one of her first loves. That her sensitivity to that was unlike anything else and she understands loss. She maintained the label of an "empath" from the day we met and used it alot as an explanation for her level of understanding as well as an excuse for acting out several instances.

Right after this death in my family happened, Kay turned on me harder than I ever would have expected. She stopped talking to me at all socially and apparently began a whole new Facebook group to discuss me and talk both of my partners against me. During that time- while I was unaware of what was going on- I went to her for emotional support because of the trust she had built and my desperation for some sort of guidance as I was insanely depressed. She then blamed my- very much- existential depression on how I've treated her. Told me that neither of my partners wanted to connect to me because I hurt her.

It didnt take me very long after this to discover that she is likely a narcissist. I don't like making that sort of decisive judgement on anyone, but so much built over time that I dont even know how else to wrap my head around what we just went through. I came out having learned alot, but I need to reach out because I dont know how to process this. What just happened to us? Does anyone else have any other relatable stories? I've definitely learned that poly lifestyles can enable alot of toxicity and its hard to know what boundaries to set for yourself without feeling closed off to wonderful possibilities.

We have since, entirely cut off contact and are attempting to move forward. But my husband and I keep finding ourselves in almost PTSD- type cycles.

The gaslighting, the lack of trust in motives, paranoia, etc.
If anything this has made me distant from everyone and I just need advice on how to look at this.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Wow. :eek:

That's a LOT. I'm sorry you dealt with all that. What a mess! :(

I'm also to hear about the death in your family. :(

It didnt take me very long after this to discover that she is likely a narcissist.

If not that, then SOMETHING not quite right in this household. I guess it doesn't matter what. Not your job to dx it or fix it. It's your job to GET AWAY from it because it is damaging to you.

I need to reach out because I dont know how to process this. What just happened to us?

I hope you feel better for airing out some here.

I would say a big mess happened, and it took some time for you to realize and be able to get out.

Does anyone else have any other relatable stories? I've definitely learned that poly lifestyles can enable alot of toxicity and its hard to know what boundaries to set for yourself without feeling closed off to wonderful possibilities.

I don't have anything to this degree. I tend to walk away very early on.

I've had several friends leave toxic relationships crash on my couch in between leaving the crazy and finding a new place to live.

I don't think me having a personal standard and personal boundaries closes me off to anything wonderful. They help weed out the wacky so I can GET to the wonderful. If people are too ____ to make the cut for me? Then they just don't make the cut and I don't befriend them or date them long or at all. I want to be around people who are uplifting. Not people who suck me dry.

Just cuz I'm up for poly doesn't mean I want to do poly with ANYONE who happens to come along. YKWIM?

We have since, entirely cut off contact and are attempting to move forward. But my husband and I keep finding ourselves in almost PTSD- type cycles. The gaslighting, the lack of trust in motives, paranoia, etc.
If anything this has made me distant from everyone and I just need advice on how to look at this.

I think cutting off all contact is a good start.

I don't know if those children are safe there being screamed at and threats to break arms or kill them. I don't know if you have called Dept. of Children and Families (DCF) -- or whatever this agency is called where you live -- to report suspected abuse, neglect or abandonment of a child.

But for YOUR healing... it's going to take time. I think you might also consider the help of a professional counselor since this was just SO much stuff and you say you are struggling with PTSD-type cycles.

I think it goes beyond internet forum help.

Like people here can listen, and maybe airing out here on a blog thread or notebook might help you unburden and organize notes while waiting for your appointment... but def make an appointment.

It sounds like a very traumatic experience. :(

Again, I'm sorry you went through all that. :(

Galagirl
 
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lunabunny

New member
As too many of us do, I know what it's like to deal with the aftermath of a toxic, abusive relationship. The heartbreak of a "normal" breakup is nothing compared to the psychic pain, confusion, and the blow to our self worth caused by the manipulative tactics used by narcissists/emotional abusers/serial cheaters and the like.

The fallout from such relationships has a kind of ripple effect that impacts so many aspects of our Selves, our lives and subsequent relationships, going forward.

You need to seek therapy as a matter of urgency, I believe.

Moreover, I would be extremely concerned about the welfare of any children living in this polycule. Nobody, let alone vulnerable children, should be subjected to threats of bodily harm and serious verbal abuse on a regular basis. I certainly hope that you, or other witnesses have called the appropriate authorities, or will do so.
 

lunabunny

New member
I would just add that any past abusive relationships I've been involved in have not been part of, or due to, a polyamorous relationship structure.

Certainly being poly does not mean one is immune to encountering such situations or people. The level of self awareness, ethics, empathy and communication necessary to conduct successful, mutually-rewarding polyamorous relationships seems anathema to a tendency to thrive on inflicting pain on others. (i.e. Sadism not of the "kink" variety.)

That said, all kinds of people may use the term "poly" for their own particular agenda. The very fact that *more* people are involved in such scenarios makes it just as, if not more likely, for a person to encounter abusive behaviours under the guise of poly as they might in any other type of relationship.
 

KC43

New member
I'm sorry that you and your husband have had this situation. I hope that you and he are able to recover from it and find healthier connections going forward.

As for the children involved in that household, I agree with Galagirl and Lunabunny... please contact whatever children's social service agency exists in your location. Even if the children aren't being physically harmed, that level of emotional abuse is, in some ways, even more damaging. In many cases, a report to DCF (or whatever your location's agency is called) can be made anonymously, or, if you have to give them your name, you can request that your name be kept from the children's parents. Given that you've expressed concerns about this situation before, Kay and the others might guess that you're the one who reported even if your name is kept out of it, but even so, these children are in a situation they can't get out of on their own, and in my opinion someone needs to step in.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi IndigoTiger,

It sounds like Kay was an especially toxic person, you did the right thing in removing her from your life. You are still suffering from the damage she did to you. This forum can help with that, but you also need a therapist. I don't mean to imply that you're nuts because you're not. I don't mean to imply that you've done something wrong because you haven't. Everyone needs a therapist now and then. You have been through a lot. You need tools for dealing with what you've been through. A therapist can help furnish you with those.

I'm sorry for all the painful things you have been through. Both Kay and the suicide in your family. I hope posting here helps you a little, and maybe receiving replies helps you a little as well.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

breathemusic

Active member
Wow. That's a LOT to have to go through. I don't really have a similar story to share, but I would say that it sounds like you both need some time to process and heal before you're likely to feel comfortable dating again. There's nothing wrong with that and it doesn't make you no longer poly, it just means that you need some time to recover from trauma.

Also, now that you HAVE had this experience, if and when you do decide to date again, I think it's important that you each individually take the time to consider what red flags you may have overlooked and try and set up some boundaries for yourself to make sure you can avoid missing them again. And then discuss together so that you can find out if you're both on the same page.

I also notice that it sounds like you came to realize that Kay also just lived a lifestyle that doesn't mesh with yours (more of a user and not really responsible or self-sufficient) and so it might be worth examining if this can help you to learn if there are things of that nature that you have learned are just incompatible with you.

I agree with the other suggestion though that it sounds like some therapy might be useful to help with the processing and being able to move forward/on.
 
Thank you all for your support and comments.
I actually am currently in therapy, only mostly for severe childhood abuse and trauma and my PTSD from that, this has, however, taken over a few of my sessions because I feel so...bewildered?

Shes now spreading awful untrue rumors about me and sending Kenny messages through friends to tell him she still loves him. I have made zero response to the rumors because the last thing I want to do is give them attention. But Kenny is quite upset and Yuki, Talon, and I had to talk him out of making a statement about it.

I just wish she would leave us alone and move on.
 

vinsanity0

Active member
She's not going to leave you alone and move on as long as she has some way in. To me, zero contact means zero contact. If your mutual friends can't deal with that then it's time to cut them loose as well. I had a friend who turned out to be a narcissist. The only friendship that survived all that was my friendship with his ex-gf, who refers to him as The One Who Shall Not Be Named.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
But Kenny is quite upset and Yuki, Talon, and I had to talk him out of making a statement about it.
He doesn't have to make a huge statement or give it undue attention. But friends who don't know what is going on might not realize they are adding to his pain when they relay her messages. Maybe they think they are being friendly and don't realize she's using them to gain access to him.

Shes now spreading awful untrue rumors about me and sending Kenny messages through friends to tell him she still loves him.

Kenny could tell the friends that they are broken up, he has cut off contact with her, and that he prefers they NOT pass her messages along to him. He wants nothing to do with her.

They can honor his boundary or he can cut them out too.

Galagirl
 
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Why did you let it go on for so long, unquestioned?

Where did you get the notion that "WTF??" is the same as "veto"?

All in all, you need advice from an attorney first.

I've been asking myself that for a while now.

One big issue is that I, at least used to be, an easy target for gaslighting because of my past experiences and reasons for PTSD. So when I would Express issue with a screwed up thing, Kay knew how to talk me around
Ex: "you're feeling this way because of X. X is a you problem."

And in that situation it was her entire polycule (4 adults) against me each time. And after a while, once fire got turned on me and not Kenny, he began to turn on me as well. So then it was 5 people calling me mean and judgemental. And eventually a bad person.

There was also ALOT of hot and cold interaction from her as well. She would use traumatic events from my past to connect and empathize with me, I would bring up an issue and Express what was needed or what my boundary was, then I would be the problem all over again until she would soften and explain she has feelings for me again.
Over time I became more and more frustrated until things were constantly tense and she would speak against me behind my back to my partners, and tell me that we didnt have to be friends. It was close to the end that I clarified that we are NOT friends, to which was another reason for her to point and say how mean I was.

She also used the children as a sort of bait into her life, as we all loved her kids to which it became a family thing and then the childrens feelings were held against us.

I wasnt really learned on the tactics she was using until much later. And I started to see that most everyone around her was brainwashed into this and locked in via their biggest weaknesses. I was alone for a moment until Kenny started opening up to me again when he started noticing weird hypocritical behavior.

Alot of it is a blur at this point because I've had a history of ignoring issues and judgement in people in fear of getting in the way. It's part of my social reaction due to PTSD. I did, however try to speak my truth and stand up. As I explained in the OP, i was against the house from the start but was outvoted and berated when I expressed a hint of lack of trust.

All in all, I didnt WANT to believe this was this toxic of a situation. Just like I didnt want to believe my mother was toxic and manipulative, or that my stepmother was a psychopathic child abuser. I wanted to believe it was me and they were helping make me a better person. Until it was quite clear she didnt care at all about helping me. She just wanted me out.
 
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