Regardless of someone's orientation, identity, or status in life, if you choose a partner, make sure you value yourself enough to find someone who values you. YOU. Not your stuff, not what they can get you to do, not how giving you may be, and certainly not how controllable they can make you. If you find mutually beneficial connections and goals and you can collectively share your values and be better together than your singulars, perfect. If you become the subject of their exploitation and manipulation, this is abuse. This is Kristen's burden.
If someone, anyone, is placed ahead of you for the sake of romance or emotional connection, without your consent, its cheating. Honesty and respect go miles in a relationship. Polyamorous relationships, from how I understand them, don't require one to take a back seat and become emotionally disregarded while the others enjoy. This was my burden. Now, let's meet Kristen's new addition to our used-to-be family. Her name, for the sake of this story, is Lee.
When Kristen first told me about Lee, I initially felt excitement for her excitement. Lee labeled Kristen a "fence rider" almost immediately, indecisive, infantile. As a straight person, I didn't realize how derogatory the term was right away. My gay friend schooled me on some labeling. I soon learned Lee didn't have a job and is unemployable, she has a criminal record for domestic violence (and I get it, I'm in a prison. I'm not casting stones here. Everyone has a story, but I know the type), she's less than educated, a laundry list of "medical problems" that she required Kristen to cater to, and now she was in my girlfriend's head somehow. My past relationship's realities were throwing red flags everywhere about what Kristen was getting herself into.
When Kristen sent me a photo of Lee, something further didn't sit well with me. Lee seemed way more masculine than what Kristen had said she was looking for. Is this a replacement figure? She had a shaved head, guys clothes, talked about driving her truck and listening to country music and a shitload of trailer park style drama. But that was it. She didn't seem to have much more depth than that and really was going nowhere on her own two feet. She used to chew tobacco and smoked, but she supposedly quit. Kristen said she was a heavy drinker until the domestic violence charges related to her ex, but she's over that now. She absolutely wasn't anything remotely close to what I was thinking of when Kristen sold me on the poly idea and I wasn't out there to stop this train from derailing into the shit show station. Its a mess...