I met Tina* when I was in the 7th grade. She was beautiful and fascinating, with a gentle voice and demeanor. She was a year older than me, and lived down the street from my house. We spent a lot of free time at her house, chatting and telling stories, drawing and reading books together.
She wasn’t like the other girls I knew. She was dark and mysterious, with long flowing blonde hair and crystal blue eyes. I didn’t have many friends, but she genuinely seemed interested in me and enjoyed my company. So when she pulled out a book on the occult, and showed me a photo inside of a woman having sex with “the Devil,” I was curious and revolted at the same time.
I went home that night and told my mother about what I’d seen, and she forbade me from seeing Tina again. I was raised in an extremely Christian home, so things like the occult were off-limits to me.
It was 13 years before I ever saw or heard from Tina again. Oh, the miracles of Facebook! Somehow we reconnected through there, and when I was invited to visit her, I also met her boyfriend of 10 years. His name was Andy.
Tina and Andy were inseparable and adorable. I loved them both from the moment I walked into their home. My boyfriend at the time, David, disliked them immediately. For some reason, he seemed to have this paranoid delusion that they were trying to steal me away from him. As it would turn out, he wasn’t too far off the mark!
When David and I eventually went our separate ways (not long after he met them, incidentally), I decided it was time for a change. I booked a flight to Australia, gave notice for my place, and started packing up my life.
But when some plans fell through and I found myself temporarily homeless until my departure date, Tina and Andy offered to let me stay with them. It was a short-term arrangement, as I was due to fly out four weeks later.
My first night there found us having a somewhat light-hearted discussion about my ex’s suspicions regarding their intentions toward me. It was mentioned that they did, actually, really love the idea of my being part of their relationship. Not just in the bedroom, but as a permanent third party. They of course realized I was leaving the country shortly for an undetermined amount of time, but I think they just had incredibly strong feelings toward me and wanted to see where it would lead.
I had never engaged in this sort of relationship before. I didn’t even realize that other people had. My relationship experience with women was limited, but I felt a connection with Tina that I had never found with another female. Andy seemed like a really sweet man, and while I adored him as a person, I wasn’t attracted to him sexually. However, it was a package deal, and I figured it was worth a shot.
At first, everything seemed to fit like a glove; we spent our days together smoking cigarettes and talking about our lives. We made grandiose plans for the future and spent our evenings drinking beer and smoking weed (I didn’t partake in the weed; I’ve never really been a fan).
The first time we were intimate with each other was a mixed bag of feelings for me. On the one hand, I enjoyed being physical with Tina; she was passionate, gentle, and sensual in our lovemaking. However I felt quite awkward sharing that moment with Andy looking on, and occasionally participating. There was no real direct sexual contact between he and I, which I was actually quite grateful for.
Our lovemaking sessions became even more uncomfortable for me, as I quickly realized that I only wanted to be intimate with Tina. She started developing deep feelings for me, as I did for her. Having to share our lovemaking with Andy made me feel dirty and cheap.
Our relationship outside of the bedroom was faring little better, due in large part to Andy’s growing jealousy of the chemistry and emotions shared between Tina and I. When we tried to broach the subject with him, he became moody, sullen, and volatile. She suggested to him that perhaps he simply needed to fuck me and be done with it. I was totally against this idea, however in the end, I figured that if it could help repair the damage in our relationship it was worth a shot.
Andy and I went into the bedroom and awkwardly began to undress. He was very cautious and kind, making sure to continually ask me if everything was all right, if I was ok. I lied through my teeth, wanting the whole ordeal to be over and done with as quickly as possible. There are no real words to describe how uncomfortable it was, how violated I felt.
The experience did little to help, in fact, it ending up making things worse. I believe that Andy could tell how uncomfortable I was and that I had zero interest in him sexually, which seemed to fuel his anger even further. It didn’t seem to matter if he was drinking or smoking weed, either seemed to trigger his aggression.
I remember hearing them fight in the other room frequently, and soon they stopped trying to hide their fights from me at all. Instead Andy would explode at me in front of Tina, who had given up on her attempts to defend me, and also began to join in on the attacks. Suddenly, it was my fault that their relationship was damaged. It was my fault that they were fighting all the time.
The emotional abuse escalated to a point where I was physically afraid of them, specifically Andy. Part of me didn’t feel like he would ever harm me, yet there was still a niggling feeling at the back of my mind that he was capable of it.
Finally, during one particularly terrifying episode, I knew it was time to leave. Andy’s eyes were full of hatred and fury, and I simply couldn’t take being their emotional pincushion any longer. I called my best friend in tears, and asked her if I could stay with her for a week until I left for Australia.
In the 5 years since our short-lived relationship, I’ve spoken to Tina a handful of times (when I was in Australia), and run into Andy once. They have since gotten married and had a child, which came as a shock to me, since they had declared they would never do either.
When I first started hearing about Poly relationships a few years ago, I was slightly confused and even a little skeptical of the whole idea. Coming from a general background of monogamy, the idea of sharing my partner with someone else didn’t feel quite right to me. I poured over every article I could find on the subject, curious about this “new” relationship dynamic.
After much deliberation on and consideration of the idea, I came to the conclusion that while it was a valid lifestyle choice that worked well for others, I would never be comfortable in a Poly relationship.
It wasn’t until I remembered the relationship with Tina and Andy that I realized I had been living in one.
Written by Sara Hanna
*All names have been changed for privacy reasons.