I’m polyamorous and I hate my metamours. It’s not coming from a place of jealousy or hating them just because they exist, but because they have displayed inappropriate behavior towards me (disrespecting clear boundaries several times, displays of dominance, disrespecting my time with our shared partner) or have displayed manipulative/abusive/neglectful behavior towards my partners. It started with my boyfriend’s partner, I gave all the resources I could but when he ultimately decided to end the relationship his partner became physically abusive and dangerous. Now, my other partner is terminally ill and her partner doesn’t do anything to care for her, support their household (won’t get a job), and is self-centered and delusional. But, when I say anything about my metamours my partners defend them. How can I take care of the people I love when it’s not my place to tell them to break up with their partners but their partners are toxic to them and our relationship?

First, you gotta care for yourself. If someone is creating drama and tension in your life and your relationships, you have the right to step back from that. It can be maddening to see someone you love in an abusive relationship and not be able to convince them to leave it - but, ultimately, the only person whose choices you can control are yours.

Set clear boundaries for yourself and stick to them: “I’m happy to help you strategize about leaving Jern, but I cannot simply receive your venting about him mistreating you. If you only want a sympathetic ear, I am sorry, but you need to find it elsewhere.” Or, “I made plans to spend time with you, and if Jern is going to demand that you text him the whole time, I’m sorry, but I’m going to leave.”

Sometimes it’s necessary to take some distance from a toxic situation so you can breathe clear air for a while. You are not obligated to stay mired in someone else’s drama just because you care about them. You cannot force them to leave their problematic partners, but you can refuse to engage with the situation according to whatever boundaries you set. 

Within those boundaries, you can continue to be there for your partners - be a positive, supportive voice, continue reminding them that their metamours’ behavior is not okay and not something they deserve or need to endure. But it’s possible that these are wounds you alone cannot heal, and this is a problem you cannot solve even if you throw 110% of your emotional energy and time and effort at it. 

If someone is being threatening and physically abusive or dangerous, call the police. It may seem like a drastic move, but if you are concerned about domestic violence, it’s time to get the authorities involved. For your partner who is terminally ill, you may be able to get help from Adult Protective Services or a social worker at the hospital where they get treatment. But again, it’s nearly impossible to help someone who won’t let you - if your partner doesn’t want that kind of help, you may not be able to do much. 

Please check out some of my previous answers about similar issues: