is there a better word?
I've been thinking a lot about primary and secondary as terms to describe relationships.
It seems like a lot of people are willing to accept the idea that a newer lover, or a less involved lover, may be equal in love and respect but not necessarily equal in terms of making life decisions together or getting priority for time, commitment, etc. Things may change over time, a lover who was once secondary may become co-primary. But until that happens, or if it never happens, I find it useful to have a way to talk about the relationship's structure.
However, even those people who acknowledge the idea of the sort of relationship described above often seem to HATE the word "secondary" itself. Or, if not hate it, they at least may be kind of uncomfortable with it or see it as meaning a whole host of bad things. Like, people may assume that folks who have a commited life partner (a primary) and call another relationship secondary are going to have a host of rules, or are going to think of the newer person as disposable, or are going to mistreat their secondary partner.
I don't want to bring up a big discussion of "why don't we get rid of all these labels." We need words in order to think and talk about things. As long as the words are descriptive and not prescriptive, I think we're all good.
Maybe the problem is the word itself. Maybe secondary sounds too negative... maybe people can't help it, they see or hear it and they think second place, second in love, always thought of last, etcetc.
Can we as a community find a word that conveys the concept without all the negative baggage? Or is it just inevitable that the way people so often mishandle their relationships with newer partners will taint any word associated with the concept? Has anyone tried to come up with a new system of talking about these things before? Should it just be unique to every set of relationships (that would make it really hard to easily discuss things as a community...)?
Thanks for your thoughts!
Just a little question here.
How,..does a group of people that encourage each other to face the things they are afraid of, for example - jealousy, then turn around and want to forget words that make them uncomfortable ?
We don`t come up with a new word for jealousy, just because we don't like it.
Why not face the words, face what makes us uncomfortable about it, and find some way to accept it ?
Fear is fear, is it not ?
I think people should be encouraged to find a level of acceptance, rather then duck and avoid.
There seems to be a number of people who have equated 'secondary' with being 'not good enough'. I think that is more from former baggage they have yet to claim !
Rather then accepting the fact that it can be a whole lot of different things, depending on the various people involved.
I say,...work on that.
"Secondary" has negative connotations of "less than" in our society. It does, it's not just personal "baggage." Why should anyone have to accept hierarchical language if they are working to not live their lives in that way? Hierarchy isn't "natural." We don't have to give in to rankings, competition, less than, more than. Language is incredibly important and I think AnnabelMore's question is a valid one.
Just because you don't like the word and don't use the word doesn't mean that relationships aren't hierarchtical .
What about alternate ....much softer ...kinder ....I think I got something here ..
I went to dictionary.com and thesaurus.com and looked up the actual definition of "secondary" and its synonyms.
Depending on what point of view you want to take, secondary CAN be seen as less than or less desirable.
sec·ond·ar·y [sek-uhn-der-ee] Show IPA adjective, noun, plural -ar·ies.
1.next after the first in order, place, time, etc.
2.belonging or pertaining to a second order, division, stage, period, rank, grade, etc.
3.(in scholarly studies) pertaining to or being a derived or derivative account, an evaluation of original data, etc.; not primary or original, as in secondary source; secondary research .
4.of minor or lesser importance; subordinate; auxiliary.
Main Entry: secondary
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: subordinate; less important
Synonyms: accessory, alternate, auxiliary, backup, bush-league, collateral, consequential, contingent, dependent, dinky, extra, inconsiderable, inferior, insignificant, lesser, lower, minor, minor-league, petty, relief, reserve, second, second-rate, small, small-fry, small-time, subject, subservient, subsidiary, substract, supporting, tributary, trivial, under, unimportant
Antonyms: first-class, first-rate, important, primary, superior
So based on those definitions of what a secondary is... yeah - those are not very pleasant.
In case you're wondering - I like to make sure we're all working with the same definitions before I give an opinion.
I prefer the above bolded & underlined definitions. That's how I use secondary.
Not inferior, insignificant, lesser, lower, minor, trivial or any of those. Simply, an auxiliary who has less time in my life due to the fact that I am a busy woman with a full life.
I can and do make time for things that are important to me. I am making time to go to Kamloops this weekend for derby - its important to me. If someone were to come into my life who was important to me - I'd make time. I do for my friends. I do for my family.
But derby doesn't get equal time with my husband and kids. My friends don't get equal time with my husband and kids. An auxiliary/secondary/supplementary person wouldn't get equal time - and I wouldn't expect equal time in their lives either.
It doesn't mean the people in my life are less important - it just means that I don't have a lot of time to give them.
For me.. .secondary isn't a bad thing. Its just a fact of time.
BTW, as a pagan who likes to read the Bible for fun, I recently found this deep in the Old Testament:
I found a family where a guy had 2 wives (1 Samuel 1):
"Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb."
Interestingly, Peninnah means, "second."
"Because the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her."
Anyway, I've been wanting to post about that for a couple weeks. Just thought I'd throw it in there. Written about 2600 years ago...
The notes say Elkanah probably took a second wife to provide children.
Dinged, "alternate" is an interesting option, I think that has potential.
How do people feel about the idea of using "full-time partner" and "part-time partner" instead of primary and secondary? It occurred to me, because time and finances seem to be the main differences, and those are also often some of the major differences with a full versus part time job. Plus, there are no negative connotations to a part-time job, and it's understood that you could get more serious about a job over time.
Well, I don't live full time with miss pixi but she is still definitely my primary. She also considers her bf's house a 2nd home... she's welcome there as family... even though she could call him a secondary and he could call her that... and yet he might be moving away with his gf cross country. :( And she's just gonna be left behind.
sigh... just rambling.
The term "secondary" works for some people and doesn't work for others. I'm one for whom it doesn't work. And I agree a better word is needed. And I'm glad this conversation is happening, because of it. I'd love to find a word I find more comfortable, should I ever have a relationship roughly resembling a "secondary" one.
How about altamour ....
ok ...great so you invent a new name or pick a new name the definition would remain the same ...right. A guy riding on a garbage truck is a ???? Pre owned car is a used car right. Hundreds of millions of us went to Jr. high School and never felt the stigma ....but yet someone thought it a good idea to climb up and change the signage to Middle school....same building doing the (same) job .. ..at least in theory...trying to do the same job.
What happens if the chain gets longer....invent another word. My guess is that's why people with large constellations drop the labels because it may suck thinking of yourself as fourth runner up. But in fact that hierarchy still remains for a host reasons.
Whats the attraction of the "primary spot" ???? Wouldn't that be a fundamental flaw in poly thinking .....trying to achieve primary status?? Or at least in-congruent to poly thinking.
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