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-   -   Living as a Secondary (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15406)

Francy 10-05-2011 08:54 PM

Living as a Secondary

I'm a 24 year old female and I've been poly for a little over two years now. Since I began pursuing the poly lifestyle I've generally found my love life to be much more fulfilling and surprisingly, far less dramatic and burdensome. I've been in a triangle with a MF couple who are each others long-term, primary partners for over a year now and it's the first time I've been in a poly relationship of such emotional significance. I love both of them very much, and in many ways I've never been happier before in my life.

Because I was entering the relationship as a secondary and I had never become too emotionally entangled in my poly partners before, I didn't expect these two amazing people to become such a large part of my world. Over the past 6 months I've been devoting more and more of my time to them and building the kind of everyday support that I have only ever experienced in monogamous relationships (and a far more rewarding support structure at that).

But I am still a secondary. Recently my partners have begun to experience some turbulence in their relationship and they've been getting into sporadic fights for the last few weeks. Spending time with them can often turn very tense and I am often left feeling like I aggravate the situation, even though their arguments have nothing to do with me.

I've been going through some hard times myself recently, with a growing mound of family and health problems, and I could use some support myself these days. This is where I'm running into problems with being a secondary. Although I have concentrated the same time and emotions as many primary partners do into their relationships, I feel like sometimes I have to put my needs aside for their relationship. Which kind of makes sense to me. They share a home and they are probably going to spend the rest of their lives together. I have my own space and may be living on a different continent next year. But I've also been spending more time with them, and less with my friends and I don't have as many close ones as I used to.

Also, I'm feeling a lot of additional guilt because they seem to most often get into arguments when I'm around these days. I've been spending fewer nights with them so we can all sleep better.

Any other secondaries out there get a little lonely sometimes?

redpepper 10-06-2011 03:59 AM

Wellll, I hate to say it, but you aren't the first to come along and talk of such situations. I hope that something is resolved for you... it sounds like its time to pull away and start doing some other stuff on your own. It might not feel like what you WANT to do, but I suggest it because it will set you up for an easier transition if your triad goes bust. Besides, its more healthy I think, not only for secondaries, but everyone in any relationship dynamic. Good luck :)

AnnabelMore 10-06-2011 04:09 AM

Lordy, do I ever know what you mean. :/ It's a struggle to pull back when all you want to do is be closer. But RP is right. Maybe someday, if it's what you all want, this could be a co-primary triad or vee where you're not the secondary. Maybe you'll move in or blend finances or co-parent or something. But for now, you're doing yourself AND the relationship(s) a major disservice by putting in more energy than they're able to give you in return.

Give it all some space, throw yourself into the rest of your life, flirt, maybe even take a lover on the side if you want. If you're secondary you're half-single, in a way, so try to embrace the good, fun, liberating parts of that fact. Maybe the space will help them resolve whatever it is that's got them fighting, maybe it'll get them missing you, or maybe it'll just help you figure out if you really can be ok in this situation.

rory 10-06-2011 04:24 AM

Since the problem arises mostly when you're all three spending time together, is it possible for you to schedule more one-on-one time with your partners? I also think that if you need support, you should communicate that. There is really no way for them to know that unless you tell them. And no matter how long term their relationship may be in comparison to yours with them, as long as you're all in it you have the right to express your needs and can reasonably expect your partners to be willing to meet them.

Also, as in starting any kind of relationship, you shouldn't neglect your friends because of that! Obviously you may have some less time for friends, but if you feel you have less close friends you used to, you have some apologising to do.

polyq4 10-06-2011 10:57 AM

Poly is communicating
Before you make any drastic shift from this relationship tell them like it is( at least from your perspective). Tell them how you feel, that you notice when youvaround that they fight more etc, exactly what you told us. Either things will work out or they won't, but every one will at least be clear about what's going on.

GroundedSpirit 10-06-2011 05:04 PM

Hi Francy,

Well, when I've found myself in situations like this, my first thought is to use my position as an (technically) outsider to try to help. Now sometimes this can't work and backfires, but it's also one of the biggest benefits of holding that role. So it comes with some obligation to use it.
Sometimes an 'outsider' can really see the trees for the forest as they say, and end up shedding much needed light on something. Something you can't see from 'inside' because you are simply too close to the problem.

Now, this does nothing for your own 'needs' so it does require a cup of selflessness. But by nature of how these things work, if it happens you can contribute something to their situation that solves something, the gratitude will likely generate something coming back your way in return.

And in the possible case that what's brewing below the surface that's stirring conflict indeed has something to do with some perceived conflict of your role, it helps underline the positive role you play. And the more you become an asset and less a threat, the faster the relationship grows.


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