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-   -   How do I continue on as a secondary without a primary? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19512)

PaperGrace 12-30-2011 03:19 AM

How do I continue on as a secondary without a primary?
Hello all. I am new to forum posting, but not to forum reading. I've been reading voraciously since starting this journey. I also attend the local poly group meetings. I appreciate the care and compassion that I see in this group, in addition to the thoughtful debates. Iím still a little nervous.

As background - I am newish to poly. I dated once in the poly scene before meeting my current boyfriend. My SO and I have been together for a little over a year since the first ďI love you[s].Ē He has a live-in partner (by description, primary), and two girlfriends in addition to me. I am his only partner without her own primary relationship. I will note that we donít use hierarchical terms like primary/secondary, Iím simply using them for short-hand descriptors.

I see my SO on a scheduled day once a week starting in the evening through the following morning. He usually needs to leave before I technically have to get up. I usually end up sacrificing a good bit of sleep when I see him since we have such concentrated time together and we try to make the most of it. We also see each other in group settings 2-4 times during the month for events, like poly group meetings.

Here is my current struggle. I love him and we are awfully good together, however, this relationship canít meet some significant needs for me. Now that the NRE has worn off, the excitement of him walking in the door no longer makes up for the fact that I donít have a partner to share my day to day life with, someone who I can take to my office Christmas party (my workplace is conservative), or someone with whom I have a foreseeable future. This is not his fault, or my fault, or his OSO's faults (they are bright and kind women whom I trust and admire), or polyamoryís fault. Itís simply the way things are. I am in a loving and supportive, if limited, relationship, but I am lonely.

Here is my question: how do I stay in a relationship that on a fundamental level doesnít work and leaves me wanting? If this were a monogamous relationship where we would never set up our own household and I couldnít include him in my social activities, I would move on and date someone who was more available. If I couldnít plan a future with a man I had been dating for over a year (regardless if that future came to pass or not), I would admit to myself that we werenít compatible enough for a long term relationship and begin the search for a lifetime companion anew.

I imagine if I found a primary, this equation would change. I am looking and have looked for a long time. Since I cannot make my decisions based on a hypothetical primary who may or may not suddenly appear at an unknown time, I have to strive to be happy now, which sadly I am not.

If you found yourself in this situation: how would you justify staying? How would you justify leaving? Both scenarios have me hurting.

geminigirl 12-30-2011 05:31 AM

I spent several years in your exact situation, albeit with more than one partner to whom I was "secondary". My advice to you (and what I in fact did) to cope with needs unmet is this: evaluate each relationship on its own merit, not on what you hope it might become under future circumstances. Decide if you are happy with it NOW under its current limitations and benefits. This is really what poly is all about.

If it works for you now, then great! It's a relationship that's working.. no need to fix or leave it. If it's not working, then figure out why not and maybe you can address changes with your partner. If the reason it's not working is because you only want a primary relationship, then poly (or at least being poly as a secondary partner) is very likely not for you.

One final word: become your own best friend, your own primary partner, and love yourself as much as you would a partner. This can help a lot with figuring out and fulfilling needs. Many needs we have are actually best fulfilled by ourselves and not a partner (surprise!) so the gift of time alone is actually very precious.

Good luck, and remember that not even a primary relationship can protect you from feeling lonely if you're not already secure about sometimes being alone. :)

redpepper 12-30-2011 06:15 AM

I have a few friends who are not poly but single and often not dating. They rely on friends and a solid group of chosen family to go with them to staff parties, family events etc. I admire that they are in it together and regardless of their relationship status. Perhaps creating community out of friends and chosen family would help. Being creative about who is close to you might mean that your unfulfilled need is met more regularly and your relationship with your boyfriend can stay intact at the same time.

SchrodingersCat 12-30-2011 06:43 AM


Originally Posted by geminigirl (Post 117854)
One final word: become your own best friend, your own primary partner, and love yourself as much as you would a partner. This can help a lot with figuring out and fulfilling needs. Many needs we have are actually best fulfilled by ourselves and not a partner (surprise!) so the gift of time alone is actually very precious.


Being unsatisfied as a secondary seems not so different from being unsatisfied with singledom. You need your life to be fulfilling and satisfying in and of yourself, not tied to being partnered to someone. When you have that, then your relationship status will only enhance your life, instead of trying to give it meaning.

dingedheart 12-30-2011 01:56 PM

Why or how did you become poly?

Once you started dating the current guy did you stop looking for other relationships.

How did the time split get worked out? 4 girls 7days

How old are you?

bookbug 12-30-2011 02:29 PM

Why do you have to leave the relationship in order to seek a primary? Is your SO requesting that limitation? Or do you fear that having the relationship as a secondary will make it difficult to find a primary? I don't see why they are mutually exclusive.

BigGuy 12-30-2011 02:34 PM

Is this relationship preventing you from finding what you want?

RfromRMC 12-30-2011 02:36 PM

Geminigirl basically said most of what I was going to.

1- If you see this person once a week, there's no reason that on those other 6 days a week why you can't be going out dating (just like most single people do, poly or mono) and eventually meet that ideal primary partner.

2- Until that happens, make yourself your own primary. (This is where I currently am myself.)

3- Get some hobbies and friends that share those hobbies to fill up any alone time.

I've been single for six months now about and while I haven't met anyone that I can see as a primary, there are two that I can visualize being a secondary partner to. And that's great---that's better than completely single, ya know? I say while you work to find your ultimate goal, there's no reason not to enjoy what you DO have! ;)

AnnabelMore 12-30-2011 04:35 PM

Justification for staying: If you're sad because you're lonely, how will removing an intimate relationship from your life help that in any way?? Seems totally counter productive. In what way would it make you happier? It would be like if you had a close friend who you couldn't see very often, and you wanted a best friend who could hang with you every day, so you stopped being friends with the close friend. Just sort of a sad non sequitor.

Justification for leaving: If you think that having a secondary partner is making it harder for you to find a primary, then it would make sense to go.

redpepper 12-30-2011 05:27 PM

Making yourself your own primary is number one in any relationship dynamic I think. Its step one.

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