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-   -   Secondary Relationship Card (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20315)

SchrodingersCat 01-19-2012 05:34 PM

Secondary Relationship Card
 
It's funny.

BrigidsDaughter 01-19-2012 07:24 PM

Interesting and provocative. If we were to use labels, Wendigo and my relationship would be considered secondary (because we live with, pay bills with, and have kids with our spouses) and my relationship with Pretty Lady would be considered tertiary (because she does not have the time to invest in a secondary relationship). Of all of those things, our only expectation is that we have to keep our relationship secret from our family and 99% of our friends.

It's funny because about a month after we became involved we were at a fighter practice/pool party with our friends and Wendigo had to leave early to go to work. He pulled me aside and asked if we were so far on the DL that he couldn't even get a hug good bye. The following year at the same event, he let me climb on his back and pretend to try to drown him.... at first we were so full of NRE and desire, that we'd lock down our feelings; then we realized that was probably even more suspicious.

ray 01-23-2012 06:02 AM

Oh man, so sad but so true sometimes. That was a lot of how my relationship was. It was definitely no fun. I know that in reality there are actual good secondary relationships but I just haven't witness one IRL and certainly not experienced it myself.

redpepper 01-26-2012 05:19 AM

Oh man is that hitting home right now. Thanks for this. reposting in my blog.

SchrodingersCat 01-28-2012 06:39 AM

Yeah I really hate using the Primary/Secondary labels myself, even as a "quick and dirty" description of my circumstances.

I have a friend who recently referred to my husband in a sentence along the lines of "yeah, but, you have a primary, so it's different."

And this was someone who claims to be of the more progressive poly type.

Yes, I'm married. Yes, we share finances and a household. Yes, that means I have obligations and commitments to him. I also have obligations and commitments to school, to my parents, to my best friend and her son... And if I get into a serious relationship with someone else, I will have obligations and commitments to them. And triage will go thusly: who's having the bigger crisis right now and needs my time and attention most, at this moment?

It does not mean that I have already decided, a priori, that all my future relationships will be "less important." It does not mean that anyone will ever be considered disposable, simply by virtue of not being my spouse. I didn't roll that way when I was single, why would that change now?

RfromRMC 01-30-2012 06:45 PM

Yeah, I wouldn't agree to anything on that list. Maybe being kept secret from coworkers is fine, but otherwise, nothing on that list I'd agree to.
Nor would I expect from another!

MeeraReed 01-30-2012 08:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat (Post 122394)

I have a friend who recently referred to my husband in a sentence along the lines of "yeah, but, you have a primary, so it's different."

And this was someone who claims to be of the more progressive poly type.

I have to say, SC, I am genuinely puzzled by your reaction.

Why would your friend's comment bother you? Having a primary really IS different.

It seems like a pretty innocuous comment. I doubt she meant to imply that your other relations are unimportant or disposable.

While I was amused by the Secondary Relationships Card, I also feel like...I don't quite get it somehow, or I have a totally different understanding of what it means to be a secondary.

If I were a secondary to a married man with kids, for example, I certainly would not expect (or want!) to join him for family vacations or holidays.

I have my own friends to go on vacation with, and my own family to spend holidays with.

I would expect my partner to prioritize his primary relationship. I would not, in fact, be comfortable in the relationship if he were NOT putting his wife's needs first.

(Even if I were in a monogamous relationship with a divorced man, I would expect him to prioritize his kids' needs, for example, and I would not expect to join him at holidays unless our relationship became VERY serious).

I would not enter into a secondary relationship if I were expecting or wanting to get pregnant. And anyone who dumps you if you get pregnant is an asshole, regardless of polyamory or primary/secondary relationships. So I don't see how that quite applies to secondary relationships in particular.

If my relationship caused drama or problems with the primary couple, I would WANT to remove myself from the situation. I would expect my partner to end things with me if I caused problems with his wife.

Of course I wouldn't want to be valued less or respected less--but it seems to me like the POINT of a secondary relationship is that it truly is of secondary importance.

And I think that's a good thing! Secondary relationships should enrich the lives of those in them, but shouldn't BE your life the same way a primary partner IS your life.

I'm speaking as someone who wants (or might want) to be a secondary or even a tertiary. I regard myself (or maybe my writing) as my own primary relationship and I have no interest in sharing my life with a primary boyfriend.

But, so far I've been reluctant to seek out poly relationships because I think I might be missing the point and might not really "get" poly the way poly people get it. I think I would make an ideal secondary, but maybe my guy wouldn't appreciate feeling like he's only secondary to my life as well.

And judging from the reaction I got when I mentioned to my own friends and one close family member that I might go on a date with a married poly man, I will probably be keeping it a secret for a while. The date never even came about, but, wow, was it hard to explain. So it's not unreasonable to have to keep a secondary relationship secret for a long while.

It just seems to me like if you are at the point where you go on family vacations, are public to everyone about your relationship, and are committed enough to go through with a pregnancy together, you're a co-primary, not a secondary.

Here's what seems odd to me about poly relationships (or with the way many poly people talk about relationships): it seems like the relationships are not allowed to pass through a non-serious phase before becoming serious.

In monogamous dating, it's (usually) okay for a relationship to take a long time to get serious, right? But in poly, if you don't immediately include your secondary on family vacations, you're disrespected him/her.

And going back to what I quoted above: I have observed this kind of thing a number of times in the various poly communities/forums I'm exploring. A poly person takes offense at some sort of comment which they perceive as non-poly-friendly, and then they scoff at how the person who made the comment thinks they are so open-minded.

I honestly don't get what bothered you about your friend's comment, SC? Is there more context you can explain?

nycindie 01-30-2012 09:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 122883)
Having a primary really IS different.

It seems like a pretty innocuous comment. I doubt she meant to imply that your other relations are unimportant or disposable.

Hope you don't mind my chiming in. It all depends on how the primary relationship is different from others. If it's simply a designation of shared households and parenting, or how much time can be spent together, sure it's different. But far too many people do feel that secondary relationships are disposable and less important when they say things like that.

Personally, I don't subscribe to hierarchical arrangements myself, because as a solo, I view all my love relationships as equally important. But I wouldn't mind, in fact I welcome, the opportunity to be a secondary to someone who has a partner - provided I do not feel like I'm being treated as a secondary in the ways that the term is often used. I was not amused by the card. I feel like it is a sad commentary on how to bungle a relationship.

Quote:

Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 122883)
While I was amused by the Secondary Relationships Card, I also feel like...I don't quite get it somehow, or I have a totally different understanding of what it means to be a secondary.

If I were a secondary to a married man with kids, for example, I certainly would not expect (or want!) to join him for family vacations or holidays.

I have my own friends to go on vacation with, and my own family to spend holidays with.

I wouldn't necessarily, either, at least not in the beginning stages. But if I were in a tight relationship with someone as his secondary and had befriended his primary, and built a friendly relationship with any kids he has, after a period of time, I think it would be nice to be able to vacation together, whether I act on that option or not. I mean, you spend 2, 5, or 10 years in relationship with someone, it shouldn't matter that he considers his spouse as a primary at that point. If you all get along and want to go somewhere together, my designation as a secondary should not automatically preclude me from that. I guess for some polyfolk, it does, at least often enough to be on that card.
Quote:

Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 122883)
If my relationship caused drama or problems with the primary couple, I would WANT to remove myself from the situation. I would expect my partner to end things with me if I caused problems with his wife.

How would you cause problems for the wife... by existing? I believe it is up to the guy you get involved with to manage all his relationships with each partner, not let one dictate the other.
Quote:

Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 122883)
Of course I wouldn't want to be valued less or respected less--but it seems to me like the POINT of a secondary relationship is that it truly is of secondary importance.

I couldn't accept that to be a secondary. I want to be valued, respected, AND acknowledged as just as important (if, and that is a big IF, the relationship reaches that "serious" point and we do have a commitment to each other). For me, being someone's secondary might just mean that he would not make decisions about my life, and there would be no mingling of funds, or co-managing a household (although there are possibilities for that as a secondary, too, I would imagine), but I couldn't stand to be considered less important. That doesn't mean I'd expect the same or equal amount of time as a spouse, but I want to be as important in terms of consideration for my feelings, mostly. I just posted this in another thread:
Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 122879)
As I see it, married people who choose to have polyamorous relationships are also choosing a responsibility to all the people they are involved with, not just their spouses. If I get involved with someone who has a partner, my main boundary for myself is that no metamours can set rules for my relationships.

The above is very important to me.
Quote:

Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 122883)
Secondary relationships should enrich the lives of those in them, but shouldn't BE your life the same way a primary partner IS your life.

... It just seems to me like if you are at the point where you go on family vacations, are public to everyone about your relationship, and are committed enough to go through with a pregnancy together, you're a co-primary, not a secondary.

Well, this is how you view primary/secondary arrangements, and I am sure you will meet others who feel the same.

Quote:

Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 122883)
Here's what seems odd to me about poly relationships (or with the way many poly people talk about relationships): it seems like the relationships are not allowed to pass through a non-serious phase before becoming serious.

In monogamous dating, it's (usually) okay for a relationship to take a long time to get serious, right? But in poly, if you don't immediately include your secondary on family vacations, you're disrespected him/her.

Yes, I have seen that tendency as well, especially with those people who come here and say, "we want to find someone to move into our household and live with us." How silly. But yeah, I don't understand why it seems that you have to go from zero to 60 mph in an instant, just because you're poly. People seem to think that it's a serious relationship after four months, when I think I would still barely know the person at that point. I'm all for nurturing a relationship for at least a year before considering it "serious."

However, I think that card is directed at established secondary relationships, not really new ones.

Quote:

Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 122883)
I honestly don't get what bothered you about your friend's comment, SC? Is there more context you can explain?

I think SC explained it really well:
Quote:

Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat (Post 122394)
Yes, I'm married. Yes, we share finances and a household. Yes, that means I have obligations and commitments to him. I also have obligations and commitments to school, to my parents, to my best friend and her son... And if I get into a serious relationship with someone else, I will have obligations and commitments to them. And triage will go thusly: who's having the bigger crisis right now and needs my time and attention most, at this moment?

It does not mean that I have already decided, a priori, that all my future relationships will be "less important." It does not mean that anyone will ever be considered disposable, simply by virtue of not being my spouse. I didn't roll that way when I was single, why would that change now?

And, I have to say, it warmed my heart to read it! I am so happy to see that someone feels this way. I didn't roll that way when I was single either. It is in keeping with how I approach poly as a solo. If I were married and pursuing poly relationships outside my marriage, I would see it the same way. This gives me hope that there are other married poly peeps out there whose philosophies are compatible with mine, so maybe I won't have to keep turning people down because they tell me their wife will always be their first priority.

SourGirl 01-30-2012 09:49 PM

Good thoughts MeeraReed !


From my own experience, this line of thinking,(Secondary relationship card) is why I say being poly is more then just the ability to love more then one person.
Love I can do.
The desire or motivation to have more then one person in a serious relationship context ?..I don`t have that. Zero desire. My primary I do more with, love more, and want to spend more time with them then anyone else. Not because of shared bills/children/home, or loyalty, or because it is expected,...but because ...I really do. Since I recognized that, life has been much better, and I generally attract more like-minded people to me. I still attract poly women, but being aware of how they operate, and them being aware of how I operate, has really worked much better then the demands/compromise scenario.

I`d rather be known as an honest open-person, who only has so much invested in outside people, then the jerk poly-person who treats a 'secondary' badly.

MeeraReed 01-31-2012 09:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 122889)

I think SC explained it really well:And, I have to say, it warmed my heart to read it! I am so happy to see that someone feels this way. I didn't roll that way when I was single either. It is in keeping with how I approach poly as a solo. If I were married and pursuing poly relationships outside my marriage, I would see it the same way. This gives me hope that there are other married poly peeps out there whose philosophies are compatible with mine, so maybe I won't have to keep turning people down because they tell me their wife will always be their first priority.

No, I don't think SC explained it well, that's why I asked for more info.

I understand why SC is offended that people would assume her "secondary" relationships are less important than her relationship with her husband.

BUT there was nothing in her friend's comment to indicate that her friend was actually making those assumptions.


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