Should I be a secondary while I am still single?
I am 38 and single and a lesbian. Right now I am in the "stray single" situation evaluating whether I would get involved with women who are married and polyamorous. I seem to click better with attached bi women than with other lesbians and the lesbian monogamy model has been utterly suffocating and dysfunctional to me. I almost feel like I'm poly at this point because of monogamy PTSD... just some seriously bad situations in monogamous relationships and I'm reluctant to ever be in one again.
To be true to myself: I would very much like to live with the right person and share my life with them, with the commitment between us and the option of being close to other people as well.
To be true to my circumstances: there are plenty of people available if I am willing to be a secondary *only*. It's like needing a full time job but only temporary and part time jobs are available. In one or two of these cases, I am willing and care for these people and would like to see where it goes.
The trouble is - I don't really feel very hopeful that I will find someone of my own, and when I think about the other women being happy at home with their husbands, I feel envious.
Not jealous - not in an emotional or sexual way - but envious about having a home, and security, and a love to live with, and feeling like this is going to be much, much harder for me to find first of all because I am 38 and secondly because I'm gay and thirdly because I am an odd person who's had difficulty living with others in the past, so I don't know if I'm even primary partner material anymore.
It just brings up these issues - wondering if I will ever achieve any of my dreams. Many of the things I want (due to costs and such) are not as possible on my own as they would be with a mate.
I am also afraid that I will never have someone in my life for whom I am first priority... I will always be the person who is there when hubby isn't around :/
I would argue that the reason you're finding difficulty in the monogamy world is not because you're a lesbian and/or dating other lesbians, but because you aren't finding the right people. I don't know your personality (introvert? extrovert?) but it sounds like you're picking people you clash with.
To take a page from GG (and hopefully she'll correct me if I screw this up), there are quite a few different relationship dynamics even when it's just you and one other person.
You to You (yourself as part of a larger couple)
GF to GF (how they are as part of the larger couple)
You to GF
GF to You
You + GF (as a team)
First you need to figure out the You to You part. How do you act when you're in a relationship? Do you take the alpha spot and make decisions and plans and organize? Do you take a back seat? Do you prefer lots of contact? Lots of space? What makes it work for you? What don't you like?
With almost every relationship that fails, the major building block that's missing is communication. Do you effectively tell your significant others that you are feeling smothered? Do you tell them that you don't want to be that close all the time? How do you tell them? Do you yell it at them during a fight or sit them down and say, "I can't do this for you. I love you, but this makes me squeamish. I know it's not you, I know it's me, but we have to have a middle ground."
Stop worrying so much about if you have a house/car/white picket fence/a cat/a dog/flowers in your garden/stuff you can only have with a partner. You're putting way too much pressure on any future prospects. Like them for who they are, and if they become life-long significant other material, then you'll get what you wanted.
On to your other question: No, I do not think you should be a secondary without a primary. Not because I don't think that dynamic can't work (I'm sure it can), but you already answered how it will make you feel. Like someone that only gets attention when hubby isn't around.
KyleKat lays it out tier wise if you are looking to be one on one with someone.
Like in a Closed Duo. Where you are each other's primary people.
You also sound like you want to be Open to other loves, but to maybe to start with you want to get the primary thing nailed.
I'd go seek it then, and nail it!
38 is hardly doddering. There's lots of people in late 30's and early 40's starting over with second chances. Why not you?
If you can handle a secondary relationship in the meanwhile and keep it secondary -- cool. You get some companionship while on the seeking journey and dating others. But if your personality is such to where you end up pining and wishing the secondary would... "primary-ify" and you hang around waiting and this is keeping you from the seeking... then better to be honest with yourself and just be alone while seeking without a secondary.
That's something only you can answer for yourself because you know you best.
Some great points brought up already.
Here's my take on this - ok, so your ideal is to be in a live-in arrangement with someone, and then have other lovers, but what you are asking here (as I understand it) is whether you should have secondary relationships while you are waiting for that person to come along.
Well, two points - first, if they are going to give you an increase in your happiness and help you learn more about yourself, then why not?
Second, since you self-identify as poly, presumably you would want to carry that on even after you have found a live-in mate - so that wouldn't necessarily mean calling an end to your secondary relationships, right? (Presumably these people aren't wanting you to be a secondary to them and have no other relationships - that's kind of unrealistic on their part, if you are not happy with that).
I spent some time in only secondary relationships. It gave me the benefits of being both single and in a relationship! I got to learn some solid life skills and self sufficiency, while still having companionship, connections, and sex.
But I had to be pretty committed to the idea of spending some time as single, first. Once I liked that pretty well, then I was able to adjust, and okay, explore some secondary relationships, without feeling too lonesome or unimportant. My primary was myself.
But if you don't like the idea of being single, then I don't recommend it. It did get a little lonesome sometimes, especially around the holidays.
This all seems really sensible.
I guess what I'm wanting is to be part of a household - knowing my partner and I are really committed to each other, regardless of who else adds to our gestalt. I would not mind being part of a household. I want the "marriage/house/comfort/long term" kind of life that everyone else seemingly gets to have. I'm open to considering being "someone's other spouse" as long as I get to be a spouse at some point in my life!
There may be some inherent imbalance here because I'm lesbian, though, not bi.
I find it interesting that you refer to yourself (in this thread and another post of yours) as a "stray single," which makes me thing of a stray dog without a home. It is clear in your first post in this thread that you want a committed partner to cohabit and share your life with, but I think your work starts with being happy now as a single person. Or call yourself solo, like I and some others do - it has a much better connotation. To me, calling oneself single, in this society, implies "until I'm not single anymore." But being solo means being unabashedly content to be independent and free!
Accept and find satisfaction in the here and now of your life as it is!!!
In another thread, just a month ago, you wrote:
You are lovable, but you need to love yourself first! Nobody wants a project in love relationships, but strong, confident, happy single people are very attractive. Then you will find people who gravitate toward you for healthy reasons, and you will have a strong foundation in your love for yourself and satisfaction with life just as it is, to make good choices about whom to involve yourself with, based on who they are and how they treat you, rather than what category they fall into in the poly world.
When hope is lost all else fails. Don't give up hope!
I get the sense from reading this thread and other things you've posted on the forum that you are considering secondary relationships with women not because you want and enjoy that kind of relationship but because you feel, deep down, it's the best you can get. I believe you would ultimately be miserable as a secondary. (Just my opinion, I could be wildly wrong.)
What you really want is a committed primary relationship, living together, building a life together. Perhaps that relationship is poly or open, or perhaps not. That's not important in this context.
If being in a secondary relationship makes you feel shitty, unloveable, and generally not as good, don't enter into a secondary relationship. (Kind of the reverse of CielduMatin's advice.) You're not doing yourself any favors nor are you doing a solid to potential secondary partners.
Value yourself enough to go for what you really, truly, want and desire most. A committed primary relationship with another woman. It may feel impossible and unachievable. That is false. Get yourself out there, push yourself to meet people. I'm introverted and a bit odd - it's not easy. Do it anyway.
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