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-   -   Attention Secondaries (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=26868)

redpepper 08-21-2012 12:00 AM

Attention Secondaries
How are you?

Apparently this forum is seen as primary heavy. So let's talk to the secondaries... If you, dear reader were to do a tag search for "secondaries" or "secondary" you would see years worth of tagged threads where secondary status is well discussed. On my blog I discuss it at length as do others on theirs. Things eb and flow on here and things go in and out of fashion to talk about. If there are people discussing in PM how dismayed they are that the topic of "secondaries" hasn't been discussed to its full advantage then let's have at er. I mean we're poly right. Communicate. After all, this forum is what you make it. The only way stuff happens if you start talking. This forum is a big relationship platform to me. No different from any other relationship. Stuff needs talking out sometimes.

So what up?! Let's talk about what's concerning secondaires.

KyleKat 08-21-2012 02:38 AM

I normally talk about my primary relationship and try to balance my discussions between primary and secondary in my blog. Since it's been a couple hours and no one has responded, I'll start this out.

In the past 6 months I have had 3 separate "secondary" relationships begin to form. One of them fizzled because I was asked to focus on my marriage and by the time I was able to return my attention to the girl, it didn't seem right anymore. Another, the girl backed away from me because I was coming on too strong, and the third, I messed up big time and scared my primary because I was getting too close to my secondary.

In all three of these scenarios, I was acting like a primary towards what was supposed to be a secondary situation. I am having an incredibly difficult time not coming on too strong and not becoming attached too easily. I know most people take relationships slowly and build into them, but I am able to form attachments extremely strongly and quickly. In mono relationships this is fine because you're spending all your time with the other person, so they develop their feelings quicker too, but when you're only seeing someone once a week, it kind of freaks them out when you move ahead quicker than they are willing, emotionally.

As a secondary, how the hell do you pace yourself and remind yourself that this isn't a race and to be patient and let things form naturally and fluidly? It's killing me to know that I pushed away two girls I REALLY liked. There's currently another girl that is a potential match for me and I'm already feeling like "why isn't she messaging me back?". Ugh.

This is seriously worse than not being able to find someone.

redpepper 08-21-2012 02:33 PM

I became a secondary to a man who is married with a small child this last spring. The first situation like this one ended in disaster (as you can read in my blog from Jan 2012 on). This time around I am pacing myself by holding back my feelings and requests of him. I have strong feelings but I am working first on my metamour relationship. I want that to be solid first before making requests and sharing too many feelings.

So far she is very receptive and we get along well. I have found that by going about it this way she is much more willing to be giving about how much time I spend with her husband and what the activities are that we do. She wants us to succeed and has invested interest in us succeeding now as her son likes me, her husband is happy, she has someone to talk to about her own bf and I come along with some pretty amazing friend potential as I have three other partners and an awesome circle of friends. My success with her husband is something that she also benefits from. I like knowing that :)

lionessjlf 08-21-2012 03:32 PM

Years ago before my current marriage I was a secondary to a married woman. I became very close to her husband on a platonic, spiritual level. I found by 'including' him in my life was beneficial to us all. It enabled me to have even more respect for their marriage, their time alone together. I didn't intrude with their family time. He didn't intrude in our time. It was a mutual friendship and full of respect for each other. I ideally would expect the same of any secondary coming into my life now. I have to agree that forming a friendship with your partners SO is the key to a successful relationship as a secondary. I really doubt things would have gone as smoothly had I been constantly calling her and trying to take her attention away from him or if I hadn't liked him at all, I probably would have ended the relationship.

nycindie 08-21-2012 11:10 PM

I'm not sure I qualify to add anything here, as I was only a secondary briefly (a few months), when I was seeing Burnsy. Well, it was long distance, so most of our relationship was conducted via emails, texts, and phone calls, and I ended it shortly after we spent a weekend together. Mostly, I felt he that had not resolved enough stuff within his marriage, and issues he had with his wife, for us to continue. I wanted to know if he was ready for some kind of commitment to me, and a readiness or desire to "invest" in a relationship with me, even if somewhat casual -- but he couldn't even answer me. At the time, he was trying to wrap his head around the impact on his marriage of his wife having a very steady lover and starting up with a new one, and I don't think he was handling it as well as he pretended to be. It was pretty evident that he was seeking other relationships just to even the score, so I let him go.

I am now developing another LDR with a married poly guy -- which means I would be his secondary -- and I like the vibe I get from him, although I find the sporadic contact hasn't let me really get to know him as much as I would like. So, I am going to make more effort with that. He seems to approach poly in a way that appeals to me. Very loose with not a lot of rules.

I don't like hierarchies myself, and would not set any of my lovers as primary, secondary, etc., but I am okay with being someone else's secondary as long as my own boundaries are respected. I don't have that many. I just don't want to feel like a secondary when I am with a lover - ew, who would?

What is most important to me is that my relationship is allowed to blossom and grow and not be hemmed in by someone outside of the relationship, as in a metamour who is primary. Aside from time constraints, or certain restrictions on how demonstrative we can be in public, which are totally reasonable if a guy is married with a family, no wife or primary partner is going to dictate rules for how I can be in relationship with someone. I just don't want anyone saying what I am "allowed" to do in bed, what I can talk about, what feelings I can express - that's all so silly and petty to me. I figure anyone who wants that much control over their partner and thinks their dynamic shouldn't change at all with the addition of new people just shouldn't even consider poly. Oops, rant over. Another boundary of mine is that I never want to feel like I'm just a whore used for sex. I want a real relationship with someone willing to invest fully in being with me when we're together, even though we may have much time apart. Spend time with me not having sex, get to know me.

I suspect that a lot of problems people have as secondaries could stem from not having clear personal boundaries, and thinking that one must always defer to whatever the primary wants. I want a voice, and believe that a primary also has to respect and consider a secondary's boundaries and then they should all work together to make sure everyone is satisfied with the parameters.

WhatHappened 08-27-2012 03:41 AM

My current concern as a secondary: emotions.

My feeling is that relationships typically end or move forward, including growing and deeper emotions and attachments.

In the past, BF has run into problems in his secondary relationships when his girlfriends fall in love and suddenly start to have trouble with the fact that he's married. I said I fear this becoming an issue with us, too, if I let my emotions grow.

He got agitated, ironically while telling me we can control our emotions, that we can have emotional boundaries as well as physical.

I find this unrealistic, to expect to continue a relationship into forever, as he very much wants us to do, and think that we can decide exactly what and how much we'll feel. (How often do people talk on here about being told they can have sex, but not fall in love?)

I find it sad to contemplate a relationship in which two people spend a great deal of time together and are physically involved, but in which emotions are not meant to go past a certain point. It feels a little bit cold to me.

I agree with him, however, that we have some control over our feelings, and since that conversation, I feel myself pulling back emotionally. I'm not quite as eager to spend time with someone who thinks that I can spend a ton of time with him, be physical with him, and yet, not feel too much for him. That's not who I am.

I confess I'm a little irritated at his insinuation that someone might be 'out of control' if they actually feel too much or fall in love with someone with whom they have emotional and physical intimacy, and with whom they spend a great deal of time. To me, it is natural and good to have growing feelings in that situation.

I'm left feeling he wants to have his cake and eat it, too: have his wife, and have his girlfriend and have it all go on just like this forever without me going and screwing things up with those messy human emotions.

Is this what others expect from secondary relationships, to have growing intimacy, emotionally and physically, without growing emotions?

AnnabelMore 08-27-2012 04:51 AM

Er, considering that my blog in the Life Stories section is entitled "story of a secondary", I'm not really sure what to say to the idea that these boards are "primary heavy". Let people think what they may, it's not like it's true. How could it be? After all, if, say, you're a married person with a bf or gf with whom you have a lesser degree of commitment, you are both a primary and a secondary because you have both a primary and a secondary relationship! It's not like the bf or gf is the only one in the secondary position in that scenario!! Remember everybody, these terms describe the level of involvement and commitment within a given relationship, and it takes two to tango (when it comes to dyads, anyway ;)).

AnnabelMore 08-27-2012 04:58 AM

"Is this what others expect from secondary relationships, to have growing intimacy, emotionally and physically, without growing emotions?"

No. Frankly, I think he's being willfully obtuse, or else just very dense. This has happened over and over, and yet he insists he's being the sensible one? No. Emotions happen, and they're normal, natural, and healthy.

A secondary relationship simply means one in which you are close and yet are not building a life together. It's about the degree of involvement. Any conditions you add after that are simply baggage that the term doesn't, in itself, imply. If you want that baggage, then cool, own it. But don't pretend it just comes with the territory, because it doesn't have to Iit doesn't in my secondary relationship with my married gf!). Maybe you two can never become involved to the degree that he and his wife are involved in each others day to day lives, but that's no reason to have to limit your feelings for each other. Two people can be deeply in love and yet not share their lives on a day to day basis. What is he afraid of?

WhatHappened 08-27-2012 05:09 AM


Originally Posted by AnnabelMore (Post 150695)
"Is this what others expect from secondary relationships, to have growing intimacy, emotionally and physically, without growing emotions?"

No. Frankly, I think he's being willfully obtuse, or else just very dense. This has happened over and over, and yet he insists he's being the sensible one? No. Emotions happen, and they're normal, natural, and healthy.

... What is he afraid of?

Thank you for your answer. Having no prior experience with open marriages or polyamory, I'm not always sure if things are really viewed that differently.

I think he's afraid of the depth of his own emotions.

He's afraid of losing me. I think he knows I'm right, because he's already seen it happen with former girlfriends who had no prior experience with polyamory, when they become too emotionally invested, could no longer deal with him being married, and they end up breaking up with him.

He's been pretty upfront in saying this time it matters a great deal more to him.

I think he spoke in agitation and fear, saying things he wouldn't have necessarily said in calmer moments.

AnnabelMore 08-27-2012 05:26 AM

I guess the question is, do you think you and he could embrace loving each other, without needing to change the relationship to be more primary (day to day shared decision making, living together, shared finances, maybe children, etc) in ways that his marriage might not be able to shift/open to make room for?

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