Multi relationships (primary/implicit priorities)
Related background if necessary
My wife is obviously my highest priority, but T has always been right behind her and any other relationships I've had fell into place way behind. This isn't by design or thought, but just that spending time with them makes me the happiest.
I had assumed that I was highest on her list (besides the local bf), however, that no longer seems the case, or I'm totally mistaken about a priority list.
I'd be interested to know how you all handle multiple relationships. Is there an internal priority list? An explicit one? How do you wind up deciding who you want to spend time with? Does it wax and wane?
Do you know for a fact that your girlfriend even HAS a "list" like that? If there ever were two types of "first-world" personalities, i would say that "list-makers" vs. "non-list-makers" is at the top of that list.
That said, if your girlfriend doesn't have a list, you will never be near the top of it. But there's a mountain in New Orleans that i'd be willing to sell to you real cheap.
What about your thought process? Do you have multiple lovers, and how do you decide who you are spending time with?
Mine is always Wife > T > availability/haven't seen in a while.
Well, I'm married, have been 18 years now and have a boyfriend that will be of about two years this August. So my relationship with my hubby I call primary. We pretty much agree that it's more to do with how entwined our lives are than who I love more. I'm horrible at the idea of loving someone only so much or more or less or all of that.
As for who to spend time with, yes it waxes and wanes. I am trying to watch the waning bit. To the point that if I feel that I 'miss' hubby a bit I tell him and ask for a night of cuddling, massages, movies, or video games. Even the best of us get caught up in NRE and so yeah, the new relationship seems more 'fun'. It's work, but you can keep things balanced.
If you are feeling that you aren't getting enough attention, then you ask for it. Most of the time, if you start questioning if you are still 'primary' it's more about feeling a need or want not being met than anything. That's part of communication. Learning what you are really asking. Often, it's not the question you actually voiced.
As for how do people think of relationships, most have an aversion to using the terms primary and secondary. Feeling it's like a first place and second place thing. We've played with other terms, anchors, entwined, all of that. Really, it's just labels. I use hubby and boyfriend. Those seem to work fine!
I have a spouse partner to whom i am legally married and have been with for 13 years. Spouse and i each have one other partner. They have been together one year and i met my other partner in 1988 or 1987 and we have had a thing all along but sometimes years go by where we have no contact at all (i don't want that to happen anymore but that doesn't mean it won't), but we don't "break up". I only see Other Partner 3 or 4 times per year, because that is how often the planets line up so that we both have free time at the same time. So, i guess i could answer your question like this: when i have the opportunity to spend time with Other Partner and Spouse is also available, i would prioritize hanging out with Other Partner because our time together is so limited. In no way does this reflect upon how much i love either of them nor is it because of a "rule" or some "list" that i keep. I think of priorities within each relationship, not priorities of the two relationships relative to each other.
I think the reason people tend to have strong opinions about this "hierarchy" business and worry about "what if i'm not as good as my partner's other partner" comes from being conditioned to be competitive since the time we were small children. I can remember being drilled with things like, "we can't all be good at everything. Find what you're good at and be the BEST.". While this looks good on paper, it still sends the message that if you're not the BEST at something, you somehow failed altogether. It took me a couple of years in my early 20's to figure out that i am non-competitive by nature, which can also work against a person because employers often equate non-competitiveness and lack of ambition with laziness and apathy. But this is not about me. I'm just saying, these traits can have an effect on more than one facet of life.
I have been with my boyfriend for 20 years tomorrow.
I have been with my husband for 15 years as of March 12th... Married for 14 come this July.
Priority-my kids, because they don't get to choose what they are dealing with.
After the kids, my priorities are based upon a conglomeration of things, the most important being level of need.
So for example: if my brother or sister is having a crisis-they are more important than either of my lovers if they are not in crisis.
IF both of my lovers and the kids were in a car accident and in critical condition at the hospitals, I would be with my youngest child and my sister or brother would be with the oldest child. My lovers would be shit out of luck-other family members would be there for them.
IF both of my lovers were in an accident and in critical condition, I would alternate between the two.
Most of our time is spent as a family unit. One on one time for couples is delegated by time availability.
For years that meant my boyfriend got more time with me outside of sleep. But, in the last year, I have been able to have regular once a week dates with my husband-and none with my boyfriend. This is due to the conflict between my boyfriends work schedule, my school schedule and the kids school schedule. Shrug-it will come around again at some point I'm sure.
I agree with BG that people are entwined in their minds with the idea of being at the top of the priority list. But in my experience, that spot rotates around with need and circumstance-frequently. It seems to me that trying to hold on to being in it always is an effort in futility and that believing one is in that role always is an avoidance of reality-creating a mirage for comfort.
I know I am always important to my loves. But, there are times when I am certainly not at the top of the list. Hell-when GG wrecked the car with all 3 kids at that time in it-I wasn't even in the top 5 of the list for Maca or GG! Shrug.
I find it more important that whilst we are doing something intimate we are focused on one another and that we all consider our family dynamic and the people in it to be in our high priorities. Details of where-blah..
Thanks for all the responses. All this is very new and being a LDR makes it that much harder.
I have no hierarchy. I love my husband and boyfriend equally. My home life sometimes takes a little more of my time and attention because we have children and intertwined resources.
But my husband's wants and needs do not supersede those of my boyfriend.
I am solo and my relationships tend to be more casual, but I would never use a hierarchy. Whenever I've had multiple lovers at one time, each of them are as important as any of the other(s). When I am with one, I focus on that one. When making dates or scheduling time to be with someone, I just look at my availability and schedule time on a "first-come, first-served" basis. I would never, ever want to make a "list" to prioritize who is more important than the other, nor would I like being on someone's list like that. I prefer a more organic, spontaneous approach, like simply seeing who needs me/asks me out/is available first. Hierarchies bug me.
This reminds me of a lesson that my boys recently reinforced to me:
Fair =/= Equal.
They each need different things from me at different times - based on our relationships and their particular "love languages" (if you haven't run into this particular meme before, I would look into it). Fair is attending to each of their needs as they come up - NOT making sure that each gets the exact same time/affection/sex as the other.
I agree with LR in the whole "level of need" concept. If MrS is in a "temporary tizzy" about something relatively unimportant (in the grand scheme of things) that he will get over with/or without me, and Dude is having an "existential crisis of epic proportions" ...then I will acknowledge MrS's angst but focus my attentions on Dude's crisis.
I don't have kids, but if I did then then would be my primary priority. My "chosen family" (Dude and MrS) comes next. Then my bio-family. Then my friends. BUT if someone further down on the list has a "need" for my attention and the others have a "want"?...needs trump wants. (This is further mitigated by the fact that my friends/family would never ask me for something that wasn't super important - I am a lucky girl in this regard.)
Every other possible thing being equal (which it never is! - this is like asking a person to chose between their children!) then, yes - 20+ year husband would trump 2+ year boyfriend. But they both love me (and each other) enough that that they would each insist that I attend to the other one first. I don't love either of them "more" - I love each of them "different" - because they are different people.
I view our situation as "working towards co-primary" - I have been with MrS for 20+ years and Dude for just over 2. This DOES come into play once in a while. Dude is well "ahead" of where MrS was at the 2 year mark. But MrS has a 20 year headstart on "getting" me while Dude and I are still learning about each other (and getting it "wrong" a certain percentage of the time).
PS. If MrS and I weren't so totally on the same page 95+% of the time, this thing with Dude would never have happened. I think that that does deserve some acknowledgement - he deserves to have his insecurities addressed when it comes up. On the other hand, Dude agreed to have a relationship with someone who already had obligations to another - he might have to have his fears related to his "temporary secondary-ship" assuaged periodically.
You don't jump from "live-in boyfriend" to "life partner ensured of life-long support" in a minute/hour/day/year...MrS didn't and Dude won't either. It may be easier the second time around (on my end) but you don't get an automatic "Pass Go - Collect $200" just because I am willing to consider you as a candidate for life-long partnership...you still have to prove your worthiness AS a life-long partner (as do I).
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