Polyamory.com Forum

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-   -   Bewildered... (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=45377)

leelee22 04-23-2013 12:31 AM

After reading a few introductions, I feel like it would take months of research to learn all the terminology needed to describe oneself here!

I'm Leelee, and I think what I am is the "secondary" to a person who has a "primary".

I am a (divorced) single woman. My lover is a man in a long-term relationship with a woman. They had a monogamous relationship for many years, but decided a few months ago to turn it into a sort of open relationship. I say "sort of" because it's only open on HIS side, i.e., his partner is not interested in any other partners, which he is happy about, because he's not sure he'd like it if she were. He is allowed to have male and/or female secondary partners, but she is entitled to ask him anything she wants about those relationships. I am the first "secondary", supposedly. I haven't met his primary and he doesn't want me to meet her. He says she wouldn't want to meet me.

One of the first things I read when I first checked out this site was David Noble's "So somebody called you a Unicorn Hunter" article. It made me sad. What he wrote about these "unicorns" that people are supposedly looking for sounded alot like my situation. I have no say in the terms of my relationship with my lover -- his primary gets to dictate when he can and can't see me, what we can do together (sex only; "socializing" like going out for a drink or for dinner is forbidden), etcetera. I didn't get to negotiate ANYTHING about the relationship, and I constantly wonder when his "primary" is going to pull the plug on things. Sometimes I even wonder if she actually exists, or if he is making her up. If she DOES exist, she seems to view me as a sort of free service provider that takes care of her husband's sexual needs for him so that she doesn't have to.

I guess this introduction sounds pretty miserable. My first impression of polyamory is pretty negative, I think. Objectively I can understand it -- my ex had lots of mistresses and he was constantly lying about it. I'm not sure monogamy comes naturally to many men. For a couple to accept that and to negotiate other partners in a honest way does seem like a good thing. But from my perspective, my position in this thing has many negatives and very few benefits.


NutBusterX 04-23-2013 08:05 PM

Hi Lee,
I'm Jim. Welcome to the forum. Poly is not intended to be a lifestyle that makes someone feel bad about themselves or their relationship, in my view. My sympathies go out to you for feeling the way you do.

"Secondary" can be a misleading, and often misused term, I think. Some folks will use the term "Other Significant Other (OSO)." The key word in that term is "Significant." If you were treated as "Significant" rather than "Secondary" your story would be much more positive and uplifting. There's no requirement here to be positive, or uplifting, in terms of the forum. In your relationship, though, do you not have a right to be significant and therefore feel rewarded and cherished? It's always difficult to get a true picture of a relationship in an introduction, but my vote is that you clearly deserve better than what you're getting. It is very much achievable, and many poly people consider all of their partners to be valued equally. I wish you the best luck in attaining that quality of love.

I think you will find plenty of resources here to aid you in your relationship, or in learning to expect and even find a better one. :)

BoringGuy 04-23-2013 08:32 PM

It sounds like you entered into this relationship with your eyes open knowing how it would be. You haven't been with this person for very long, and according to the story he gave you, they don't have much experience with nonmonogamy. You clearly are not happy with this situation. He sounds like a douche to me the way you described it. Now i'm expecting you to come back and say that he's not like anyone you've ever met, he makes you feel like no one ever has before, if only he'd chaaaaaaaange and if only his wife would stop being a controlling harpy.

Am i getting this?

Janelle 04-23-2013 08:42 PM

Welcome Leelee,
Im sorry your experience has been difficult. I hate the term secondary. I beleive you are in a V relationship with the guy as the hinge. I am in the same relationship and I am also the OSO. I had some of your same concerns yet not to your extent. Rules and conditions have to be discussed ahead of time and even then they may get misunderstood along the way. Positive,open, honest communication is what helps to sustain IMO. Maybe you can talk to him tell him how you feel, let him know what your feelings are.


I didn't get to negotiate ANYTHING about the relationship
Would you accept this in any other relationship? (ie family trip,business)


she seems to view me as a sort of free service provider that takes care of her husband's sexual needs for him so that she doesn't have to.
Until you said those words I didn't realize that this is something I provide also but I also get other benefits of an actual relationship that I cherish and enjoy. You have to remember this is your relationship also, and If you are not getting what you want out of it, then express that and possibly renogotiate the terms of the relationship.

What do I know Im just a beginner, some really awesome people will be along shortly.
Best of luck to you!

BoringGuy 04-23-2013 08:47 PM

Also, where the heck did you get the idea that polyamory means having lots of mistresses and lying about it?

So you went from being the wife who was being lied to about the mistresses to being the mistress who is being lied to about the wife? And someone told you that this "is" polyamory?

You could memorize every definition in the glossary and you still would not have the right words to describe this fucked-up situation.

Oh and before people crawl up my ass for judging and assuming, let me tell you a little secret about myself. My mother became involved with a married man when i was 10 or 12. They were together until she died when i was 30 (that's a long time). Supposedly, the "story" was that they slept in separate rooms, had DADT (don't ask don't tell), and were staying together "because of the kids". Well, the "kids" are now in their 40's, as i am. To this day i wonder if that man was telling the truth about any of that. So i think i am very qualified to have a strong opinion about situations similar to this.

That said, my mother was content with their relationship and if he lied, he was a good liar and i'm pretty sure he came and went as he chose, not as his wife decreed. Your situation sounds untenable. The sex must be incredible because i can't think of why else you'd put up with this bullshit.

kdt26417 04-23-2013 10:32 PM

Hi Lee,
Welcome to our forum.

It makes me sad to hear about your situation, it doesn't sound like you have any rights. You're not just an object, you're a person; you deserve to be treated like a person.

I don't want to tell you what to do in your situation, but it seems inevitable that you'll reach the point where you'll say, "I can't do this anymore." Then you'll have to state some minimum needs that have to be met for you if you're going to stay in this relationship.

Some really awesome people have posted so far; different people have a different way of saying that they're pulling for you on this. I hope things get better for you soon.

Kevin T.

GalaGirl 04-24-2013 12:11 AM


For a couple to accept that and to negotiate other partners in a honest way does seem like a good thing. But from my perspective, my position in this thing has many negatives and very few benefits.

I'm sorry your situation is negative for you and are treated without a voice in the things that concern you. You sound like you DO want a voice in the relationship. So...why accept these terms? If terms don't meet your needs? :(

Ultimately you are responsible for your health and well being. What's your plan to get out of this situation now that you have become aware that polyshipping could be executed in a more honest, open fashion? You don't sound happy in this situation and some of your needs are going unmet. :(

Could choose to do something about it.


BoringGuy 04-24-2013 02:39 AM

"needs going unmet" = allowing self to be treated like a prostitute except prostitutes get paid in cash instead of a slick story.

leelee22 04-24-2013 02:42 AM

Hi everybody,

Thank you so much for your posts! I was really touched that you took the time to write back, and no, I'm not offended.

Jim -- yes, I'm definitely NOT "significant" in this person's life (or at least he pretends that I'm not... and tells me I'm not... but always seems so eager to see me). He fancies himself "unconventional", and his response to me asking for a connection beyond sex seems to be to suggest that it's disappointing that I would be so conventional as to need that. You know, that sigh that says "typical needy WOMAN". And BoringGuy (though you seem nothing but!), he readily admits that he is a douche. And no, he doesn't take my breath away, and the sex is NOT unusually special. He does have some good points. I like that he is bi, for instance. And smart.

(BoringGuy -- your suspicions about your mom's lover inventing the reasons for staying in his marriage hit home. I recently found out that years before my divorce, long before my marriage was in trouble, my ex was telling his mistresses exactly that: that he and I were "living separate lives, sleeping in separate rooms" though it was completely untrue. We were happy. He just wanted outside sex! )

Perhaps what rang most true about what you wrote, BoringGuy, is that this man and his partner have no experience with ethical nonmonogamy. They are just learning. And she is not comfortable with it. And his way of trying to increase her comfort is to cram me into this very limited little sex-toy package. She tests him by saying to him "you can't meet her for a beer after work, because that seems too much like a relationship. Sex only." And he passes the love test by dutifully enforcing her rules. But I also think it makes the whole thing too easy for him... if he doesn't want to make an effort toward me, he can just say "my partner says we can't go for a beer", and that's that, it's out of his hands.

And Janelle -- it's nice that you can also relate to the idea of being a "free service". This man's primary partner would ideally not have sex with him, ever. It reduces the friction in her relationship if he has me to meet that one need, and he stops hounding her for it. Which begs the question, what DOES she want him for? I suspect she wants him there for economic reasons. Which is nasty; but ultimately, it's none of my business.

Anyway, moan, groan, grumble, what an awful way to introduce myself. You are all obviously right, and this is not what polyamory is supposed to be like, and I need to get rid of this man. It's not like he would be hard to replace. My main issue is that at my age, all the men I meet have kids and want to create a blended family... which I don't want to do. I promised my kids, when I got divorced, that I would not do that. They are teenagers. They won't be with me too many more years. I don't want to cohabit with anyone. So this arrangement appealed to me because there was no possibility of this man pressuring me to move in, like my other boyfriends have always ended up doing.

But this guy aside, the idea of polyamory does still appeal to me. I tend to be at least serially monogamous... but I find that so many men can't do monogamy... and I would prefer to find one who has the balls to negotiate for non-monogamy (this is one of the few things i admire about my current guy -- that he actually negotiated this with his wife, instead of cheating). So I am still interested in this lifestyle. But I know I need to find someone who is willing to have a REAL relationship with me, regardless of whether or not he has other lovers. So I am glad I found you lot to help me sort it out. thank you for listening.


opalescent 04-24-2013 03:02 AM


Originally Posted by BoringGuy (Post 199305)
"needs going unmet" = allowing self to be treated like a prostitute except prostitutes get paid in cash instead of a slick story.


This is not helpful at all. It is victim blaming and that is not ok. If the OP triggers you this badly - and this is different in tone and intensity than the rest of your comments - ignore this thread. God knows the stories on this board can sap one's ability to empathize but when you reach that point, it's time to take a break.

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