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Old 02-02-2012, 06:03 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Originally Posted by MeeraReed View Post
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.
My friend's comment bothered me because I don't use primary/secondary labels for my relationships and I don't appreciate other people labelling me according to their own paradigms without asking me if their paradigms are consistent with how I view my own life.

I never claimed that primary and secondary relationships were not different. They are very much different. I have explicitly chosen to reject the implications of those differences by deliberately avoiding the labels of primary and secondary.

For example, suppose my "secondary" is having a major crisis like her mom just died, and my "primary" needs to talk about a bad day at work. The "primary/secondary" model implies that my primary's needs come before my secondary's needs, regardless of the severity or immediacy of those needs.

I prefer relationship triage. So: if you come into my hospital, I really don't give a hoot if you've sprained your ankle, Mr. President, I'm going to treat the homeless guy bleeding profusely from his 3" stab wound first.

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.
Life is dramatic. Shiiiit, my husband and I have had more than our share of drama, completely unrelated to polyamory or our relationship or anything at all within either of our controls. You just deal with it. That's what makes you grow as a person. Ejecting everything in your life that causes drama is classic avoidance and gets you stuck in life, usually miserable because guess what... everywhere you turn, there's more drama.

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.
No relationship should "be" your life. From the part of the quote, I think you already know this, at least intuitively. Sharing my finances and housing with a person does not, to me, constitute "my whole life." I still have my career, my friends, my alone-time, my hobbies, not to mention my other romances. These are all parts of "my whole life" and none of them include my husband.

When I meet people who "share everything" I make a "yuck" face.

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.
Really, the only "point" of poly relationships, and the only thing to "get" is: Can you be in love with more than one person, yes or no? Honestly, that's what it all boils down to. The rest is mechanics.

Like I said: primary/secondary is not *for me*... I certainly do not claim that they are not for anyone. Some people are extremely happy with those roles, and I'm a firm believer in "whatever works for you is fantabulous."

The fact that you put so much priority on your independence is AWESOME. And really, if you're determined not to rock your own boat for the sake of any romance (because trust me, my marriage has rocked my boat plenty), then a deliberately secondary role may be suitable for you.

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.
I'm not sure where you get that impression. We're saying that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. It is not respectful or kind to tell someone that their feelings are unimportant simply because they don't match up with the feelings of someone else.

I like to let every relationship grow in its own way. To me, using a label of "secondary" means that I'm putting limits on the way that relationship is allowed to grow. It's like keeping fish in a small tank: it will limit the size to which they can grow, even though they're biologically capable of growing much larger.

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?
I wouldn't so much call it non-poly-friendly so much as presumptuous. She (I'll call her Bev) made up her mind that I had chosen to use primary/secondary labels before I even said so. This is someone who, just last night, gave a 3 hour guest lecture about polyamory to a 2nd year psychology class, in which she emphasized that not everyone uses the primary/secondary labels, that she herself had chosen not to use them.

Some extra context that might help put Bev's contradiction into perspective: Bev has a partner who is "gender-fluid" but has a vagina and goes by a female name. Now, if I were to say to Bev, "I have my definition of woman, a person with a vagina is woman, so she's a woman" then Bev would get righteously indignant. She would swear up and down that her partner gets to decide what gender s/he is and demand to know right I have to say otherwise?

During her talk, she mentioned that she had one partner whom she considered a "life partner." She mentioned that she views marriage to be nothing more than a financial contract. Therefor, the fact that I've made a financial contract with someone is somehow the distinction between hierarchical poly and non-hierarchical poly, according to her assumptions about me.

Bev is also one of those "there is no one way to do poly. If it works for you, then you're doing it right" type of poly people. So the part that bothers me, I think, is that she just made an assumption about my life without asking me whether that was the case. She then used her assumption to predict my future behaviours.
As I am sure any cat owner will be able to tell you,
someone else putting you in a box is entirely different
from getting into a box yourself.

Last edited by SchrodingersCat; 02-02-2012 at 06:17 AM.
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