As far as negotiating as a secondary, here's what I think. Every person involved in a poly relationship, whether they are primary, secondary, partnered, or solo, should have their own set of personal boundaries. Each person should know what they are willing to compromise on and what is a deal-breaker. When we meet someone else whom we see as a potential relationship, I think it is good to find out early on what their boundaries are and to see if they mesh with and are acceptable with our own. If someone doesn't really have their own personal boundaries and are just letting a partner of theirs make rules for them... huge red flag.
For myself, if something is negotiable and we are both willing to compromise, we talk about it and consider our options - can some tweaks be made that we both can live with? If I feel that certain rules a poly guy has with one or more of his partners which are non-negotiable for him but would conflict with mine and intrude on or hamper my ability to manage my own relationship with him, I walk. It's just not worth the time, effort, and drama to me to accept something that goes against my personal boundaries only to hope that someone in one of his other relationships will eventually change their stance to allow me more freedom. If he is just starting out with poly and his partner is especially scared, insecure, not totally on board, and has a laundry list of rules for him to adhere to, I won't go near that situation with a 20-foot pole.
It isn't my job or place to get him to change his boundaries with any other partners, so if how they do poly affects how I do poly in a way that is unacceptable to me, I see no reason to stay and try to make it work within their restrictions if I find them untenable, disrespectful of me and my autonomy, or just too extreme. And the reverse is also true. He should not engage with me if he's somehow got the idea that eventually he'll get me to change my boundaries in ways that are more favorable to his partner.
My choice is between accepting the parameters of staying in a relationship or not, based on whether my boundaries are respected. From this standpoint, I think, then it really doesn't matter if a partner views me as a secondary or not because I am saying what is or is not acceptable to ME, no matter what hierarchical position I'm in from his viewpoint.
PS - to give you a fuller picture of my perspective, I am a straight unpartnered woman flying solo in poly-land, and I do not subscribe to hierarchical relationships myself. I see my lovers as all equally important to me, but am open to being someone's secondary from their perspective, if my personal boundaries are respected.
Last edited by nycindie; 02-21-2012 at 11:15 PM.