Thanks for sharing, BP. Good food for thought.
In my secondary relationship with my gf we've managed to get by with almost no explicit rules, just talking and negotiating as we go along. I have a very hard time with the list above, it makes me upset, and I'm trying to figure out why when the fact is that in many/most cases my relationship actually de facto follows these rules.
For instance, Gia doesn't come over to my place for sleepovers for lots of reasons, primarily because it's so important to her to be with her husband and baby at night. We may see each other more than three times a month socially but not for dates by any means because she simply doesn't have the energy/time, and it would be a stretch for me too for that matter. Eric may not have explicit veto power but if he asked Gia to end it with me I can only imagine she would, though she'd be torn up and angry.
So, why get upset over rules that mirror my own life?? I think because the rules would make me, as the person outside the sacred primary couple, seem like a threat, something that must be protected against at all costs.
As it is now, we may not do sleepovers at my place but if I really really wanted that and Bee was a bit older, Gia would talk to Eric about it and indulge me every now and then... she's told me this, but it's not something I've ever felt the need to press for. It somehow means so much to me to know that while she's never slept at my place it's because it hasn't made sense when stacking up the needs of all involved and that doesn't mean she wouldn't or couldn't. There is nothing about a very occasional night at my place that would hurt her marriage, y'know? And maybe, at some point, it's something that will feel like a need to me, and I'll know I can ask without trying to get her to be a rule-breaker.
Likewise with the number of dates and the veto power. Only scheduling a certain number of dates because that's what makes sense for us all feels good and right and reasonable, whereas imagining that we're only doing a certain number of dates because more time with me would be verboten makes me feel like I'm somehow bad or dangerous. And even though I myself would certainly break it off with Gia if I knew Eric couldn't deal, the thought of him saying "Oh yeah, our rule is that when I say it's done it's done" and her nodding in agreement just makes me sick... I think it would somehow make me feel like this love that I have with Gia, which is so special to me, ultimately means nothing at all. I dunno, is that crazy?
It's a funny thing, how much the way something is structured or defined can make all the difference. For instance, it's important to me that our relationship is "descriptive" hierarchy ( as in, we're not building a life together and probably never will, so this definition fits us) versus "prescriptive" hierarchy (as in, we are never allowed to move towards building a life together, because this definition limits us). Semantics, and yet it makes this work for me. Why do I need to leave the possibility of co-primacy out there even as I acknowledge that it is very unlikely, even as I'm not interested in pushing for it? Is it a need for self-delusion? Sometimes I think it might be, but most of the time I come to the conclusion that being told in advance "you may grow this far and no farther" just isn't something I can live with.
Also, I'm curious what the "primary relationship style communication" is, the thing that's not supposed to need to happen early or ever in secondary relationships? My gf and I have had some pretty damn heavy talks scattered throughout the last two years and it's kept us going. We don't do it all the time by any means... is that the difference, or is it just never supposed to get heavy at all? If the latter, well... if a partner EVER said to me something that sounded like "We don't need to have this serious talk because our relationship isn't serious" I think I would walk away immediately and not look back.
The major players. Me, 30ish bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 4+ years. Clay, boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eddie, roommate & fwb.
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.