Originally Posted by AnnabelMore
Poly can work in many ways. One common way that polyamorous relationships develop is for one or both members of a "preexisting" couple to get involved with a new person (by preexisting, I mean that their relationship predates the relationship(s) with the newer partner). We can call these 2+1 relationships. In another thread, I attempted to outline a few major types of these relationships. What do you think of these categories... do they make sense, and reflect what you've seen? Are there any you'd add, change, or subdivide further?
- The unicorn hunters.
- The serendipitous triad.
- The hierarchical vee.
- The egalitarian vee
I am new here, but this thread caught my interest and I would like to offer my opinion on the classification of poly relationships. My apologies if I repeat things that might have been said on this topic in the past.
I certainly agree with the four-way classification so beautifully elaborated by Annabel More. There may be other models, but I judge them to be quite rare.
In my case, I don’t see how I could possibly enter into any poly relationship that is not in the hierarchical vee mode. This is not because I am, deep down, a committed monogamist, or because of some dreadful social conditioning by the mono-obsessed world. It is simply for the pragmatic reason that a 30-year old relationship, built around the raising of two children to adulthood and any number of career/residence changes, is bound to take precedence over any other relationship, no matter how affectionate and companionate it might be.
How could any outsider participate in the loving parent-child relationship that we enjoy? How could I expect my children to treat any person I may introduce into my life with anything but polite reserve? After all, when my father remarried after my mother died, I never considered his second wife as anything even close to being my mother. Good for my father (she was very loving to him), but to me she remained a stranger.
Is this unfair to secondaries? Not if they think through what their position is in the poly scheme of things. After all, I can imagine myself to be a “wing”: the poly partner of a woman married (or otherwise solidly bonded) to another man. I would expect her husband/partner to be politely accepting of me, but not anything more. I would not wish to be his buddy. Neither would I expect participation in her family life in any way. Would I be “less empowered” in such a situation? Yes, and I would expect it to be like that. Any further expectations in that area would be unrealistic.
What if my wife entered a relationship with another man? Would I wish to be his buddy? Not unless he was the kind I would normally want to be buddy with. My time is precious - why should I spend it with someone I don't have much in common with (aside from the affections of my wife)?
This is not to deny the possibility of a hierarchical relationship evolving into something else, like an egalitarian vee. But this would require an amazing level of compatibility between the two “wings”, and how likely is that?
As for the unicorn situation, it would be extremely unfair to the new partner, in my opinion. My wife likes to joke when the topic of a possible girlfriend (or co-wife) comes up: “Does she do windows?” (Because neither of us likes doing certain domestic chores). But this points out the obvious danger: that the unicorn person is there to do things that neither of the couple likes to (or can) do. Without any long-term security, of course.
No, it’s best to keep relationships separate, and the newcomer has to assume that she (or he) just cannot participate in the family life of the couple.
All this comes out of simply thinking about polyamory, as well as talking about it with my wife. What would happen if either of us actually entered into a poly relationship, I simply do not know. Experience is the mother of invention, they say.