So... am I right in understanding that basically, your boyfriend is scared of getting hurt? That it's making him reluctant to delve deeper into your relationship with him?
I'll check back and see if you post any extra bits to see if I can possibly help you more, rather than bark up the wrong tree.
Originally Posted by Marcus
primary is the relationship that matters and secondary is the relationship that doesn't. Sugar coat it all you want, but that is the truth of the matter as far as I can tell (if it isn't, you guys might really consider using language that is not explicitly hierarchical).
...I wouldn't enjoy being classified as secondary (or primary, for that matter) and would see myself to the door if I found that's how I was being thought of.
To find out how it feels to be a secondary partner you need only read through these boards. The general consensus, as far as I can tell, is that it feels about the way that it sounds... like being secondary.
Just to latch onto this side note, if I may...
I think it very much depends on how you look at hierarchical poly. At the end of the day, you're right - a secondary is less important for some people. Not as a person, but as a priority in that person's life.
Whilst the heart might be without restriction... there are only so many hours in a day, only so many physical limitations that can be crossed. If every person we dated was of 'equal' priority, could we end up with 20 partners? How would we share time and love equally? If we stopped at two or three extra partners, are we missing out on the sexual freedom that comes with poly; because we essentially stay with those same people forever?
Furthermore, some people on here, myself included, talk about poly more in terms of polysexuality than polyamory. I believe I am capable of loving more than one, but prefer, currently, to keep it on a friendship/sex level only, outside of my main relationship.
I don't actually think there's anything wrong with hierarchical poly at all - if everyone's happy with it.
I've used the term 'secondary' on here, but in our relationship, we usually just call each other 'girlfriend' and other people 'play partners'. We say play partners because that's what it is.... friends with benefits or BDSM play partners, with no desire for love or to take things any further at present.
But from my point of view... I actually like the term 'secondary' in a certain sense.
I wouldn't mind being referred to as a secondary. If I'm dating a woman, whether she loves me or not, and she's got a home and a life with someone else, especially if children are involved, I wouldn't mind not being her first priority. I can always get out if my thoughts change. I can always seek a second partner who becomes a 'primary' for me, if I need to be someone's priority.
There are of course triads and poly people that act on a more levelled basis. My girlfriend, for example, also has a husband. She sees me as 'equal' to him in terms of priority.
For us, polyamory is something we believe in, but that can be difficult in practice. If all new partners are equal in every sense, how many of us are going to end up living together? How many influences are we having on our daughter? Etc. For us, polysexuality works, whilst still believing in the potential of our hearts being open.... so a hierarchical approach keeps that clearer for everyone, to avoid hurt.
I can see why the terminology can seem offensive, but I can also see why it can be useful.