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Old 12-06-2012, 12:17 PM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 832

Originally Posted by AggieSez View Post
Do you believe couple privilege exists? How would you define it? (Or how would you adjust my proposed definition?)
Yes. I'd define it as putting the preservation of the couple first and foremost.

How have you seen couple privilege manifest in poly/open relationships?
In my situation, as a single woman seeing a married poly man, I see it mainly in the fact that our dates tend to revolve around his wife's plans. I see a lot of ways in which he has put my feelings and what matters to me on an equal or even higher level, which I suspect, reading here, is a little atypical.

However, there's that one major 'couple privilege' of the assumption that the couple will remain together, which tells the secondary from the start that this relationship can only go so far. Yes, a few do eventually move in and become co-primaries, but there are so many reasons why that wouldn't work for most people, that those numbers are very, very small and don't change the likely outcome of this secondary relationship can only go so far.

I have been told repeatedly that "I can't offer you more." (No, I wasn't asking, he says it in apology and in reference to other things.) So right from the start there is the mixed message of, "I really, really like you, I can't wait to see you again, I'd do anything for you...except that...and I can't see you tonight." In short, it can feel like, you're not really all that.

Is couple privilege harmful, neutral or beneficial in poly/open relationships, or in the poly/open community? Why or why not?
It's beneficial to the couple for obvious reasons. It's what allows them to believe they have enough security in the marriage to venture out.

For the secondary, it depends on many things: the situation and desires of the particular (secondary) person, and just how much couple privilege we're talking about (only the one rule that they won't break up, or an extensive list of rules and regulations?)

If the secondary has no desire to have this person full time, it's beneficial to know she's 'safe' from this guy suddenly wanting to move in with her.

In most cases, I'd say it's neutral at best, and usually harmful, to the secondary person. I think the reasons are obvious. You've got a third person dictating the terms of your so-called relationship.

How has couple privilege affected your personal experience of poly/open relationships? Specific examples or personal stories are welcome.
  • Being told we can't get together because he's going out with her.
  • Knowing, always, at the back of my mind, that she does ultimately have veto power. In their case, it's more veto over being open at all than over a particular person. But that doesn't change the outcome for me, should she suddenly decide she doesn't want an open marriage any more.
  • Knowing from the start that I must keep my feelings in check because this relationship (mine and his) has an end point because he's married and intends to stay that way. I have no problem with this and in fact don't want to be the cause of breaking up a marriage, but I also have no intention of falling desperately in love with someone who will ultimately choose to be with me only on his terms.
  • Keeping my feelings in check means our relationship will never be all it could be.

How would you like to see couple privilege addressed in the poly/open community at large?
I don't feel I'm deep enough into the poly/open community to really know how it's viewed over all, or what needs addressing. But perhaps among other things what is needed is the honesty you mention. Honesty requires, in part, admitting that the egalitarian ideal works better as a theory than as a reality.

People need to believe that they can rely on their spouse. I won't even say know because I've seen too many examples, even here, of primary couples breaking up and one person re-marrying their secondary. But in relationships, any relationship, we have a need to believe we can count on someone else to continue being there and playing their role in our lives. We are not islands. We weren't made to be islands.

But it is this very promise to continue being there for one person that limits and often ultimately harms the second person who becomes very emotionally involved.

This is one of the fatal, inherent flaws I see in polyamory.

If you are part of a primary couple[/B] that chooses to handle relationships with additional intimate partners in hierarchical ways that may seem to reinforce couple privilege, what is your rationale or intent for those choices?
I'm not part of a primary couple, but my guess is that the ultimate reason is security: feeling they can each trust that the other will ultimately come back home to them.

If you are a non-primary partner or solo poly/open person, how have you adapted to couple privilege in terms of how you handle relationships and what you’re willing to accommodate?
I am less emotionally invested in the relationship than my BF is, for my own emotional protection. I enjoy his company very much, but I remind myself not to 'take it too seriously,' not to let myself become emotionally dependent on him, not to start expecting anything from him.

The longer into it I go, however, I find I'm less willing to accept, "Oh, sorry, Baby, I'm married" as an excuse for anything that would smack of telling me her wants and needs would always come ahead of mine.

I have reminded myself often enough that I can walk away from this anytime I don't feel I'm being treated with respect and concern, and I'm quite willing to.
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