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Old 01-29-2013, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by ThatGirlInGray View Post
Also, regarding her take on hierarchy, there have been extensive discussions on this board about using primary/secondary as "descriptive" versus "prescriptive". I feel her "request" of the poly community to stop using primary and secondary unless you honestly mean the "prescriptive" use of the terms is unreasonable and unrealistic.
This article did get me thinking about that, actually. As a result of those discussions, I've been finding myself reluctantly using the primary/secondary labels as descriptive, and I've been feeling eeky about it every time. Prescriptive or not, I can't separate the words from the notion of "better/lesser than."

Specifically, it's when people describe a partner as "my primary" or "my secondary" that sounds bad. Even if you're using the labels descriptively, it still designates it as their role. People don't tend to use these terms as an aside ("This is my partner John. Our relationship is of a more primary nature. This is my partner Jane. Our relationship is of a more secondary nature.") but rather the focus ("This is my primary, John. This is my secondary, Jane.") Even when used descriptively, the fact that they're primary or secondary tends to take precedence over who they are as a person.

In other words, there's a huge difference between describing the relationship as being of a primary or secondary nature, and actually referring to that person as My Primary or My Secondary.

This article was just what I needed to give myself permission to stop using these labels, even descriptively. She makes a valid point that "husband" and "girlfriend" accurately describe those two people and the nature of those relationships without resorting hierarchical terms.

That being said, "husband" and "girlfriend" are probably more prescriptive and hierarchical than are descriptive primary/secondary labels. My husband and I have obviously spent a lot of time and effort on building our relationship together. I am, without a doubt, more committed to maintaining that relationship. That's not to say I value, as a person, my girlfriend less than my husband. But push come to shove, there are sacrifices that I would make for him that I wouldn't make for her, e.g. moving across the country for a job offer.
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