This reminds me of a lesson that my boys recently reinforced to me:
Fair =/= Equal.
They each need different things from me at different times - based on our relationships and their particular "love languages" (if you haven't run into this particular meme before, I would look into it). Fair is attending to each of their needs as they come up - NOT making sure that each gets the exact same time/affection/sex as the other.
I agree with LR in the whole "level of need" concept. If MrS is in a "temporary tizzy" about something relatively unimportant (in the grand scheme of things) that he will get over with/or without me, and Dude is having an "existential crisis of epic proportions" ...then I will acknowledge MrS's angst but focus my attentions on Dude's crisis.
I don't have kids, but if I did then then would be my primary priority. My "chosen family" (Dude and MrS) comes next. Then my bio-family. Then my friends. BUT if someone further down on the list has a "need" for my attention and the others have a "want"?...needs trump wants. (This is further mitigated by the fact that my friends/family would never ask me for something that wasn't super important - I am a lucky girl in this regard.)
Every other possible thing being equal (which it never is! - this is like asking a person to chose between their children!) then, yes - 20+ year husband would trump 2+ year boyfriend. But they both love me (and each other) enough that that they would each insist that I attend to the other one first. I don't love either of them "more" - I love each of them "different" - because they are different people.
I view our situation as "working towards co-primary" - I have been with MrS for 20+ years and Dude for just over 2. This DOES come into play once in a while. Dude is well "ahead" of where MrS was at the 2 year mark. But MrS has a 20 year headstart on "getting" me while Dude and I are still learning about each other (and getting it "wrong" a certain percentage of the time).
PS. If MrS and I weren't so totally on the same page 95+% of the time, this thing with Dude would never have happened. I think that that does deserve some acknowledgement - he deserves to have his insecurities addressed when it comes up. On the other hand, Dude agreed to have a relationship with someone who already had obligations to another - he might have to have his fears related to his "temporary secondary-ship" assuaged periodically.
You don't jump from "live-in boyfriend" to "life partner ensured of life-long support" in a minute/hour/day/year...MrS didn't and Dude won't either. It may be easier the second time around (on my end) but you don't get an automatic "Pass Go - Collect $200" just because I am willing to consider you as a candidate for life-long partnership...you still have to prove your worthiness AS a life-long partner (as do I).
Me: poly bi female, in an "open-but-not-looking" V-plus with -
MrS: hetero polyflexible male, live-in husband (24+ yrs)
Dude: hetero poly male, live-in boyfriend (5+ yrs) and MrS's BFF
SLeW: platonic girlfriend and BFF
Lotus: "it's complicated"
+ "others" = FBs, FWBs, lover-friends, platonic G/BFs, boytoys, etc.
My poly blogs here:
The Journey of JaneQSmythe
The Notebook of JaneQSmythe