is there a better word?
I've been thinking a lot about primary and secondary as terms to describe relationships.
It seems like a lot of people are willing to accept the idea that a newer lover, or a less involved lover, may be equal in love and respect but not necessarily equal in terms of making life decisions together or getting priority for time, commitment, etc. Things may change over time, a lover who was once secondary may become co-primary. But until that happens, or if it never happens, I find it useful to have a way to talk about the relationship's structure.
However, even those people who acknowledge the idea of the sort of relationship described above often seem to HATE the word "secondary" itself. Or, if not hate it, they at least may be kind of uncomfortable with it or see it as meaning a whole host of bad things. Like, people may assume that folks who have a commited life partner (a primary) and call another relationship secondary are going to have a host of rules, or are going to think of the newer person as disposable, or are going to mistreat their secondary partner.
I don't want to bring up a big discussion of "why don't we get rid of all these labels." We need words in order to think and talk about things. As long as the words are descriptive and not prescriptive, I think we're all good.
Maybe the problem is the word itself. Maybe secondary sounds too negative... maybe people can't help it, they see or hear it and they think second place, second in love, always thought of last, etcetc.
Can we as a community find a word that conveys the concept without all the negative baggage? Or is it just inevitable that the way people so often mishandle their relationships with newer partners will taint any word associated with the concept? Has anyone tried to come up with a new system of talking about these things before? Should it just be unique to every set of relationships (that would make it really hard to easily discuss things as a community...)?
Thanks for your thoughts!