Originally Posted by AutumnalTone
It certainly is natural. Do you spend an equal amount of time with each and every friend you have? No? You spend much more time with some than with others? That is the natural order of things--and it's hierarchical.
Trying to assign baggage you carry to perfectly good terms that other folks are happy to use is entirely your issue, however.
Hierarchy is not natural. There is variation within both the human species (across time and space -- in the archaeological record as well as anthropological record) and within other non-human species. Some have been/are organized in a more egalitarian or horizontal fashion, others are what we would see as hierarchical and "natural" to our current US society. So, of course, since that system is ours and also hegemonic at this point in history, we see it as natural.
If you choose to live your life that way, fine. I don't really care.
But don't try to claim it is natural and don't try to say that this is all just some baggage. I think others have covered the importance of language nicely already.
This also signals one of the main issues in our society -- how do we deal with difference. Unfortunately, our practice is to categorize it and rank it, rather than seeing it as variation and diversity. We also often understand "equal" as meaning something that has to be exactly the same, rather than something that is qualitatively similar.
Thanks River and Ray for your comments. I also don't believe that just because 2 relationships are different, that they have to be ranked. I see relationships as distinct certainly, but am not going to rank my love and caring. Thus, the need for a word or words that can capture differences and not carry negative connotations.
Again, if you like these words and they work for you, use them. I'd much rather pursue ideas of how to create more egalitarian ways of relating instead of replicating systems I see as harmful.
And, on that note -- one of my sweeties likes the phrase "part-time partner" since it points to our committed relationship, but acknowledges that we can only spend limited time together. I often just say my "sweeties."