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Old 09-20-2012, 02:42 AM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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Location: East Coast, U.S.
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Default Finding a primary when you already have a non-primary

I know this topic comes up occasionally, but I haven't seen a specific thread for it.

How difficult is it to look for (and find) a primary partner when you already involved with someone who is NOT going to be your primary partner?

Is it hard to establish a "primary bond" when you are already involved with someone else, from before the time you meet this potential primary?

For those of you who have a secondary who is seeking a primary of his/her own: does their search for a primary feel different from the way you found a secondary?

Has your secondary found a primary during the time you have been with him/her? Was the transition difficult?

I know many poly folks don't use the "hierarchy" labels. I think my question might still apply to some situations where those labels aren't used. By "primary," I mean a partner for permanent living together, maybe legal marriage and kids, a life partner, etc. By "secondary," I mean someone with whom you are not planning to cohabit or have kids, someone who is not going to transition to a co-primary arrangement.

My personal reasons for raising this topic: my lover-friend (a non-monogamous straight male, age 26) would very much like to find a life partner. He wants to share finances with someone, buy a house, travel together, have a big wedding, have kids someday, etc. He has also been coming to terms with the fact that he's oriented toward non-monogamy and probably would not be able to be himself or be happy in a monogamous relationship. His ideal primary partner would also be non-monogamous (and also kinky & Jewish, but that's another story).

Meanwhile, he and I have been involved with each other for the last 8 months, and have been slowly discovering that we get along amazingly well and like each other quite a bit, and that we want to keep seeing each other indefinitely. But we also don't want to be primary partners with each other, for a variety of reasons. (I, personally, don't want a primary partner at all; I identify as single-by-choice and am my own primary partner; I am hoping to have multiple secondary-type relationships eventually. And I don't want kids).

Anyway, both he and I are coming from a place of feeling instinctively comfortable with ethical non-monogamy and with casual relationships/ sexual friendships /freedom to explore sex without restrictions. I lean more towards identifying with the label poly; he doesn't, but has many poly friends.

He claims these poly friends have told him he will have a hard time finding a primary partner. "Everyone either already has a primary partner, or doesn't want one," he was told. Is there any truth to that??

Also, I feel like our situation is sort of backwards. I would feel very comfortable having the label of secondary if he had a primary partner; but he hasn't met his primary yet! I've never heard of anyone who met their primary and secondary in the reverse order

Over the time he and I have been involved together, he has dated two potential partners/girlfriends, each for about a month or two. Neither worked out. The first one is a complicated story (she didn't seem to like him much or to know what she wanted). The second one really liked him but only wanted to be monogamous (despite knowing, for the months that they talked before dating, that he did not want a monogamous relationship).

When he was deciding whether to break up with the second girl, I offered to take time apart from him so he could try seeing her monogamously. (She could not handle the fact that he saw me once a week and refused to meet me). I did not want to be the reason that would prevent him from finding what would make him truly happy. However, he didn't want me to stop seeing him, and also assured me that he wants/needs a girlfriend/life partner who is comfortable with non-monogamy, regardless of whether I am in his life or not.

Oops, this is getting really long. I don't really have questions about my own personal arrangement. From my point of view, it seems to be going rather well. But my lover-friend has been disheartened about his dating prospects.

Is there anything I could do to make any potential partners of his feel more comfortable about my relationship with him? (I would be an absolutely ideal secondary! I am the least demanding person in the world. I love spending time alone--I am not kidding. And, when I'm done with grad school in a few months, I'll be dating other people as well).

But, a lot of successful poly relationships are founded on opening up a relationship after years of being monogamous together. That seems especially important for primary relationships involving shared finances, household, kids, etc. I know my lover-friend wonders if that would be a better approach to finding his life partner.

Has anyone here met and fallen in love with their primary while he/she had another lover?
Single, straight, female, solo, non-monogamous.
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:27 AM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Pennsyl-tucky
Posts: 1,863

Although my "secondary" cohabitates with us he is in a somewhat similar position as your BF in that I already have a "primary" ( my husband). He is not necessarily looking for a wife/children but I don't think would be averse to sharing a (separate) home/life/future/finances with someone else.

He says that any future woman would have to be okay with his relationship with me - I do point out that this might severely limit his field. I recognize (although I am not sure that he does) that our relationship would, in fact, change if he had a "primary" type relationship with another girl. Best case that I see, we build him a separate household on our property, so that they can have their own space together. If she were interested in either myself or my husband as playmates or secondary partners that would be awesome (although by no means required).

Another option for him would be to hang around for a "co-primary" type relationship with me and then have "secondary" or other "co-primary" relationships of his own. Depending on how that pans out (in terms of how we all get along) we may want to go with a separate structure vs. an additional suite on our existing home.

(The same would be true of MrS - however, I see this as less likely, as in 20 years together, he has only ever seemed to be interested in being an "on-call" accessory to my relations with other women if they requested it, although perfectly happy to pursue a platonic friendship or cordial acquaintanceship if that is what they preferred...but things could change.)

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 (6+ yrs) and MrS's BFF
SLeW: platonic hetero girlfriend and BFF
MrClean: hetero mono male, almost lover-friend to me, FWBs to SLeW
+ "others" = FBs, FWBs, lover-friends, platonic G/BFs, boytoys, etc.

My poly blogs here:
The Journey of JaneQSmythe
The Notebook of JaneQSmythe
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Old 09-20-2012, 05:52 PM
AnnabelMore's Avatar
AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,285

I had been dating Gia in a secondary-type relationship for close to two years when I decided to re-start a relationship with my ex, Davis, with the intention of aiming for a primary-type relationship. It isn't quite working out that way, but that has to do with issues been he and I, not with my relationship with Gia.

The idea that everyone who wants a primary already has one is preposterous. Even if it were somehow true, what about the many people going through break-ups or divorces at any given time, who don't choose to give up on the idea of a life partner afterwards?

And hey, if he wants a poly-friendly partner, this way he will *know* they're ok with it, versus just thinking they're ok with it without knowing how they'd react to the reality.

Your bf's position may not be the norm, but I don't see any reason at all that it can't work out.
Me, 30ish bi female, been doing solo poly for roughly 5 years. Gia, Clay, and Pike, my partners. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler.
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:15 PM
Cadyern Cadyern is offline
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 5

I have been wondering this myself. I sort of stumbled into a relationship with friend of mine. While she does not classify what we have as secondary she is already married and life decisions (finances, children) will be made with that partner. So that does put me in a bit of a secondary position even if she does not view her relationships as hierarchical. So if I want to pursue some of the more traditional ideas of marriage and children another partner would be necessary. I've been struggling with this as this is my first experience with polyamory.
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:19 PM
livingston livingston is offline
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: washington state/puget sound
Posts: 8


be sure what is available to you from your relationship before assuming you have to find the "more traditional ideas of marriage and children" with another person. there may be room for you to be a co-primary or to create a larger family.
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