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  #11  
Old 02-01-2012, 03:43 AM
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I think it's pretty obvious, Meera, that you and SC have different views on relationship hierarchy. Probably why the friend's comment didn't make you blink while it bothered SC.

Perhaps you could have phrased your question in a way that was a little less harsh. The way that you said it gave the impression to me that you found SC's view to be just silly and and unreasonable. I don't know if that's what you meant but the way you said it, made me want to defend SC.

Also, I know assumptions are tricky but I'm not sure that you can judge better than SC about what her friend's assumptions may or may not have been. You have no context and no knowledge of the person. In Critical Race studies there's this term called a 'micro-aggression.'

From Wikipedia:

Microaggression is the idea that specific interactions between those of different races, cultures, or genders can be interpreted as non-physical aggression. The term was first coined by American psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce[1] and described as, "brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of other races."

Microaggressions can take a number of different forms,[8] for example, questioning the existence of racial-cultural issues, making stereotypic assumptions, and cultural insensitivity.[8][9] Some other types of microaggressions that have been identified[8] include Colorblindness (e.g., "I don't think of you as Black. You are just a normal person"), Denial of personal bias (e.g., "I'm not homophobic; I even have gay friends."), and Minimization of racial-cultural issues (e.g., "Just because you feel alone in this group doesn't mean that there's a racial issue involved."). "Colorblindness" in particular has been associated with higher levels of racism[10] and lower levels of empathy.[11]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microaggression

To me, this comment was sort of an example of that. Something unintentional that reflects a cultural, structural, or something influence or idea in place that is inherently discriminatory.

If some one sees the relationship hierarchy as discriminating (not everyone does) then this could feel that way to them.
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  #12  
Old 02-02-2012, 06:03 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeeraReed View Post
I have to say, SC, I am genuinely puzzled by your reaction.

Why would your friend's comment bother you? Having a primary really IS different.
My friend's comment bothered me because I don't use primary/secondary labels for my relationships and I don't appreciate other people labelling me according to their own paradigms without asking me if their paradigms are consistent with how I view my own life.

I never claimed that primary and secondary relationships were not different. They are very much different. I have explicitly chosen to reject the implications of those differences by deliberately avoiding the labels of primary and secondary.

For example, suppose my "secondary" is having a major crisis like her mom just died, and my "primary" needs to talk about a bad day at work. The "primary/secondary" model implies that my primary's needs come before my secondary's needs, regardless of the severity or immediacy of those needs.

I prefer relationship triage. So: if you come into my hospital, I really don't give a hoot if you've sprained your ankle, Mr. President, I'm going to treat the homeless guy bleeding profusely from his 3" stab wound first.

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If my relationship caused drama or problems with the primary couple, I would WANT to remove myself from the situation. I would expect my partner to end things with me if I caused problems with his wife.
Life is dramatic. Shiiiit, my husband and I have had more than our share of drama, completely unrelated to polyamory or our relationship or anything at all within either of our controls. You just deal with it. That's what makes you grow as a person. Ejecting everything in your life that causes drama is classic avoidance and gets you stuck in life, usually miserable because guess what... everywhere you turn, there's more drama.

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Secondary relationships should enrich the lives of those in them, but shouldn't BE your life the same way a primary partner IS your life. [...] I'm speaking as someone who wants (or might want) to be a secondary or even a tertiary. I regard myself (or maybe my writing) as my own primary relationship and I have no interest in sharing my life with a primary boyfriend.
No relationship should "be" your life. From the part of the quote, I think you already know this, at least intuitively. Sharing my finances and housing with a person does not, to me, constitute "my whole life." I still have my career, my friends, my alone-time, my hobbies, not to mention my other romances. These are all parts of "my whole life" and none of them include my husband.

When I meet people who "share everything" I make a "yuck" face.

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But, so far I've been reluctant to seek out poly relationships because I think I might be missing the point and might not really "get" poly the way poly people get it. I think I would make an ideal secondary, but maybe my guy wouldn't appreciate feeling like he's only secondary to my life as well.
Really, the only "point" of poly relationships, and the only thing to "get" is: Can you be in love with more than one person, yes or no? Honestly, that's what it all boils down to. The rest is mechanics.

Like I said: primary/secondary is not *for me*... I certainly do not claim that they are not for anyone. Some people are extremely happy with those roles, and I'm a firm believer in "whatever works for you is fantabulous."

The fact that you put so much priority on your independence is AWESOME. And really, if you're determined not to rock your own boat for the sake of any romance (because trust me, my marriage has rocked my boat plenty), then a deliberately secondary role may be suitable for you.

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Here's what seems odd to me about poly relationships (or with the way many poly people talk about relationships): it seems like the relationships are not allowed to pass through a non-serious phase before becoming serious.

In monogamous dating, it's (usually) okay for a relationship to take a long time to get serious, right? But in poly, if you don't immediately include your secondary on family vacations, you're disrespected him/her.
I'm not sure where you get that impression. We're saying that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. It is not respectful or kind to tell someone that their feelings are unimportant simply because they don't match up with the feelings of someone else.

I like to let every relationship grow in its own way. To me, using a label of "secondary" means that I'm putting limits on the way that relationship is allowed to grow. It's like keeping fish in a small tank: it will limit the size to which they can grow, even though they're biologically capable of growing much larger.

Quote:
And going back to what I quoted above: I have observed this kind of thing a number of times in the various poly communities/forums I'm exploring. A poly person takes offense at some sort of comment which they perceive as non-poly-friendly, and then they scoff at how the person who made the comment thinks they are so open-minded.

I honestly don't get what bothered you about your friend's comment, SC? Is there more context you can explain?
I wouldn't so much call it non-poly-friendly so much as presumptuous. She (I'll call her Bev) made up her mind that I had chosen to use primary/secondary labels before I even said so. This is someone who, just last night, gave a 3 hour guest lecture about polyamory to a 2nd year psychology class, in which she emphasized that not everyone uses the primary/secondary labels, that she herself had chosen not to use them.

Some extra context that might help put Bev's contradiction into perspective: Bev has a partner who is "gender-fluid" but has a vagina and goes by a female name. Now, if I were to say to Bev, "I have my definition of woman, a person with a vagina is woman, so she's a woman" then Bev would get righteously indignant. She would swear up and down that her partner gets to decide what gender s/he is and demand to know right I have to say otherwise?

During her talk, she mentioned that she had one partner whom she considered a "life partner." She mentioned that she views marriage to be nothing more than a financial contract. Therefor, the fact that I've made a financial contract with someone is somehow the distinction between hierarchical poly and non-hierarchical poly, according to her assumptions about me.

Bev is also one of those "there is no one way to do poly. If it works for you, then you're doing it right" type of poly people. So the part that bothers me, I think, is that she just made an assumption about my life without asking me whether that was the case. She then used her assumption to predict my future behaviours.
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Last edited by SchrodingersCat; 02-02-2012 at 06:17 AM.
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  #13  
Old 02-02-2012, 06:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ray View Post
I think it's pretty obvious, Meera, that you and SC have different views on relationship hierarchy. Probably why the friend's comment didn't make you blink while it bothered SC.

Perhaps you could have phrased your question in a way that was a little less harsh. The way that you said it gave the impression to me that you found SC's view to be just silly and and unreasonable. I don't know if that's what you meant but the way you said it, made me want to defend SC.
I'm a tough cookie. The impression I got was more of confusion than any implication that I was being silly or unreasonable.
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  #14  
Old 02-02-2012, 06:41 AM
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Well, we all take away different impressions and I still think that the way MR phrased her question was a bit exclusionary. I was merely sharing my reaction.
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  #15  
Old 02-06-2012, 06:52 PM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
I'm a tough cookie. The impression I got was more of confusion than any implication that I was being silly or unreasonable.
Yes, that's the way I meant it.

Thanks for clarifying. The added context about your friend helped.

I do feel like there is a tendency to accuse people of making assumptions when they are just confused. (Without the added context, I was wondering if your friend was simply misunderstanding your situation).

Everyone does poly a little differently, and the same label can mean totally different things to different people. So assumptions will obviously happen-it's unavoidable.

And most of the time there's no reason to take offense at assumptions--it only creates situations where people feel they have to walk on eggshells to avoid making innocent assumptions.

Part of my issue is that I don't know for sure what my own views are since I am trying to figure that out...
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  #16  
Old 02-06-2012, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeeraReed View Post
I do feel like there is a tendency to accuse people of making assumptions when they are just confused.
I have the opposite problem - people tend to think I'm confused when I am actually making assumptions!
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  #17  
Old 02-13-2012, 02:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeeraReed View Post
I do feel like there is a tendency to accuse people of making assumptions when they are just confused. (Without the added context, I was wondering if your friend was simply misunderstanding your situation).
It's not inaccurate to say she's misunderstanding my situation, in that she believes my situation is "married = primary" and never bothered to consider alternatives. She seems to be one of those people with a very negative attitude towards marriage in general, sees it as nothing but a financial contract. She almost comes across like "not being married" makes her "above all that."
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Gralson: my husband (works out of town).
Auto: my girlfriend (lives with her husband Zoffee).

The most dangerous phrase in the English language is "we've always done it this way."

Last edited by SchrodingersCat; 02-13-2012 at 03:00 AM.
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  #18  
Old 02-16-2012, 03:46 AM
nllswing nllswing is offline
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The card lack the obvious "all of the above" box.
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  #19  
Old 02-16-2012, 03:50 AM
CrystalLiving CrystalLiving is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
Thank you for this post.
I was told I was a "primary" but between you, me and this website-- I had no idea what that meant in the grand scheme of things.

This post has helped me today.

CL
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  #20  
Old 02-17-2012, 10:16 PM
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It really helps me to see how different people do things (differently!), since it helps me get perspective on what the heck I'm doing. (I sometimes feel like I have a good grasp on all of it, but sometimes feel like I'm making it up as I go.)

In any case, the card in the OP is amusing, and definitely helps me feel more secure in my situation. I think that in my secondary relationships, I'm not really at risk of getting dumped unless something breaks down fundamentally in the relationship itself. Outside factors could change the sexual nature of my relationships, I suppose, but not the personal/emotional connection and friendship.
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