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Old 04-24-2012, 11:59 PM
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redpepper redpepper is offline
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Default Primary/secondary relationships cult mentality

I thought it would be helpful to consider the connection between cult like behaviours and poly primary/secondary ones. I have done a bit of research on cults, but am no expert. On poly? Well, I know some stuff about that, but again, not everything. So bare with me on this train of thought. I by no means mean to insult or point people out. I am going on observation in a general way and not thinking of anyone one person in particular. I find the comparison interesting and the perspective helpful in terms of my own life and how I want to be treated and how I want to treat others.

In cults people are coerced and manipulated into not leaving for various reasons and in various ways. Members are often not treated as equals. There is usually a peaking order of some kind. If someone steps out of line they are moved down that line or ostracized.

In consensual relationships there is suppose to be the option to come and go as one pleases. Sometimes there isn't in poly and mono relationships and manipulation happens in different ways. This to me is cult like behaviour.

I see *some* Primary/Secondary relationships people undertake as coming from a "cult" mentality. I see it in the D/s community most often. As an example: Master/Mistress has her favourites (usually a husband or a wife) and then has "toys" to play with that are yayed or nayed at their discretion. Everyone obeys Master or Mistress and they are the leaders of all. Much like a cult leader is. This is enjoyable and safe for some people. Provided they are not forced to stay in the situation.

In Poly I have seen and heard of similar behaviour when people look for a woman (or man) to "join" them as in a "unicorn hunting" sceanrio. That person is to be a secondary and take on the role subscribed to them. They are not to make a move without being told or without it being passed by the couple. If they are not working out and behaving as the couple thinks they should then they manipulated to achieve what the couple expects. Or they are dumped.

I have seen this cult mentality displayed in "vee" situations and in "triads" also. The secondary is sometimes meant to do as they are told and/or conduct a certain function or fulfill a certain expectation that might not suit them or their needs. If they don't or are an inconvenience because they have emotions and needs then they are sometimes vetoed by the primary partner of their partner.

In functioning some vees, triads, constellations, tribes... etc. where there is someone that wields the power over all the others it can look like a cult. Primary/secondary roles go beyond the idea that they are a structure created to protect finances, look after the raising of children etc. and take on a leader with his/her flock kind of mentality.

What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:12 AM
wildflowers wildflowers is offline
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To me this seems like stretching too much to find the analogy. What I see is that cults can have an imbalance/abuse of power, and so can some relationships, but I'm not convinced that such an imbalance is particularly linked to poly. A monogamous relationship could also have an unhealthy imbalance. It seems more related to the particular relationship(s) than to the structure to me.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:42 AM
Tonberry Tonberry is offline
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I see cults as more like one person taking advantage of many. I would say a relationship that would be similar wouldn't have any primaries, and would have one person dating many and treating them poorly while manipulating them to idolize him or her.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:09 AM
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I was a religious cult victim for fifteen years. I am mono and have only some understanding of group live-in arrangements. Is there any input I can help you folks with? Best greetings to Red Pepper. You go girl!
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildflowers View Post
...cults can have an imbalance/abuse of power, and so can some relationships, but I'm not convinced that such an imbalance is particularly linked to poly. A monogamous relationship could also have an unhealthy imbalance.
I don't see RP's post as comparing cults to polyamory in the broadest sense. I thought she was specifically taking issue with hierarchical poly, with the designation of one partner as a primary, and comparing that to cult-like behavior.

I do agree that is is a bit of a stretch -- but not totally off-base.

If there is any kind of cult worship going on in poly circles, I would call it as The Cult of The Holy Dyad. You know, where the couple at the center must preserve their couplehood at all costs, but wants to "add" a woman to "complete" them, yet putting everyone else's needs as secondary or minor compared to the all-important dyad, no matter who else gets hurt in the process. Man, that gets so tiresome to read in post after post in this and other forums. I always feel sorry for the poor unsuspecting pigeons that wind up in relationships with people like that.

Unless an established couple is willing to shatter all systems they have in place, and the old beliefs about what a couple and a relationship is supposed to be, and unless they are willing to allow that their cozy little dyad will morph into something else when they have additional partners, why bother with polyamory at all? Might as well just call it monogamy and admit that those secondaries are just playthings who will be dropped like a hot potato in deference to The Holy Dyad.

Yeah, it's the wee hours and my insomnia had me up all night, so I'm at my cynical best. To bed.
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Last edited by nycindie; 04-25-2012 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:49 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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YUP, I can see it ...the mindset is the same. A religion ...with a charismatic and dictatorial leader that uses mind control techniques with the implementation of psychological and sexual abuse to further grip the cult members. Sure.... most secondary relationships are like this...and fall into that category. Really ?

I will agree I've seen several BDSM relationships that are structured this way. That use mind control technique to perpetuate the relationship for the gratification of the dominant/master partner. But consenting adults made free choices that put them there.


What is the fascination for the continued flogging of this topic. I thought the mantra was to each his own ....everyone's poly is unique as the individual participants.....EXCEPT...if they have a hierarchy or they are swingers, or they us the term rules vs boundaries or have OPP....any exemptions I missed?

So what you are suggesting is relationship Communism ? All the comrade partners are equal ...at least in theory or verb-age. However each comrade partner may have a wildly different view on what equal means and what equal feels like to them. Who's heads up the central committee? Is there a leader? Oh NO don't most communist countries have ruthless dictators in charge ...similar to the cult model ....crap .. now I don't know.

Last edited by dingedheart; 04-25-2012 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:11 PM
RedSalamander RedSalamander is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
<snip> ...I do agree that is is a bit of a stretch -- but not totally off-base.

If there is any kind of cult worship going on in poly circles, I would call it as The Cult of The Holy Dyad. You know, where the couple at the center must preserve their couplehood at all costs, but wants to "add" a woman to "complete" them, yet putting everyone else's needs as secondary or minor compared to the all-important dyad, no matter who else gets hurt in the process. Man, that gets so tiresome to read in post after post in this and other forums. I always feel sorry for the poor unsuspecting pigeons that wind up in relationships with people like that.

Unless an established couple is willing to shatter all systems they have in place, and the old beliefs about what a couple and a relationship is supposed to be, and unless they are willing to allow that their cozy little dyad will morph into something else when they have additional partners, why bother with polyamory at all? Might as well just call it monogamy and admit that those secondaries are just playthings who will be dropped like a hot potato in deference to The Holy Dyad. ... <snip>


Very well said! Bad behaviors are bad behaviors, and all people are capable of them. If a couple isn't open to redefining their couple-ness when they add a relationship to their structure, and they treat every other partner as a "less-than" plaything, that doesn't sound healthy to me at all.

Thanks for expanding on this idea.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:49 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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I don't find the comparison useful for a few reasons. For one, 'cult' can be one of those words that shuts down discussion, like comparing somone or something to Hitler and Nazi Germany. All possiblity of a rational, respectful discussion flies out the window as emotional buttons are pushed and the extremes are emphasized.

For another, abusive behavior is abusive behavior no matter the structure it occurs in. The behaviors RP describes are abusive and not to be tolerated. But put those same people in a non-hierarchal structure, and guess what - still abusive behavior. We've seen people be treated horribly in non-primary/secondary structures. If someone, or a couple, is capable of treating someone with respect, care and love, then they will do so regardless of structure. Yes, I can see that some unscruplous master or mistress would use the same techniques to manipulate and control that a cult leader would. That doesn't make the master/mistress' behavior cultish - just abusive dominants.

Many people make primary/secondary relationship work well for all involved. We don't hear from many of them because, probably, they are happy. Many people make non-hierarchical models work well for all. I fear that emotional eliding of cults are abusive, primary/secondary relationship can have abusive behaviors similar to cults, primary/secondary relationships are cults, primary/secondary relationships are abusive. I realize this is not where RP was going but it is an easy place to end up if one follows the argument.

Finally, like polyamory, cult is a word that gets used a lot in different ways. Hoever, using it broadly has the effect of hiding or de-emphasizing the dangers of actual cults and the damage they cause to people.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:05 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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I've gotta say, I agree with Opalescent. Some, or even many, hierarchically-structured relationships may have problematic elements, but I don't think the word "cult" helps us untangle what those might be. I would save that polarizing label for the occasional situation that may actually deserve it.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:13 PM
CherryBlossomGirl CherryBlossomGirl is offline
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I couldn't have said it better, Opalescent. Nice brain you have there! Where's the "like" button on this forum?
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