Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > General Poly Discussions

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #11  
Old 04-25-2012, 06:13 PM
nycindie's Avatar
nycindie nycindie is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 6,746
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
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...

Many people make primary/secondary relationship work well for all involved.
Agreed. This is true, and I was thinking about that after I logged off early this morning. There are plenty of people who are caring and respectful within a hierarchical structure. They make it work for them. I would say that there are different flavors of hierarchy, just as there are different flavors of poly. I know that, even though I don't want a hierarchy in place for my own relationships, the fact that I am solo and could connect with a married poly guy, I might be seen as a secondary in his relationships. So, in that case, all I have to gauge the success of that relationship would be how I am treated. And that won't necessarily have anything to do with any label he applies.

We could go round and round on lots of aspects of non-monogamy and cite points that make one or another abusive, from one person's perspective. But from another person's perspective, it may not be.
__________________
Hot chick in the city.

Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me.
~Bryan Ferry
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 04-25-2012, 10:09 PM
RainyGrlJenny's Avatar
RainyGrlJenny RainyGrlJenny is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Seattle
Posts: 148
Default

Sometimes, the anti-hierarchy sentiments shared by some people on this forum really frustrate me. It's as if one is incapable of treating another person with respect and dignity just because there is a primary relationship in place.

I'm sorry, but I do not tell a hurting friend that I cannot listen to them because my boyfriend wants me to go out to dinner. I do not tell my dad that I can't help him with stuff after my mom died because he is not primary relationship. And I do not tell Punk (who is a secondary relationship for me, as I am for him) that if he needs me, it depends on whether it's ok with Fly.

But, I don't form relationships with folks who would throw a tantrum about my commitments to people and things I care about. And, if for some reason they did, I would communicate that the behavior is not acceptable, and I would expect the same were the shoe on my foot.

Time, emotions, money, are all resources that can be stretched too thinly, but I don't see why this would be more relevant to romantic relationships than any other relationships in my life.

People do shitty things, and some relationships and people are controlling and abusive. Some people and couples certainly are assholes to their "secondaries." But to paint the whole structure with such a negative light is disrespectful and untrue, in my less than humble opinion

Other people have expressed my point of view better than I probably have, but it's something that really, really bothers me and I guess I needed to say that.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 04-25-2012, 10:59 PM
Shadowgbq Shadowgbq is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 18
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Agreed. This is true, and I was thinking about that after I logged off early this morning. There are plenty of people who are caring and respectful within a hierarchical structure. They make it work for them.
People can make anything "work" for them. There are reasonably happy people in prison who get along just fine with their guards and other members of the enforced hierarchy there. But that doesn't mean that they're all perfectly happy to live, or work, in a prison.

I'm not anti-primary-having as much as I just hate calling anyone a secondary. When I make love, or art, or just a fun date with a partner, any partner, it carries a strong intuitive sense that there should be nobody & nothing *more* important to me than that individual. But at the same time, obviously a primary/domestic partner is someone at the foundation of your emotional well-being, and the relationship is much more cogent to your day-to-day spiritual existence than another. I don't know how to reconcile the two ideas, but I know I can't bring myself to look into the eyes of a lover and say "Your happiness is 61% as important to me as that of my primary."

I think it's like geometry. We all know that reality happens in 4 dimensions -- length, width, breadth, and duration -- but it's very very hard to represent all 4 dimensions in a 3-dimensional space. You can have a "primary" or more than one primary, and still love other people equally dearly without considering them "secondary" or "second place." But it's extremely hard to put into words how this is possible, even though we experience it all the time.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 04-25-2012, 11:09 PM
kdt26417's Avatar
kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
Official Greeter
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Olympia, Washington
Posts: 3,599
Default

Re (from nycindie):
Quote:
"If there is any kind of cult worship going on in poly circles, I would call it 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."
Ahem, LOL, D'OH that's gotta hurt ... and I believe it does happen, all too often (which makes the "good-guy unicorn hunters" look bad).

Re (from nycindie):
Quote:
"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?"
That shade of "unicorn scenario" could almost be thought of as a hybrid version of swing ... where the "core couple" remains "emotionally monogamous," not letting the third person into the "inner circle." Not quite a precise way to put it, but this one's tricky to describe in words.

Re: BDSM ... my understanding (as an ignernt vaniller type) of the D/s (or M/s) dynamic is that although the Master has the Power, he/she is supposed to take on that mantle as a sacred trust and responsibility, with the happiness of the slave/submissive being a high priority ... not just fling the Power around at whim and personal fancy. At least that's what I've heard.

Re: the "cult" dynamic as a poly phenomenon ... well in a primary/secondary structure (not counting the ones where it's just because the "secondary" is an LDR or something), there's an implied "Boss" (or Boss-Couple), and then there is/are the underlying/s or secondary/ies. Doesn't automatically equate to a cult situation, but it can be, if the Boss/es abuse/s hir/their power. But bear in mind, the traditional model of monogamy has been patriarchal and as such it, too, sets up one person (i.e., the husband) as the Boss. Same potential for misuse of power (and a cult-like atmosphere -- picture the classic wife-beating abusive husband and his cowering, enabling wife).

Re: use of the word "secondary" ... at first glance may seem deplorable, but sometimes what word is there for someone who is less involved in your life than your "central" (or domestic, or "primary") partner? People have struggled (and argued) to come up with a solution, and there doesn't seem to be an easy/popular one at hand.

Just some of my random thoughts ...
__________________
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 04-25-2012, 11:38 PM
Vixtoria's Avatar
Vixtoria Vixtoria is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 297
Default

Two things this made me think of. One is that I read a great research book once that had a kind of quiz for cults. I remember taking it for various situations. Many religions, Christianity and some very adamant atheists, as well as quite a few MONO relationships would qualify.

Secondly, there is SO not a live and let live philosophy in the poly community. There are a lot of 'my poly is better than yours' and somewhat superior sounding people. There is a MAJOR division between 'single' and married polys. Between hierarchal and non hierarchal. Instead of a 'what works for you as long as EVERYONE agrees' there's a very definite 'if you say it works but I still think it's unfair and wrong'.

I'll admit I'm gobsmacked by certain arrangements or situations and will ask for clarification if only to try and wrap my head around it! I try to ignore the little remarks though. As a married woman with kids I get it from all sides. Queer community doesn't quite get or accept either. I will agree, however, when you start calling people's situations cult like, you have lost the argument with me. Might as well go with the 'all poly people are pedophiles forcing girls into sexual servitude!' argument. You are just trolling, IMHO.

That or you REALLY think you aren't insulting people and I worry for your empathy skills in that case.
__________________
Me: Late 30s pansexual poly.
DH: My husband of 19 yrs and father of 3 teen girls.
DC: LDR of +4 year
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 04-26-2012, 01:57 AM
DevotedGeek's Avatar
DevotedGeek DevotedGeek is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Posts: 22
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by redpepper View Post
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 pecking order of some kind. If someone steps out of line they are moved down that line or ostracized. [...] I see *some* Primary/Secondary relationships people undertake as coming from a "cult" mentality. [...] 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.
I agree. Some couples may abuse the "primary/secondary" nomenclature to assert unfair authority within a poly family, such as abandoning a secondary arbitrarily and without protections. Common law protects married couples via alimony and (in some states) community property, thus ensuring a partner that sacrifices career over family isn't suddenly destitute after a divorce. Unfortunately, no such protections exist for polyamory. To the contrary, some states (e.g. Virginia's Marshall-Newman Amendment) go so far as to make it invalid to approximate the protections of marriage via written contract. What jerks!

But I assume you're talking about a different type of abuse, primaries yielding power similar to a cult leader over their flock. Ok, so what is a cult? According to the Great Wikipedia (all hail the Wikipedia!), a cult is a group in which coercion is used to recruit and maintain members and typically includes:
  1. Mind control
  2. Potential for harm
  3. Brainwashing
  4. Charismatic leader
Therefore, if primaries use coercion and manipulation to control a secondary and possibly put him/her in harm's way, then that's akin to cult-like behavior. Or more specifically, they're jerks.

But does the "primary/secondary" approach itself inherently encourage cult-like behavior, or is it merely a tool for un-scrupulous jerks to use in coercing their victims? And in the hands of a scrupulous poly, could it be a tool for managing open, loving relationships? Here's some real-world "primary/secondary" scenarios that (IMHO) don't resemble cults:
  1. Two married couples want to form a quad but keep their respective marriages as their primary relationship.
  2. An open couple only wants private, pair-bonded relationships (as opposed to forming a triad/quad/V/N/W/etc.) and maintains their original relationship as primary.
  3. A spouse wants to join another couple, but both couples want to keep their original relationships as primary.
  4. A partner from one poly group (a triad/quad/V/N/W/etc.) wants a private pair-bonded relationship with a partner from another poly group, but each wants their respective "group affiliation" to be primary. Or perhaps they want their "group affiliation" to be secondary to their pair-bonded relationship together?
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the "primary/secondary" nomenclature is that it enables partners that want this type of relationship to clearly articulate it up-front. Otherwise, different partners have different expectations, and jealousy and hurt feelings ensue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by redpepper View Post
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.
D/s is completely outside my area of expertise. I'm told that a good Master/Mistress respects their sub, boundaries and informed consent are established ahead of time, play is structured (clear transitions in and out of role), safe words (and for new subs, a silent alarm partner) may be used, etc. Without this level of respect and negotiation, and especially if negotiation is coerced, then it could be akin to cult-like behavior (mind control, potential for harm, etc.), or worse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by redpepper View Post
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.
That kind of unicorn hunter sucks. I want to protect all those unicorns and provide them a loving environment to live and flourish. And I agree that equals/co-primaries is a WAY better approach for triad or V type relationships... that's what we did for our little poly family. But I'm also open to being a secondary with an OSO if that makes more sense for her situation and it's what we agree to up-front.

Quote:
Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
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. [...] Many people make primary/secondary relationship work well for all involved.
Damn... I feel pwn3d. Opalescent stated exactly how I feel, but so much more succinctly.

Footnotes:
  • The term "cult" fell out of favor with social scientists by the late 1980s because they generally felt the theory of mind control doesn't have scientific merit when describing religious movements. The modern, value-neutral term for "cult" is "new religious movement".
  • It's interesting to note that many considered the Kerista Commune in the early 1970s to 1990s to be a cult. They supposedly functioned similar to a religious order, proposed a world plan to establish a utopian society, had a charismatic leader (John "Bro Jud" Presmont) with his own TV broadcast, and required all adult males to have vasectomies. This was also the birthplace of the terms "polyfidelity" and "compersion", but I digress.
__________________
Me: 45 y/o straight male geek, Wife: hinge geek, Metamour: also a geek ;-)

Last edited by DevotedGeek; 04-26-2012 at 10:32 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 04-26-2012, 02:47 AM
Shadowgbq Shadowgbq is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 18
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vixtoria View Post
Secondly, there is SO not a live and let live philosophy in the poly community. There are a lot of 'my poly is better than yours' and somewhat superior sounding people. There is a MAJOR division between 'single' and married polys. Between hierarchal and non hierarchal. Instead of a 'what works for you as long as EVERYONE agrees' there's a very definite 'if you say it works but I still think it's unfair and wrong'.
Interesting. I don't agree w/ you that the OP is trolling. But, I do see the intolerance & double-talk you're talking about.

So much of what our society considers a "cult" is based on popular opinion & trends rather than reason. There are commonly accepted institutions such as Alcoholics Anonymous that fit almost every trait of a cult that anyone can think of, but they're accepted and even encouraged. Meanwhile there are unpopular religions & spiritual groups that are often considered 'cults' simply because millions of people don't belong to them.

I think the greater problem is that our society is so philosophically bankrupt that only bromides & superstitions are widely believed. Almost everyone claims to be a moral relativist, but on another level they realize that's impossible & absurd, so it becomes open season on what people should tolerate & what they shouldn't. If you never, ever judge any consensual activity at all as unhealthy, you have a helluva hard time esteeming the good stuff, since it's the flip side of the same coin.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 04-26-2012, 12:46 PM
CielDuMatin's Avatar
CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Upstate New York, USA
Posts: 1,456
Default

When it comes to any issue like this I have a couple of levels of how I judge things (and yes, I do judge things).

The first is whether it is or isn't healthy, in my opinion. This has more to do with the specific situation and the people involved than judging any particular way of doing things. Usually, this has a lot to do with whether or not the people involved are happy and content and fully consenting.

Then I have what is right for me - something that I would entertain having in my life. I can talk about what is or isn't healthy for me in a relationship. This is, by definition, a lot narrower than the first one.

I have a problem with the folks who bash the hierarchical style of poly. If they want to say "it may be fine for others, but not for me", then that's fine, but to say that it is automatically an unhealthy way of having a relationship is, frankly, insulting to those that make it work, in the same way that saying monogamy is somehow inferior to poly (or saying it is "unnatural") is insulting to those that are doing a great job of making it work. Are there some who are doing hierarchical poly really badly? Yes, of course! There are folks doing each style of poly and each style of monogamy really, really badly. But I'm not going to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater - it doesn't make it RONG (to coin a spelling style I have seen elsewhere).

I think that linking the idea of hierarchical poly to the word "cult" in the title is inflammatory - the written text of the OP makes it plain that she is talking about *some* folks who turn it into a cult (presumably implying that it is unhealthy). A "cult" can be seen as any group whose beliefs or practices are considered to be abnormal or bizarre (that's from Wikipedia) - by that definition, from the perspective of the mono world, the whole of poly is a cult.

To go further, an aspect of cults is that "some form of coercive persuasion or mind control is used to recruit and maintain members by suppressing their ability to reason, think critically, and make choices in their own best interest" - I think that we have all seen poly situations whether this applies, and I would tend to agree that this often manifests itself in hierarchical relationships, often with a big dose of d/s dynamic thrown in. Often these are done as an ego-crutch for the narcissistic dominant in the group. We've all seen it, I think, if we have spent any time around poly discussions.

So, in a similar discussion to that which happens with religious cults, the question is whether or not this is by definition bad for the participants. Are there such things as "good cults"?

I am in a mono/poly relationship (which some have said is unhealthy and can't work in the long run). It is by agreement of all involved hierachical in that certain compromises have been put in place to make sure that everyone gets what they need. I would not even begin to suggest to anyone that the set-up of my relationship structure is some model that everyone should live by - I know it wouldn't work for a lot of the folks on the poly boards (most of whom I have a healthy dose of respect for), but does that make what we are doing bad, or a cult? There are quite a few relationship configurations that others espouse, or live by, that I wouldn't even begin to consider in my own life, but that doesn't make them automatically unhealthy, as far as I am concerned.
__________________
Please check out The Birdcage - an open, friendly Polyamory forum for all parts of New York State
http://www.thebirdcage.org/

"Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf." - Native American Proverb
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 04-26-2012, 02:19 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 278
Default

I don't see the difference in how to avoid the situations discussed in the OP from how they could/should/would be handled in any style of relationship. If you're not being treated the way you want to be even after speaking up for yourself - you leave the relationship. Anything else is you being a passive part of the problem. Why then point fingers at any style of relationship? I find when people start point fingers and identifying differences with an Us VS Them mentality, they're usually needing reassurance of their own practices.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 04-27-2012, 02:08 AM
wildflowers wildflowers is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Boston area
Posts: 152
Default

I actually find the degree of negativity associated with the term secondary rather surprising. I guess a lot of people attach greater/different meaning to it than I do, and assume a hierarchy in all aspects, which I never mean to imply.

I call myself a secondary wrt my boyfriend, and him that wrt to me, because it seems a reasonable description of how much we are able to offer each other. In terms of time, family support, shared experiences, we simply have less than with our respective spouses. That does not mean we love each other less, or that we would say the other is less important to us, but marriage and family are in fact constraints. We both recognize them and tend to accept them, and while we both sometimes want more, I don't think we tend to think that the other is neglecting or not sufficiently valuing our relationship.

In fact its not a term we use in speaking to each other either; its just a (mostly) convenient shorthand on sites like this. Except that since the term doesn't bother me, I tend to forget when using it that it may trigger a lot of bad associations in others. For me it has no association of an imbalance or abuse of power.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
cults, d/s, primary, primary/secondary, triads, unicorn, unicorns, unicron hunting, vees

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 10:35 AM.