First, in general, this has given me much to think about. I just knew that others had given this tons of thought and could articulate different ways to consider and different perspectives.
As I've said elsewhere, for me, this is all new pathways of thinking (less than a month now), and slothful creature that I am, am eager to leverage the experiences and knowledge of others farther along the road instead of trying to think it all up on my own.
When I posted the first discussion, I really was sort of turning over what the word secondary means, what the implications of hierarchy are now and long-term, and probing at gut reactions v. examining the reasons for those gut reactions.
@TGIG Thank you for this interesting analysis of different ways to perceive / define / explain the possible applications of hierarchical labels/models.
@NewToday Wow! Thanks for sharing your experience as a mono/secondary. It's heartening to read that though you are not the co-habitating partner and the partner whose time shared together is more limited that you are fulfilled and consider yourself to have a complete life. As I rediscovered with my dissolved marriage, it's so important to be a well-rounded person whose many needs are fed from many different sources. It's interesting to me that your description of the time and energy you have for those healthy non-relationship life enhancing things seems to be galvanized by the time boundaries you two share.
@CielDuMatin Fantastic articulation. Appreciate the contrast views, particularly this:
If we're talking about love and commitment, to someone mentally wired to the monogamous way of thinking, that answer is yes, absolutely it is less. If someone loves someone else as well as you, then they absolutely are not loving you 100% - you are only getting a piece of the pie.
To a poly person, this absolutely does not compute. For them, there isn't a pie to get divided up - love isn't a zero-sum game. Loving someone else doesn't have any bearing on how much you love someone.
Now there are two other things that are NOT infinite - time and money. Those are definitely a "piece of the pie", no matter how everyone is wired, and need to be negotiated.
Thinking about how this works in a successful and mutually fulfilling mono/poly sitch. Perhaps the mono cognitively grasps the poly's perspective and just lets go and has faith?
He has always called himself my secondary, but he is only in terms of no shared assets. He lives with my husband and I and contributes to the house, but if my husband and I were to split we would have to sort out assets, bf and I don't have to do that.
How...practical. When my guy described what being primary meant to him, it was very much couched in logistical practical terms (not entirely, but largely.) He pointed out to me that to each of the three of us, these words and perceptions of relative roles are informed by totally different sets of criteria. I found it very calming that the practical logistics were a factor in his own definition.
The general question was if one person has a single romantic focus why settle for a fraction ....(depending on the number of partners) in return?
Complicating that discussion the words "all" and "love" got used with the infinite shades of gray that come alone with them.
Yes, this is the original question. As a newb, I failed to anticipate how loaded the word "settle" could be, too. After reading through here and giving this a lot of thought, it seems to me (and I totally own that I'm stepping into an unfamiliar mental construct, so I might be missing the mark entirely) that from the poly perspective, there is no such thing as settling when it comes to love and devotion in a romantic relationship.
Further, the practical matters that often accompany a romantic relationship (housing, time allocation, and so forth) have to be dealt with/managed but for the poly person are non-essential to the experience of and unrelated to the depth, intensity, sincerity, or longevity of romantic love itself.
Yet for the mainstream mono person, this is not necessarily the case - these things are intertwined...so that having a limited, defined boundary around those practical matters might in fact feel like settling for less, depending on that person's perspective.
There are other reasons you could be a "secondary", even in a monogamous relationship. If your partner had a very demanding job for instance. If they had obligations towards their family (a sick family member, maybe, or children from a previous relationship). If they had a strong relationship with their friends and saw them more often that the average person.
How true! Yes, I've definitely experienced this and observed it often. Hadn't thought of it in that context.
Originally Posted by Tonberry
What I read here is "my needs are being met. So it's okay, right?" and "It's possible that it will stay that way, right?" as in "I'm a bit incredulous that I don't feel taken advantage of here. It seems (from friends, society, whatever) that I should. Is the other shoe going to drop?"
But the feelings of "wait, shouldn't I feel bad about it? Am I going to regret it later?" are pretty common in polyamory when you start out. In my experience at least. I don't think it means the OP feels a need for symmetry. Only that they're curious about why they don't, and want to check if there are others in the same case.
I would very much like to know what the OP has to say about it, if I got it right or not.
Um, sort of? My main motivation for this post was to consider the question intellectually, but where I stand on this personally is better described as,
"Until this poly thing was introduced a couple of weeks ago, I totally felt my needs were being met. Given that this is the case, and I will still be offered what I was being offered before (and more as the relationship evolves), I am sort of confused about whether or not I feel like I am getting less now."
One of things I've learned about myself in therapy is that I'm not always good at identifying feelings immediately. They have to process and simmer - sometimes the feeling has to pass entirely before I can accurately identify it in hindsight. Usually it's when I'm encountering something complex for which I don't have an established framework.
So I honestly can't tell where I stand on the need for symmetry at the moment. Perhaps it says something that I don't strongly feel that it's an absolute must. I think once I have a better intellectual grasp of as many variables as possible I can figure it out though.