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  #21  
Old 05-17-2012, 09:27 PM
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blytheandbonny blytheandbonny is offline
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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. So, thanks!

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:

Quote:
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?

@RP

Quote:
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.

@ DH

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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.


@Tonberry

Quote:
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.

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Originally Posted by Tonberry View Post

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.
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  #22  
Old 05-17-2012, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
Ciel,Do you have any mono partners?
Yes I do - we've been together for 20 years, and she was by my side through my 'coming out of my shell and discovering poly" process. We talked endlessly, and got some professional help in order to try to understand each other better.
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  #23  
Old 05-17-2012, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by blytheandbonny View Post
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?
A highly interesting choice of words....

My mono partner and I spent many long nights trying to explain to each other the feelings and mental processes that we were each feeling. While we each understood the other in our heads, our hearts were screaming "yes, but..! Yes, but..!"

one example is a story I have told on here a few times before - I was doing my once-a-month 4 hour drive to see my oso - obviously I was bored, and liked to talk to each of them on the phone during the drive. One one occasiona, I was halfway into the drive and I mentioned to my partner that I live with that I missed her... there followed a cold silence, followed by a very terse "if you missed me, you wouldn't going to see her, you'd be staying at home with me." (or words to that effect). In spite of all the talking, what I was doing (leaving her) was inconsistent with what I was telling her (that I missed her), whereas to me there was no clash there at all - it made perfect sense.

And, after many attempts to attempt to "get" the other person on a gut level, we realised that it was quite futile - we were just wired differently for love. And we realised that we had to have faith in the other (and yes, "faith" was the word we used!). it may not compute for you, but your partner isn't lying to you, isn't telling you garbage just to sleep with you,etc.

That was a major break-through for us. I won't say that the talking stopped - we still need to do the "tune-ups" once in a while to make sure that the faith is well-established, but it certainly changed how we talked with each other.
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  #24  
Old 05-18-2012, 12:43 AM
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Maybe this will be too general, but I want to share my first impressions I get whenever the topic about the different relationship styles is talked about. I wondered about the different perspectives as well when things started. But it came down to some simple things the longer I (and I am able to say We here as well) thought about it and let it sink in.

The wish, desire, need to love. Each of us (poly-me, mono-husband, mono-other-spouse) desire to be with the person we love. Fullstop. Regardless of how many there may be. There is no condition to this first aspect, just love, feelings and being true to them.

After this, the condition enters the game. The question of 'how' we want to love and more importantly, how we want to be loved, stands a whole different page. And another one is the way each of us pictures this wish to come true. I had to learn, that even if my wish my differ from the others' wishes, that I can't make a value judgement about theirs because they are different from mine. And in the case vice versa as well. What does it matter that I don't understand how the other person is loving me? (Talking about the point of view of my boyfriend here, he clearly stated that he can't imagine how it would be like to love more than one and how that has to be for me, but he doesn't care about this lack of knowledge as long as the next condition is in place: ) The most important fact is to feel loved and be satisfied with that.

That's why I always think about the point of arguing about different relationship styles. There seem to be cases were they work. There are people satisfied with different relationship in their life. No one can tell you how you yourself would feel in this situation, therefore each of us has to find the individual path to happiness.

Quote:
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?
I guess this is simply true for all relationships. You need to have faith in the feelings the other person is showing you and have faith in the way this resonates with you. You will never be able to 'control' or get some solid proof of the real feelings of your partner. Those are his, you can only judge the way this evokes feelings within yourself. And if you feel satisfied with that. That's how our 'mono/poly sitch' works.

It took time as all changes need some time to become normal and processable. The answer wasn't there immediately, so don't worry about not having a clue what your feelings want to tell you right now. Just keep listening to them and sorting them out. If you come out in a place where you are able to feel comfortable, things are fine. If not, search for the things missing for you. This, again, will just need some time.

(As I said, purely my take on the matter and maybe a bit too general for an answer.)
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  #25  
Old 05-18-2012, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by blytheandbonny View Post
@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.
You give me too much credit. I made it sound easy, which it surely isn't.

Truely the success of such relationships is strictly based on all partners willingness to at least TRY to make this work. ALL parties involved must support the arrangement. My comments spoke to what I ideally try to do everyday to fill my life with growth and love. Make no mistake, it does get lonely. And it can get frustrating when you find that one or both of the other parties is an unwilling participant, when life gets busy or complicated, it's easy to put the Secondary at the bottom end of the priority list.

That's when hard decisions must be made. Sometimes love is not enough. If one gives up trying, why should the other continue? It's futile. That is relevant in all relationships - poly or mono.

There are a few of us Mono-Sec on here. I'm sure many would agree with me that we strive for the health of the relationship as a whole, but at times we can be left on the sidelines. There is a definite imbalance. That's where my life strategies have the most positive impact on my life and attitude.

There has been advice on these threads on the Mono-Sec choice that say we should just get another lover, bf, gf, whatever to fill the space between . It's not that easy! We are Mono by choice, by hard wire, DNA, whatever. We believe in poly and that people can love more than one person, we just don't care or choose to do that. We are wired for one. So that's tough to consider as you don't want to give up on the one that you love to move on to another and you don't want to hurt that person either because you know that they do love you. My bf and I have talked about this at length on too many occasions. He knows that I'm committed to him, it hurts him to think of me being lonely and his hands are tied to try to help regardless of how much he wants to and needs to be with me more. And he really doesn't like the idea of me finding another because he knows what that means to him, he would be out of the picture. It's not easy for any of us.

It's probably why others refrained from comment because they know that they are in this only because they love and are committed to the person they are with, and they will do their best to make things work for all involved. But if circumstances change and they are forced (by their own hand or the couples) to leave, given the choice to do this again in the future, they'd most likely opt out.
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:07 PM
FigNewtonian FigNewtonian is offline
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Originally Posted by newtoday View Post
It's probably why others refrained from comment because they know that they are in this only because they love and are committed to the person they are with, and they will do their best to make things work for all involved. But if circumstances change and they are forced (by their own hand or the couples) to leave, given the choice to do this again in the future, they'd most likely opt out.
At the risk of raising the hackles of BaB (*kiss*) this paragraph is why I was/am very vocal about being understanding, and loving, if she needed to make another choice for her best interest.

She, of course, sees those statements as a sign that she's ancillary to my continued happiness — easily disposable. Which, of course, is not accurate. I just don't feel comfortable exerting any sort of undue pressure or influence over someone's individual choices — particularly when I stand to directly benefit.

The fact is that until this situation arose, I always considered myself mono. This thing has made me reconsider if I'm mono because I'm wired that way or if I'm mono because society says that I'm supposed to be mono.

I think what I've taken away in the last few weeks is that I'm "wired for poly" in as much as I accept it, understand it, am capable of feeling love for two people without diminishing returns, but that I don't require it for my continued happiness. My mono life wasn't deficient in the area of "love" or emotional fulfillment. Edit: Note, that this is how I am. I'm not suggesting this is the norm or default for everyone, nor should it be.

If circumstances fall into place, I would be perfectly content, and very much expect to settle into a mono life again with BaB at some point in the future. For me intellectually this is talking to people who have lived on the mountain — even if all you intend to do is get to the top and look around, and then head back down.

Last edited by FigNewtonian; 05-18-2012 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:26 PM
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First, without plowing through the rest of the thread (so probably nothing revolutionary):

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Is being a secondary necessarily a comment on where I am in the hierarcy v. where the relationship stands on its own merit relative to SO's life, given the natural evolution of the relationship as it stands now?
I've always read it as more the latter. I feel no less loved than if I were primary. I just don't live with them. However, your situation is not mine, and we have been explicit about these matters with each other.

Quote:
If all of my emotional, mental, and physical nourishment needs are being met in the relationship as it stands right now in this moment in time, does the SO's relationship with anyone else (primary or otherwise) make what I have/get less? I'm still winning, yes?
That's the idea, IMO. We give what we can to the people we love, and no, it's not "less" because we aren't giving it all to one person.

Quote:
On one hand, regardless of my SO's relationship with anyone else, his and my relationship has to have it's own growth pattern and rhythm. I can't predict the future, but I do see and am excited by the potential.
Exactly this. And if your needs stop being met, then you have the right to speak up. If you are not content, say so instead of letting it rot inside you.

Quote:
And, again, if needs are being met, what does being "secondary" even mean in the big picture?
Only, as far as I'm concerned, that you don't live with them and aren't raising a family together. At some point, the terms may come to mean even less to you.

I should clarify that I identify as poly and am "secondary" (see first answer) but am not seeing anyone else at the moment, with few possibilities on the horizon.
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Old 05-18-2012, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by FigNewtonian View Post
At the risk of raising the hackles of BaB (*kiss*) this paragraph is why I was/am very vocal about being understanding, and loving, if she needed to make another choice for her best interest.

She, of course, sees those statements as a sign that she's ancillary to my continued happiness easily disposable. Which, of course, is not accurate. I just don't feel comfortable exerting any sort of undue pressure or influence over someone's individual choices particularly when I stand to directly benefit.
Are you sure you aren't my BF??!! LOL!!! This sounds almost exactly what he has said to me in the past in response to my concern about being disposable and with regards to doing what's best for me, in my best interest.


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Originally Posted by FigNewtonian View Post
If circumstances fall into place, I would be perfectly content, and very much expect to settle into a mono life again with BaB at some point in the future. For me intellectually this is talking to people who have lived on the mountain even if all you intend to do is get to the top and look around, and then head back down.
You know, my bf has said that for being involved with 2 women, he is the most loyal and faithful man I'll ever meet. And I believe him. I believe circumstances nudged him into an Open Relationship and luck moved us into a Poly situation. There's more than 2 of us in this relationship but I trust him implicitly. That's a perk of having such open, honest, caring communication.

Thank you for your insights and on my bf's behalf, thank you for that reinforcement! Have a great weekend!
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  #29  
Old 05-18-2012, 09:48 PM
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@newtoday has covered a lot of the ground I might have offered about of the joys and pains of being a secondary without a primary. Thanks, new!

@BaB, if you feel like you're winning, then run with it. Nothing is set in stone. It looks like you're running with your eyes open, which beats the alternative.

As far as one of your questions goes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by blytheandbonny View Post
So perhaps the question - at least for me in figuring out the whole cosmic configuration in what is all brand-new territory - is what the potential future holds?
This is an issue I struggle with regularly. It's a big one for me. After the NRE disappated, I was left to wonder where all this is going. What am I doing? Some days, it makes sense, other days, it's futile. One day, maybe I'll figure it out.

On the other hand, maybe your relationship has a more specific trajectory. You mentioned the "golden path" in your original post, and I'm quoting FigNewtonian below.
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Originally Posted by FigNewtonian View Post
If circumstances fall into place, I would be perfectly content, and very much expect to settle into a mono life again with BaB at some point in the future. For me intellectually this is talking to people who have lived on the mountain even if all you intend to do is get to the top and look around, and then head back down.
If it's not too much to ask, FigNewtonian, why do you believe you will be monogamous with BaB in the future? Is she holding out for a particular circumstance? What made you choose the polyamorous path vs. the monogamous path you were on previously?
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Old 05-19-2012, 12:41 AM
FigNewtonian FigNewtonian is offline
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Originally Posted by PaperGrace View Post
If it's not too much to ask, FigNewtonian, why do you believe you will be monogamous with BaB in the future? Is she holding out for a particular circumstance? What made you choose the polyamorous path vs. the monogamous path you were on previously?
I'm separated, about to get divorced from my wife who is asexual. She's the other side of the V, if you will.

I love her, cherish her, and am giving her the type of physical affection she craves. If, on the rare moment when the planets align, she decides she wants more, then I'll be there to offer it in the spirit of love and understanding.

The alternative is to leave her in a situation where she seeks that out with other men who don't understand asexuality or don't believe in it. She's already had this issue once with a guy who wouldn't let it go insisting that she just needed a good screw and that as a woman he knows she wants it.

The poly arrangement allows me to stay part of her life, giving her the level of involvement she wants/needs, while not limiting myself to a life of essential celibacy. And let's not be disingenuous I do want and enjoy that contact as well.

I tried FWB. It was hollow. Empty. I need the mental, emotional, physical package to be fulfilled. I found that perfectly with BaB.

There will, almost certainly, come a time when the wife realizes that she's ready to find an asexual mate to share her life someone who she can live with full time (I've moved into my own place) and be close to without the pressures and expectations of sex.

When she does, we'll disentangle, and I'll welcome her new beau into the extended family but at that point I fully expect to revert to mono status again. I'll love her, but it will be a different, by necessity, type of love.

If the trajectory continues with BaB and myself, then I expect to marry her.

This is a poly by circumstance situation. What I have gained, though, is the real view of how it can and does work. Before this situation I thought for sure poly was a bunch of people who just wanted to have multiple sexual partners under the guise of some overarching morally-justifiable excuse to do so. I don't think that's true anymore although to be fair, I'm sure there's a not insignificant amount of that out there. There are plenty of forum posts here that seem to back that up.

TL;DNR: It's a lifestyle choice that all three of us seem to be able to deal with despite not being our default states. There's love, kindness, genuine want for all parties to be happy. That's good enough for now.
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