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Old 07-18-2012, 02:54 PM
Elinan Elinan is offline
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Default Seeing it through someone else's eyes

I've been thinking a lot lately about how it feels to be my 'secondary' person and not looking for anyone to help me 'fix' anything but simply to give me anything that would help make me a better partner with a more patient outlook... =)

I've never had any actual heartbreak in my life on the relationship-front -- crazy, right? But he has had a lot (long term relationship break up, women who tried to change him, no one who just let him be him). So while I very easily move my feet based on the urges of my heart I can intellectually understand how it is much harder for him. (As a side note here my husband had been heartbreak-laden at the onset of our relationship, but our relationship was so different, and being younger, you just look at things differently, I wish I'd recognized this earlier so I could have been a better partner for him earlier on and seen our early relationship –which probably progressed at a speed that scared the shit out of him--through his more-heartbroken-eyes.)

So what I struggle with is that I'm here, giving the love, without all the stuff he never wanted (rings, drama, not being whole and individual people) and knows I'll never ask for. He's on board with the situation and with me entirely. He had not known about polyamory before me but it jives very well with things he's wanted in his life and his outlook toward love. I know you can't take out all the old-heartbreak-trust-issue-stuff but how does it look like in your head when polyamory is involved? Shouldn't it look a bit different when the woman you're getting involved with is just looking for pure connection and offering acceptance and love? The freedom is there, the honesty and openness is there, is it simply just the difficulty in moving one's feet because the heart is saying, “you may get hurt”?

I'm being patient (which is taking some strength on my part), waiting, communicating that, being here and being open to what he needs, which is time. I'd just love to understand it better.
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:17 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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The new boyfriend is struggling or both husband and boyfriend are struggling.

And what specifically are his/ their issue?
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  #3  
Old 07-18-2012, 03:46 PM
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Marcus Marcus is offline
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Default Primary - Secondary

The whole "primary/secondary" classification is not something I've really thought about until I came onto these boards. I have been acquainted with a couple of triads and folks in open relationships and have heard these terms but I hadn't put much thought into it. It seems that everyone gets a rank in the hierarchy, primary is the relationship that matters and secondary is the relationship that doesn't. Sugar coat it all you want, but that is the truth of the matter as far as I can tell (if it isn't, you guys might really consider using language that is not explicitly hierarchical).

I have no problem with people being in relationships that make them happy, but if these boards have a story to tell it is that these "secondary" relationships tend to have some real frustration. I can't blame them, I wouldn't enjoy being classified as secondary (or primary, for that matter) and would see myself to the door if I found that's how I was being thought of. This idea of assigning rank to relationships seems very dogmatic to me, archaic even. Why would I ever tell someone that I loved "I love you, but your life and feelings are not as important as my primary, get used to it"? That just seems cruel to me.

To find out how it feels to be a secondary partner you need only read through these boards. The general consensus, as far as I can tell, is that it feels about the way that it sounds... like being secondary.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:16 PM
sparklepop sparklepop is offline
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So... am I right in understanding that basically, your boyfriend is scared of getting hurt? That it's making him reluctant to delve deeper into your relationship with him?

I'll check back and see if you post any extra bits to see if I can possibly help you more, rather than bark up the wrong tree.


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Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
primary is the relationship that matters and secondary is the relationship that doesn't. Sugar coat it all you want, but that is the truth of the matter as far as I can tell (if it isn't, you guys might really consider using language that is not explicitly hierarchical).

...I wouldn't enjoy being classified as secondary (or primary, for that matter) and would see myself to the door if I found that's how I was being thought of.

To find out how it feels to be a secondary partner you need only read through these boards. The general consensus, as far as I can tell, is that it feels about the way that it sounds... like being secondary.
Just to latch onto this side note, if I may...

I think it very much depends on how you look at hierarchical poly. At the end of the day, you're right - a secondary is less important for some people. Not as a person, but as a priority in that person's life.

Whilst the heart might be without restriction... there are only so many hours in a day, only so many physical limitations that can be crossed. If every person we dated was of 'equal' priority, could we end up with 20 partners? How would we share time and love equally? If we stopped at two or three extra partners, are we missing out on the sexual freedom that comes with poly; because we essentially stay with those same people forever?

Furthermore, some people on here, myself included, talk about poly more in terms of polysexuality than polyamory. I believe I am capable of loving more than one, but prefer, currently, to keep it on a friendship/sex level only, outside of my main relationship.

I don't actually think there's anything wrong with hierarchical poly at all - if everyone's happy with it.

I've used the term 'secondary' on here, but in our relationship, we usually just call each other 'girlfriend' and other people 'play partners'. We say play partners because that's what it is.... friends with benefits or BDSM play partners, with no desire for love or to take things any further at present.

But from my point of view... I actually like the term 'secondary' in a certain sense.

I wouldn't mind being referred to as a secondary. If I'm dating a woman, whether she loves me or not, and she's got a home and a life with someone else, especially if children are involved, I wouldn't mind not being her first priority. I can always get out if my thoughts change. I can always seek a second partner who becomes a 'primary' for me, if I need to be someone's priority.

There are of course triads and poly people that act on a more levelled basis. My girlfriend, for example, also has a husband. She sees me as 'equal' to him in terms of priority.

For us, polyamory is something we believe in, but that can be difficult in practice. If all new partners are equal in every sense, how many of us are going to end up living together? How many influences are we having on our daughter? Etc. For us, polysexuality works, whilst still believing in the potential of our hearts being open.... so a hierarchical approach keeps that clearer for everyone, to avoid hurt.

I can see why the terminology can seem offensive, but I can also see why it can be useful.
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Last edited by sparklepop; 07-18-2012 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:53 PM
Elinan Elinan is offline
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It's not my husband, it's the 'boyfriend' or the 'secondary person' I hate all these terms because of what they imply and don't imply all at once! I haven't used the term secondary with him because I don't like it. I also don't ever want to imply that it's secondary to my primary, because it is equal love if differing commitment and futures.

He's mostly at the point just wanting to take it very, very slow face-to-face. He's the type that's always pushed away women for fear of (and it seems a history of) getting hurt, and has even said he's struggling to push me away, and can't really. We are still really early into this (let me repeat as it bears repeating, early, months into this and I have no illusions of grandeur and know that there's many people on this planet...) and separated by 500 miles, so it's the hesitancy to actually meet up and spend a weekend.

So it's that raw intellectual understanding I'm looking for, of why it feels so hard for him to move his feet based on the good parts he's feeling in his heart. Does that make sense? Hard to put all of this into words and make it say what I'm trying to... =)
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Old 07-18-2012, 05:00 PM
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Marcus Marcus is offline
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Default Equality

Thanks for your honesty sparklepop, and for taking a moment to chime in on the topic of "primary/secondary". I might need to make a topic of this to avoid hijacking the original intent any further.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklepop View Post
There are of course triads and poly people that act on a more levelled basis. My girlfriend, for example, also has a husband. She sees me as 'equal' to him in terms of priority.
This may be at the core of the issue, now that I look at it. I don't see that trying to view relationships as equal or not equal to be of great value. Let me put it this way:

If I gather a group of my friends and acquaintances in the room and sit them down to explain to them their rank in my life, that would be absurd. I start at the left and work my way to the right -

"You are my best friend, you're very important to me"
"You are an acquaintance, I like you but your needs are not important"
"You are my second best friend, if he needs me then I'm ditching you, otherwise you can claim my attention"
"You are a 'gaming buddy' which means I only choose to give you my attention if we are gaming"
"You..."

My friends are not "equal" in that they are individuals and our relationships are fluid. We get different things from each other and there is no need for classification or rank. It would be cruel to do such a thing and, unless I'm starting an army, serves no real purpose. It is the same with my lovers (obviously).

I'm dating Isa, who has a boyfriend she lives with and has been with for many years. I am not secondary to him, even though their lives are entangled in a way that mine and Isas are not. This does not make him more important to her or less important to her. I am not equal to him in a good many ways but that would not change even if the three of us moved in together. He is not equal to me in a good many ways because our skill sets, temperament, and outlooks vary from topic to topic. For me, the classification is a throwback to the control and ownership inherent in monogamy.
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Old 07-18-2012, 05:23 PM
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Default Barriers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elinan View Post
So it's that raw intellectual understanding I'm looking for, of why it feels so hard for him to move his feet based on the good parts he's feeling in his heart. Does that make sense? Hard to put all of this into words and make it say what I'm trying to... =)
I apologize, Elinan, for hijacking your thread. It wasn't my intention.

It seems evident from this angle that there are a number of barriers presented to your boyfriend in regard to his becoming close to you.

Long distance: do you know if he is interested in an LDR?
Polyamory: adapting to a new philosophy of relating to people can be daunting, he may well need some time before he can embrace it. Certainly if the person he is connecting to in this alien fashion lives 500 miles away.
Sympathy: having never experienced heart break (is that really true?) he may be gun-shy to share himself with you because he fears you don't know well enough how to avoid hurting him

This is purely speculation on my part.
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Old 07-18-2012, 06:42 PM
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newtoday newtoday is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
It seems that everyone gets a rank in the hierarchy, primary is the relationship that matters and secondary is the relationship that doesn't. Sugar coat it all you want, but that is the truth of the matter as far as I can tell (if it isn't, you guys might really consider using language that is not explicitly hierarchical).

I have no problem with people being in relationships that make them happy, but if these boards have a story to tell it is that these "secondary" relationships tend to have some real frustration. I can't blame them, I wouldn't enjoy being classified as secondary (or primary, for that matter) and would see myself to the door if I found that's how I was being thought of. This idea of assigning rank to relationships seems very dogmatic to me, archaic even. Why would I ever tell someone that I loved "I love you, but your life and feelings are not as important as my primary, get used to it"? That just seems cruel to me.

To find out how it feels to be a secondary partner you need only read through these boards. The general consensus, as far as I can tell, is that it feels about the way that it sounds... like being secondary.
Thank you for saying that. It is very cruel.

As (for the purpose of this site) "Secondary", I know where I stand and fit in in the relationship. I don't need to be labelled.

My bf and I had this discussion recently. His thoughts were similar to mine when I said that I thought that the "secondary" label was cruel, insulting and derogatory. These stupid labels mean nothing to him. As he stated, I was not "secondary" , I had a place of love and importance in his life that that terms completely undercuts.

And that's what matters. Not the label.

Thanks again for the sensitivity to this hot topic.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
I'm dating Isa, who has a boyfriend she lives with and has been with for many years. I am not secondary to him, even though their lives are entangled in a way that mine and Isas are not. This does not make him more important to her or less important to her. I am not equal to him in a good many ways but that would not change even if the three of us moved in together. He is not equal to me in a good many ways because our skill sets, temperament, and outlooks vary from topic to topic. For me, the classification is a throwback to the control and ownership inherent in monogamy.
THIS! Yes, exactly. Control and ownership.

Last edited by newtoday; 07-18-2012 at 06:45 PM. Reason: ipad typing is terrible!
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  #9  
Old 07-18-2012, 07:11 PM
Elinan Elinan is offline
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Marcus,

LDR is fine. Yes, the polyamory is new, but was simply a label of what he was already doing/knew to be a more open way to love. Sympathy, maybe, but it's been clear from him that he doesn't need me to understand it in the sense I've been through it. Simply to accept him as is. Which is what I'm doing. I'm just trying to see what I'm not seeing, I feel like I'm looking at one of those eye-puzzlers and I see some of the picture but not all of it!

And yes, strange as it is, I've never experienced any relationship heartbreak. It's not for lack of relationship experience, although mine is limited in a sense, it's not non-existent. It just, hasn't, well, happened (yet?). So my experience is certainly the more extreme, his experience is closer to what most people encounter.
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Old 07-18-2012, 07:42 PM
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Marcus Marcus is offline
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Default Heartbreak

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elinan View Post
And yes, strange as it is, I've never experienced any relationship heartbreak. It's not for lack of relationship experience, although mine is limited in a sense, it's not non-existent. It just, hasn't, well, happened (yet?).
I'm certainly not wishing heartbreak on you!! Maybe you'll make it out of this crazy life having never gotten your heart broken into a thousand pieces. We can hope.

Honestly Elinan, it sounds like you are doing fine with your end of the situation. You sound like you are anxious and running out of patience, but that just means it is important to you (which I see as a good thing). The fact that you want so much to be able to relate to his mentality says volumes. I don't have any cool intellectual tid-bits to offer you that you don't already have.

Hang in there
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