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Old 07-08-2010, 08:16 PM
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Default Mono secondary--how does this work?

Hello. All of this is completely new to me, so please forgive what is bound to be an awkward post. I feel like I have a million questions, but this post may end up being more of a search for empathy. Weíll seeÖ

My story feels long and complicated, but the short version is that I am a recently divorced, straight, mono (I believe) woman in a relationship with a man who is in a newly open marriage (weíll call him A). We began our relationship with the intent to have something along the lines of a casual physical friendship. I donít think ďpolyĒ was in either of our vocabularies. Initially, our situation suited me perfectly--I was not interested in any sort of committed relationship, given my recent divorce. But I had made a new friend who I enjoyed spending time with and cared about. I was interested in hearing about how this new open relationship was working for him and his wife (she also has a girlfriend). I was happy and felt that both of us were receiving what we needed and wanted.

Well, along the way, we have fallen deeply in love with each other. This complicated things for all the usual reasons, as well as a few other reasons peculiar to our situation. Without knowing how this was supposed to work, I eventually made the decision to stay in the relationship, despite knowing that the situation sometimes made me sad and that it would probably end painfully for me one day (yes, I am an eternal pessimist). The vast majority of the time I was (and am) happier than I have ever been, and there was no question that any pain I might experience would be worth it.

The first issue that arose was, of course, jealousy. I have never been a jealous person, and it has only happened a couple of times now. But I didnít know how to process the all-consuming jealousy that was so intense that I was left curled up in a ball feeling sick and like I couldnít breathe or think about anything else. So awful that I felt I could not continue the relationship unless I found a way to manage these feelings. Those little episodes resulted in an Internet search, where I stumbled across this wonderful forum and learned that there is actually a name for our type of relationship and that itís really not as unusual as we had thought. I also learned that my relationship with A is secondary, while his marriage is primary. And that, within our little universe, Iím now a mono in a world of polys. Just understanding those basic things has done wonders in helping me understand what Iím feeling, why Iím feeling it, what to do about it, etc.

Fast-forward to today: A and I recently agreed that weíre in a committed, long-term relationship. Iím incredibly happy. But now Iím wondering, how is this supposed to work in a way thatís healthy for everyone involved? Most of the time, Iím fine. I understand that A can and does love two women, that that does not diminish his love for either of us, that heís not comparing us, that his ability to love both of us does not represent any void or shortcoming he feels in his relationship with each of us. Although Iím sad that I canít have the same kind of relationship that A shares with his wife, Iím genuinely happy that his marriage makes him so happy, and I would never wish otherwise for him. So with that out of the way--I still get so sad sometimes. I donít experience the insane jealousy anymore, thankfully. But I become so heartbroken when I randomly realize certain things--like the fact that Iíll never get to spend holidays with him; or the fact that the default is that A shares his life with his wife, and Iím the exception; or that I'm always going to prioritize their relationship and his wife's feelings over mine (I already feel guilty for taking up time A might otherwise be spending with his wife; I know, and he has told me, that they are doing great and any issues like that are theirs to work out--but I can't help being concerned). A is incredibly understanding and patient, and anytime I voice any unhappiness, he is quick to comfort me or find a solution or whatever it is I need in that moment. And I love and appreciate that. But I know it hurts him to see me sad, and I hate feeling like Iím so frequently asking for reassurance. So how do I just make myself ok with this?

And, yes, this is jumping the gun a bit (but again, Iím a pessimist)--how is this supposed to work if I want to one day have a primary relationship? I canít/wonít ever ask A to fully incorporate me into his life in that way. So I suppose I would be looking for a second relationship. Right now, I donít want that, and I have no idea if I ever will. I love A and do not want to be with anyone else. But one day, if I decide that I do need all of those things that just are not a part of a secondary relationship, what are my options? I guess Iím hoping that someone has been in a similar situation and can tell me that, at least for them, it had a positive outcome. Iím not used to living with so many unknowns, and it would just be nice to have a glimpse of what my future could possibly look like.

Iím sorry for the incredibly long post! I guess, in hindsight, I just really needed to ďtalkĒ about this. If youíve actually read this, thanks. And even if no one responds to this post, I just wanted to say that Iím so glad this forum/community exists. Reading these discussions has been the only thing getting me through some very rough nights.
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:58 PM
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There is no reason why you can't work towards more involvement in his life and his wife's. Spend holidays with them, do things with both of them, become part of a family. If that is what you want. You could have a wonderful metamour friendship with her.

Does he see you as secondary? And what does that mean to him? That your needs are considered lesser of his and his wife's? Is that okay with you?

Frankly I would not treat a secondary that way as I don't agree that they should be. Is this how you feel about yourself? How you think it should be?

Mono feels the same way. Although we have never treated him as such. He bows out humbly when he thinks he should. Quite often we drag him into the light by telling him his say is important and expected. He is part of our whole. There is not just me and nerdist now, but me and nerdist and Mono. We are not whole without him. Is this what you want? Or do you always want to be in the background?

There is no reason to look for a primary I would think if there is a chance to be more or a participant. It just takes time and experience. All of which are obtainable. Looking for a primary, by the way, makes you poly.
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:13 PM
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Looking for a primary, by the way, makes you poly.
Nice catch Lilo Not that there is anything wrong with that LOL!
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  #4  
Old 07-08-2010, 09:28 PM
jkelly jkelly is offline
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What is your relationship with his wife like? Have you ever talked? Are you friends? A lot of the time issues in the kind of relationship you are in can be worked out more efficiently when there's open communication between the two people who are dating the same person (or "metamours" as they sometimes get called).

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Originally Posted by newbie View Post
how is this supposed to work if I want to one day have a primary relationship? I canít/wonít ever ask A to fully incorporate me into his life in that way. So I suppose I would be looking for a second relationship. Right now, I donít want that, and I have no idea if I ever will. I love A and do not want to be with anyone else. But one day, if I decide that I do need all of those things that just are not a part of a secondary relationship, what are my options?
I think that this sort of boils down to the choice of whether or not you discover that you like being in poly- relationships and want to continue to have them. If that's the case, you may one day wind up involved with someone who is poly- and perfectly content that you have the relationship with A that you do. If you discover that you don't, then one day you and A will break up, and you'll go on to have mono- relationships in the future.
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:29 PM
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Hi and welcome

You're in the right place. Monovcphg is a mono but I don't think you could call him a secondary. My partner has "secondary" and we have decided that "secondary" is a label that does not do their relationship justice. We now refer to the points on our V as "partner" (because he and I have a committed life together) and "Significant Other".

In our V both SO and I are currently mono so I have some understanding of where you're coming from. You're doing very well I think; being a mono SO is just as difficult as being a mono partner I'm sure, but obviously for different reasons.

Your life will probably evolve in one of two ways, you'll either become more involved with your lover's family (like monovcphg), have you talked about that? Or you'll find another relationship that you will integrate or not depending on its nature.

Don't worry so much about your effect on your SO and his wife, it sounds like they have a good handle on things and your rights and feelings are important and valid. You have enough to deal with, let the guilt go.

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Old 07-08-2010, 09:57 PM
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I started replying to this post when there were 0 replies but was Unavoidably distracted! -hence stupid looking reiteration of material.

@Red Pepper, according to my understanding of the wiki definition of polyamory anyone who is accepting/involved with polyamorous relationships is polyamory. So as a SO newbie already is poly. Just makes us monos feel more included.
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:58 PM
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Thanks for the advice!

He certainly does not treat me as a secondary in the sense that my needs are considered lesser. In fact, heís constantly telling me that his wife and I are of equal importance to him, that I need to tell him if I need something more or different, and that itís perfectly fine if I say, for example, that some arrangement that fits their schedule isnít ideal for me. But youíre rightóthatís how I feel about myself. I feel like I should be or have to be in the background, because theyíre married, and Iím the outsider. Do I want it to be this way? I donít know. I guess I need to think about that. I theoretically really like the idea of becoming part of a family. But Iím a little terrified of being an intruder, third wheel, etc., and I donít know if I could ever stop feeling worried or insecure or guilty. The other big hang-up is that Iíve actually never met his wife. Iím open to the idea, but a bit wary, out of fear that my jealousy will flare up again. And while she knows quite a bit about me, and it sounds like we actually would get along really well, I have no idea if she has any interest in meeting me.

And yeah, I know that looking for a primary would make me poly. And who knows, maybe one day I will discover that I am poly! I'm definitely open to the idea in theory, because I don't want to give up my relationship with A. I guess Iíll just have to wait and seeÖ

If someone who is a secondary or some other third party to a committed couple and doesn't mind sharing, how does this work for you? Do you feel any sort of void or absence from not having a primary relationship? I canít tell if the ďneedĒ I feel for that kind of relationship is societal conditioning that will fade the longer Iím in this relationship or an actual need that I shouldnít ignore.

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Don't worry so much about your effect on your SO and his wife, it sounds like they have a good handle on things and your rights and feelings are important and valid. You have enough to deal with, let the guilt go.
Thanks for the reply! I did not see that when I was writing my last post. I don't mean to pry, so please feel free to ignore this. But I'm very curious as to how you felt about your partner starting a relationship with his SO. I'm hoping it will help me stop feeling guilty. Although A's wife also has another relationship, she had a pretty hard time adjusting to the fact that A and I had fallen in love, and I'm constantly worried that I'm somehow hurting her or making her feel unhappy in some way.

Sorry for the numerous posts! I've been poking around the forum and found several threads that address the questions I posed. So please feel free to disregard (though if anyone does have additional thoughts, I'd love to hear them).

Last edited by redpepper; 07-09-2010 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 07-09-2010, 02:55 AM
FormerUnicorn FormerUnicorn is offline
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Sorry for the numerous posts! I've been poking around the forum and found several threads that address the questions I posed. So please feel free to disregard (though if anyone does have additional thoughts, I'd love to hear them).
Good lord, you're a sweetie.

Poly advice aside, it seems to me that it's your general attitude about yourself that may be the most hindering factor in your V. Relationships of any sort can really bring out our own insecurities, and this one sounds like it's done a number on you. That's not a bad thing! Take some time to explore your own feelings and motivations. Why do you feel the way you do? Why do you feel like you need to apologize for asking well-thought out questions? Is this lack of confidence usual for you, or is it related only to feeling marginalized in your relationship? And how much of that marginalization is self-imposed?

Remember that you have rights in this relationship too, and you are doing your SO no favors by keeping your needs to yourself. He's asking you to be honest with him about your wants and needs, and if you are consistently deferring them in favor of what you think his wife wants and needs, you're denying him the chance to make you happy. Worrying about his relationship with his wife is his job, not yours. Sure, you should take it into consideration, as it's a very large part of his life, but if you spend more time focused on that than about your own relationship with him, then what's the point?

I, for one am curious to hear what his wife says about meeting you.
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Old 07-09-2010, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by FormerUnicorn View Post
Poly advice aside, it seems to me that it's your general attitude about yourself that may be the most hindering factor in your V. Relationships of any sort can really bring out our own insecurities, and this one sounds like it's done a number on you. That's not a bad thing! Take some time to explore your own feelings and motivations. Why do you feel the way you do? Why do you feel like you need to apologize for asking well-thought out questions? Is this lack of confidence usual for you, or is it related only to feeling marginalized in your relationship? And how much of that marginalization is self-imposed?
Good questions! Thanks for raising these points. I do have insecurity issues, but they stem from a lot of thingsómost recently from being in (and leaving) an unhealthy marriage. My relationship with A has actually done wonders for a lot of those insecurities. So youíre rightópretty much all of the marginalization that I feel is either self-imposed or the product of our emotions advancing at faster pace than our discussions about the nature and parameters of our relationship.

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Worrying about his relationship with his wife is his job, not yours. Sure, you should take it into consideration, as it's a very large part of his life, but if you spend more time focused on that than about your own relationship with him, then what's the point?
Thank you for laying this out for me so clearly. I think that is what A has been trying to convey to me, but he didnít want to be as direct about it. Youíre right. Thatís his job, not mine. Now that Iím thinking about it, my fears/concerns about Aís relationship with his wife stem from my friendsí judgments about this relationship. My best friend is trying to be supportive but canít understand how any of this is ok. At one point, I did arrive at the conclusion that A and his wife voluntarily and intentionally opened up their marriage before A even knew me, so any byproduct of that decision was theirs to discuss and address. All that really mattered to me was that I love A and love being in a relationship with him. But my friend said that my attitude made her sad and, without actually saying it, made me feel like Iím selfish and have the capacity to be a homewrecker. The thought of being that person horrifies me. And thatís why Iím now constantly worried about my effect on their relationship. But again, now that Iím thinking about it, I suppose thatís kind of ridiculous. I donít have the ability to wreck Aís marriageóhe loves his wife and is deeply committed to their relationship, and theyíre very open and communicative with each other.

Well, realizing all of these things and actually internalizing them are very different things. Weíll see how this goesÖ

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Originally Posted by FormerUnicorn View Post
I, for one am curious to hear what his wife says about meeting you.
From what Iíve been reading, it sounds like thereís general consensus that itís definitely a good idea for the partner and SO in a V to meet each other. But Iím nervous about bringing it up; Iím worried that it will come across as me trying to somehow insert myself into their relationship. Any advice as to how to approach this? Or could things be fine if we just donít meet?
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:57 AM
FormerUnicorn FormerUnicorn is offline
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I'm glad I could help you build some framework to look at your situation through.

Just be honest about your fears about meeting his wife. Ask him what he thinks about it, his expectations, what he would or would not like to see happen between the two of you in terms of building a relationship yourselves. Also be sure to ask some probing questions about his relationship with her girlfriend, and what sort of relationship his wife wants him to have with her girlfriend.

A lot of your fear could be taken away simply because you would know where he stands on these things. Of course MEETING her will still be scary, there's no denying that! But hopefully there will have been enough preparation to make the introduction easier for everyone involved.

Don't be afraid to use this place as a sounding board, or a place simply to collect your thoughts. I'm pretty new to this forum's community, but everything I've seen and read leads me to believe it's a very positive collection of people. Some of the stories are simply inspiring, and what I take away from every single one of them is that regardless of who you love, much of the journey is about self-discovery. And that excites me to no end.
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