Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Poly Relationships Corner


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-14-2012, 09:05 AM
Quietfever Quietfever is offline
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 20
Default Should I be a secondary while I am still single?

I am 38 and single and a lesbian. Right now I am in the "stray single" situation evaluating whether I would get involved with women who are married and polyamorous. I seem to click better with attached bi women than with other lesbians and the lesbian monogamy model has been utterly suffocating and dysfunctional to me. I almost feel like I'm poly at this point because of monogamy PTSD... just some seriously bad situations in monogamous relationships and I'm reluctant to ever be in one again.

To be true to myself: I would very much like to live with the right person and share my life with them, with the commitment between us and the option of being close to other people as well.

To be true to my circumstances: there are plenty of people available if I am willing to be a secondary *only*. It's like needing a full time job but only temporary and part time jobs are available. In one or two of these cases, I am willing and care for these people and would like to see where it goes.

The trouble is - I don't really feel very hopeful that I will find someone of my own, and when I think about the other women being happy at home with their husbands, I feel envious.

Not jealous - not in an emotional or sexual way - but envious about having a home, and security, and a love to live with, and feeling like this is going to be much, much harder for me to find first of all because I am 38 and secondly because I'm gay and thirdly because I am an odd person who's had difficulty living with others in the past, so I don't know if I'm even primary partner material anymore.


It just brings up these issues - wondering if I will ever achieve any of my dreams. Many of the things I want (due to costs and such) are not as possible on my own as they would be with a mate.

I am also afraid that I will never have someone in my life for whom I am first priority... I will always be the person who is there when hubby isn't around :/

Last edited by Quietfever; 08-14-2012 at 09:08 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2012, 12:51 PM
KyleKat KyleKat is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Central Illinois
Posts: 284

I would argue that the reason you're finding difficulty in the monogamy world is not because you're a lesbian and/or dating other lesbians, but because you aren't finding the right people. I don't know your personality (introvert? extrovert?) but it sounds like you're picking people you clash with.

To take a page from GG (and hopefully she'll correct me if I screw this up), there are quite a few different relationship dynamics even when it's just you and one other person.

You to You (yourself as part of a larger couple)
GF to GF (how they are as part of the larger couple)
You to GF
GF to You
You + GF (as a team)

First you need to figure out the You to You part. How do you act when you're in a relationship? Do you take the alpha spot and make decisions and plans and organize? Do you take a back seat? Do you prefer lots of contact? Lots of space? What makes it work for you? What don't you like?

With almost every relationship that fails, the major building block that's missing is communication. Do you effectively tell your significant others that you are feeling smothered? Do you tell them that you don't want to be that close all the time? How do you tell them? Do you yell it at them during a fight or sit them down and say, "I can't do this for you. I love you, but this makes me squeamish. I know it's not you, I know it's me, but we have to have a middle ground."

Stop worrying so much about if you have a house/car/white picket fence/a cat/a dog/flowers in your garden/stuff you can only have with a partner. You're putting way too much pressure on any future prospects. Like them for who they are, and if they become life-long significant other material, then you'll get what you wanted.

On to your other question: No, I do not think you should be a secondary without a primary. Not because I don't think that dynamic can't work (I'm sure it can), but you already answered how it will make you feel. Like someone that only gets attention when hubby isn't around.
"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is the regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable." - Sydney Smith

Kyle: 27 year old male
Katie (rymmare): 25 year old female
Kids: girl: 5 years old, boy: 3 years old
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2012, 07:08 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is online now
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 7,264

KyleKat lays it out tier wise if you are looking to be one on one with someone.
Like in a Closed Duo. Where you are each other's primary people.

You also sound like you want to be Open to other loves, but to maybe to start with you want to get the primary thing nailed.

I'd go seek it then, and nail it!

38 is hardly doddering. There's lots of people in late 30's and early 40's starting over with second chances. Why not you?

If you can handle a secondary relationship in the meanwhile and keep it secondary -- cool. You get some companionship while on the seeking journey and dating others. But if your personality is such to where you end up pining and wishing the secondary would... "primary-ify" and you hang around waiting and this is keeping you from the seeking... then better to be honest with yourself and just be alone while seeking without a secondary.

That's something only you can answer for yourself because you know you best.


Last edited by GalaGirl; 08-15-2012 at 02:59 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2012, 08:00 PM
CielDuMatin's Avatar
CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Upstate New York, USA
Posts: 1,467

Some great points brought up already.

Here's my take on this - ok, so your ideal is to be in a live-in arrangement with someone, and then have other lovers, but what you are asking here (as I understand it) is whether you should have secondary relationships while you are waiting for that person to come along.

Well, two points - first, if they are going to give you an increase in your happiness and help you learn more about yourself, then why not?

Second, since you self-identify as poly, presumably you would want to carry that on even after you have found a live-in mate - so that wouldn't necessarily mean calling an end to your secondary relationships, right? (Presumably these people aren't wanting you to be a secondary to them and have no other relationships - that's kind of unrealistic on their part, if you are not happy with that).

"Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf." - Native American Proverb
Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2012, 02:01 AM
Becca Becca is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 114

I spent some time in only secondary relationships. It gave me the benefits of being both single and in a relationship! I got to learn some solid life skills and self sufficiency, while still having companionship, connections, and sex.

But I had to be pretty committed to the idea of spending some time as single, first. Once I liked that pretty well, then I was able to adjust, and okay, explore some secondary relationships, without feeling too lonesome or unimportant. My primary was myself.

But if you don't like the idea of being single, then I don't recommend it. It did get a little lonesome sometimes, especially around the holidays.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2012, 03:19 AM
Quietfever Quietfever is offline
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 20

This all seems really sensible.

I guess what I'm wanting is to be part of a household - knowing my partner and I are really committed to each other, regardless of who else adds to our gestalt. I would not mind being part of a household. I want the "marriage/house/comfort/long term" kind of life that everyone else seemingly gets to have. I'm open to considering being "someone's other spouse" as long as I get to be a spouse at some point in my life!

There may be some inherent imbalance here because I'm lesbian, though, not bi.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2012, 06:33 PM
Ttree Ttree is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 25

I can really relate on the "bad experiences with monogamy" part. At that point, being in a poly relationship really gave me strength and a greater realisation of who I was, because of the amazing people I was with.
There is nothing wrong with being poly just because you feel like you can't handle monogamy. Everybody is different. I'm currently not sure whether I am truly mono or poly, but I have decided not to date anyone who will try to limit whom I can love, and so my current bf is open to me being poly and does not try to interfere in any way provided I am honest about everything. I may discover, if I am comfortable enough with him (or someone else in a future relationship) that one person, or "the one" is the only person I want to be with and become happily monogamous, but you shouldn't try to force yourself to conform, especially from a point of non-acceptance from another person. That does not work, it only breeds resentment/anxiety on your side and encourages whatever hang-ups and fears they have to be the controlling force in how much you can be yourself in a relationship.

From now on, anyone I date has to know that I am poly (regardless of whether I will personally feel a need to date anyone else while dating them) and that this is me. No cowboys! Do not settle for any situation (mono or poly) where you feel controlled and limited by your partner and especially if you feel you are not free to be who you truly are. If it is something that keeps bugging you and you have to keep trying to resolve how you feel, maybe that is a sign that it is something truly important to you. I recently got out of a very loving relationship because of the mono-poly thing and it still hurts, and I love him very much, but I cannot be someone I am not, or be made to be fully dependent on someone who does not meet the full scope of who I am in my personality. For me it seems much healthier to appreciate him for who he is and also be with someone else who understands that aspect of me, making me much less dependent, stronger and more able to give, and able to address the different aspects of my personality without placing unreasonable demands on my partner to be everything, always, or for me to try to conform to be only as needy as one partner will allow.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2012, 06:16 PM
RfromRMC's Avatar
RfromRMC RfromRMC is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina
Posts: 239

Originally Posted by Quietfever View Post
I am 38 and single and a lesbian. Right now I am in the "stray single" situation evaluating whether I would get involved with women who are married and polyamorous. I seem to click better with attached bi women than with other lesbians and the lesbian monogamy model has been utterly suffocating and dysfunctional to me.
Almost sounds like you're the lesbian version of me in a roundabout way.

I'm 35 single gay male. I also click better and enjoy the company of my straight/bi poly friends way more than I do the monogamy-minded (ie, heteronormative) gay men that seem to make a huge proportion of my local gay community.

Would I be the secondary to a bi man with a female primary partner (or spouse)? Assuming it's a guy I'm really into and is really into me, then---Hell Yeah!!

For me, I'd rather be single and someone's secondary than single and alone!

And I can't see any reason why being someone else's secondary would hinder my ability to find a primary.

Though to be fair, I don't really like the whole primary/secondary hierarchy and to my mind, everyone is just "Boyfriends", period. Eventually would like one to be a domestic partner perhaps, so that's probably the equivalent to "primary" for most poly people's vocabulary. *shrug*
Just Rob now. That's all. .

In North Carolina? Check out: facebook.com/ncPoly
In Raleigh/Durham? Check out www.meetup.com/TrianglePolyamory
Reply With Quote

fulfillment, self-esteem

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 10:39 PM.