Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > General Poly Discussions

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-24-2010, 03:20 AM
booklady78 booklady78 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 145
Default When someone doesn't want to be "primary"

I was looking through the primary/secondary threads, finding all the discussions very interesting but they didn't have quite the information I need.

I really don't like the labels of "primary" and "secondary", but I need to use them to explain.

The reason I dislike the labels is because in relation to my feelings about my husband and boyfriend, I view them both as "primary". I don't love one more than the other, I simply love them both. Neither one has given me cause to choose between them or put one's needs ahead of the other.

However, I'm facing a difficult situation. My bf is monogamous, I'm his only partner. We've been dating for a year and half. Based on some of our conversations and some of his recent actions, I don't think he's comfortable being considered as a "primary". It's not that he wants to date other people, its that doesn't seem to want the responsibility of being my partner. It's a long story, but to summarize, I was super stressed and asked for an hour of his time to help me with something at work but he refused with one of the reasons being that it "wasn't his responsibility". He's also reluctant to affirm his feelings for me because he's "been burned before" and is also dealing with depression.

I'm at a loss at how to proceed from here. I don't think I can "turn down" how I feel, but I can't help but think my love for him is perceived as some kind of pressure. He seems to want a "friend with benefits" rather than a partner. He's made some very big steps as far as moving into the basement suite below us but I don't believe he wants anything more than a friend he cares about and enjoys spending time with.

As with many of my posts, I know this is going to spur me into a conversation with him. I know that talking about what each of us wants in life and in our relationship is important. I'm just scared. Scared that I've let myself fall head over heels in love with someone who just doesn't want what I want. I'm trying to get straight in my head what it is that I want. I feel terribly naive to believe that when you love someone, it's natural to make a place for them in your life. I want him in my life and I'm wondering what place I have in his.

I don't even know quite what I'm asking, oh wise forum folks
Perhaps this is just a vent to get my head straight. Or perhaps there's a mono person out there who has some insight into being placed in a "primary" role that you weren't comfortable with.
__________________
"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." - Ray Bradbury
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 12-24-2010, 03:55 AM
SNeacail's Avatar
SNeacail SNeacail is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Near Disneyland
Posts: 1,571
Default

Personally I don't think the terms "primary" and "secondary" are a reflection of who you love more, but more about the resposibilities they are either willing, capable or allowed to take on. I can't get my head around calling a b/f that isn't contributing money, labor, child care, etc to your everyday living a primary. This is not necessarily either a good or bad thing, it just is.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-24-2010, 04:59 AM
Somegeezer's Avatar
Somegeezer Somegeezer is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Leeds, UK
Posts: 805
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post
Personally I don't think the terms "primary" and "secondary" are a reflection of who you love more, but more about the resposibilities they are either willing, capable or allowed to take on. <snip>
+1
I think this guy sounds like a secondary anyway. He doesn't seem to want as much responsibility as being a primary would mean. Maybe he is scared that he'll put the effort in for nothing. I'm not sure what advice to give on helping him through that, but I'm sure someone else could chime in with something.

As it is right now, I'd say let the relationship just flow without any labels. Let him come into it at his own pace and don't push him into what he isn't comfortable with. Sit down and communicate with him often and see where he is at with things. See if there is any way you can help. Be prepared for him to always be a secondary. He may just never be comfortable with that responsibility. It shouldn't mean you love him any less.
__________________
[Insert witty comment here]
Feel free to add me up on facebook. - Just click here.
Do send a message in your request saying who you are and that you're from this forum. It will help me filter out any spam requests.
=]
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-24-2010, 05:11 AM
dragonflysky dragonflysky is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 211
Default

As someone who has struggled with depression at various times in my life. I know there were times I just didn't have it in me to be deeply involved with someone else's wants and needs. It may be that there's only so much of him to go around due to the depression and it may not be enough to take on a more involved "primary" role. This doesn't necessarily discount his love for you. Depression can suck the energy and good feelings right out of you and shut you right down. It can affect your sleep patterns...too much or too little...which doesn't help either.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-24-2010, 06:37 AM
booklady78 booklady78 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 145
Default

I sometimes forget to take his depression into account. I haven't really seen him "down" as the medication he takes seems to do be doing it's job. I do understand that this can be a tough time of year for him and I hope that I can support him through ups & downs. I've been reading alot about depression, trying to understand what he needs and what, if anything, I can do.
I feel so inexperienced when it comes to much of this, I've only got the relationship I have with my husband to compare. And I can't really compare very much as each of my relationships with them is unique.

I think after the stress of the holidays winds down, I would like to find out what some of my bf's aspirations\plans are. Perhaps we have some common goals that we can help each other with
__________________
"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." - Ray Bradbury
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-24-2010, 08:49 AM
redpepper's Avatar
redpepper redpepper is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 7,634
Default

Finding common goals is really important. Good idea to find out what he is thinking of doing with his future if anything. Perhaps it could be a goal to come into a feeling of being more primary for him, or a goal to remain healthy so he can take a more active role in your life. 1 and a half years is not long. Perhaps you haven't seen the full force of his illness.

Mono doesn't subscribe to the primary role either. He has never told me he doesn't think something isn't his job because of it but he would not feel comfortable with many of the responsiblities that he deems come out of being married to someone. He steps back. I don't mind, but it doesn't change the fact that he is just as important to me as PN. *Meh* if it makes him happy... I know my investment and he knows his and I have to trust his choice to stay or I would go crazy.

I think a lot of your bf's feelings come from a fear of his depression. I wonder if he is terrified of hurting you because he may be distant one day because of it. Maybe you are a good fit for him because he knows you have someone else in your life that can take care of your needs if he is sick. Maybe he feels safe knowing you will take care of him if he ever gets really sick again. Really that is a huge amount of trust he has put on you. That has to mean something to you no? I'd say that is huge amounts of love and respect for you if I am right.
__________________
Anyone want to be friends on Facebook?
Send me your name via PM
My blog
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-24-2010, 09:19 AM
MonoVCPHG's Avatar
MonoVCPHG MonoVCPHG is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: In Redpepper's heart
Posts: 4,742
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by booklady78 View Post
Or perhaps there's a mono person out there who has some insight into being placed in a "primary" role that you weren't comfortable with.
Hey, speaking of a mono guy

I can relate to your boyfriend not wanting to be a primary. I don't think things are necessarily not my responsibility because of it though. I do things for the people I love; that's not a responsibility, it's just a way of taking care of those I care about.

I also don't see myself as a primary, but let me explain. It's not that I love Redpepper any less or am any less committed to her than PN. In dealing with the mono/poly thing not thinking about yourself as primary can be helpful for the mono...at least in my case it is. For some unknown reason it helps short circuit the mono desire to have loved returned in the same way we give it...with intimate exclusivity (not all monos...but a lot of them). This desire is often portrayed as possessiveness by those who don't want exclusivity and sometimes that assessment is right, other times it is not.

Considering ourselves as an addition to a core relationship as opposed to being the core relationship sometimes overrides the natural tendency to want or expect exclusivity. Perhaps if your boyfriend offers words of his commitment or acknowledges loving you, then he doesn't think he will be able to share you. He might be doing what he can to protect the connection you have but it is coming across as indifference to the level of emotion you both have.

Now, that being said, he could be using the "I'm just a boyfriend/fwb" to avoid the routine stuff of life such as helping in areas he is not really interested. I would definitely pin that down.
__________________

Playing the Game of Life with Monopoly rules.
Monogamy might just be in my genes

Poly Events All Over
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-24-2010, 09:20 AM
MonoVCPHG's Avatar
MonoVCPHG MonoVCPHG is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: In Redpepper's heart
Posts: 4,742
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by redpepper View Post
I have to trust his choice to stay or I would go crazy.
You can trust I will make you go crazy with love !!!!
__________________

Playing the Game of Life with Monopoly rules.
Monogamy might just be in my genes

Poly Events All Over
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-24-2010, 04:08 PM
dragonflysky dragonflysky is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 211
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by booklady78 View Post
I sometimes forget to take his depression into account. I haven't really seen him "down" as the medication he takes seems to do be doing it's job. I do understand that this can be a tough time of year for him and I hope that I can support him through ups & downs. I've been reading alot about depression, trying to understand what he needs and what, if anything, I can do......
I take anti-depressant medication daily and few people would ever realize I struggle with depression in my life. In fact, most see me as pretty happy and calm. But, I know that I have limits. My energy "reserves" are minimal. They don't see me on the days when I come home from work and crash with fatigue and emotional depletion. I've had to learn to prioritize things in my life in terms of "essentials" that must get done and what can be let go and for how long (indefinitely in some cases!). I've also struggled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the past which also involved learning to pace myself so I can function on a day to day basis.

It might be helpful for you to have a discussion with you bf about the details of his depression. I have learned what to look for in myself when my depression is increasing, e.g., modified sleep pattern, ongoing fatigue, etc. That's assuming he's willing to discuss it with you. I find most people reluctant to talk about anything related to "mental health" seeing it as a character flaw rather than the brain chemical imbalance it is for many people (which it is in my case.)

Having said that.....I still wouldn't say something "wasn't my responsibility" related to my depression. Although I might say I couldn't make something...or have something...be my responsibility because of the limits on me due to depression.

Last edited by dragonflysky; 12-24-2010 at 04:17 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-24-2010, 04:34 PM
redpepper's Avatar
redpepper redpepper is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 7,634
Default

Good points dragon. People do are thru depression, and other mental illnesses as a flaw. Maybe that has something to do with it. Really its a part of who he is and he's lovable for it.
__________________
Anyone want to be friends on Facebook?
Send me your name via PM
My blog
Reply With Quote
Reply

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 01:25 AM.