The Challenges of Being a Secondary – Conscious Polyamory: A blog about loving more than one
Recently a poly friend observed, "There are no secondary people. If you are in a non-primary relationship — and especially if you also have a. Primary and secondary (and occasionally tertiary) are words used by some polyamorists to distinguish between different degrees of relationship and to describe. Being a secondary also means that the relationship can focus on want to give their partner inferior status sometimes use the term co-primary.
People who do not want to give their partner inferior status sometimes use the term co-primary. But on a basic level, a secondary is someone who enters a relationship with the mutual partner after the primary. So from now on, I am going to call this person, the second, or 2. I am not able to enjoy everyday life with my partner, such as going grocery shopping, cooking dinner together, or waking up together every morning.
I am not able to see my partner or talk to him anytime I want because his availability is constrained by obligations to his spouse. If my partner comes back from a long trip, or has important news to share, his spouse and children will be the first to hear it. If my partner decides to have another lover, I will have to sacrifice my time with him, and not his spouse.
If I want to talk to my partner while he is spending time with his family, our conversation will be put on hold until his family decides that they no longer need him. My partner can easily end our relationship, whereas he cannot easily end his relationship with his spouse. If my relationship with my partner no longer pleases his spouse, she has the ability to make it more difficult for us to continue our relationship.
While I am alone when I am not with my partner, my partner is not alone without me.
The Challenges of Being a Secondary
You should not expect or require them to become friends or lovers. That said, you can and should support their connection by introducing them in person, if possible and perhaps suggesting get-togethers or other opportunities for them to get to know each other as people, not roles. Also, making sure they know how to contact each other directly can be helpful and reassuring. Give them room to sort things out on their own and build mutual trust through experience.
Also, one person noted: Invite non-primary partners into negotiations and decisions that affect them. This is a very touchy point for many primary couples since it involves surrendering a key aspect of couple privilege: Still, the vast majority of non-primary partners who contributed to this post indicated that they do indeed want or even require to be included in decisions that affect the conduct or continued existence of their relationship.
The key seems to be: Ask your non-primary partner how they prefer to be involved in decisionmaking about that relationship.
Invite them into the process up front ideally well before significant emotional investment or conflicts happenand honor their preference.
Non-primary partners deserve to know the main potential risks as well as rewards of getting involved with you.
This is rarely pleasant news to give or receive. However, revealing this rule up front is far more respectful and less painful than discovering it during a hard, vulnerable moment — or implying that even though it exists, you would never really use it. Fail-safes and kill switches always exist for a reason. This should happen before before seeking new partners — and check in about it again before starting any new relationship, or periodically.
Be prepared for the possibility that some adjustments to your boundaries and renegotiations with your primary may be necessary. Fully disclose your constraints, agreements and boundaries. Volunteer up front or at least when a relationship progresses beyond casual all information that would help a non-primary partner understand how they might fit into your world, what they can reasonably expect from you, and what room your relationship might have to grow.
Often there are multiple ways to achieve relationship goals, and intent can make all the difference in whether a given constraint is something a non-primary partner is or is not willing to accommodate, whether there might be other options, and whether that constraint might change over time.
Expect to be surprised by your emotional reactions Reader Chris Little Sun observed in a comment to this post: Some boundaries we discover only when we trip over them; other boundaries we think we see ahead prove to be mirages. The first key to negotiating these bumps is to accept that they absolutely WILL happen. Also, every person brings something new to the mix, which means there will always be unexpected issues unique to any relationship — even if you have lots of experience with non-primary or other nonstandard relationships.
Perceptions of primary and secondary relationships in polyamory
As your relationships survive bumps or crash on thembe sure to revisit and update your needs and boundaries — and communicate these revisions clearly to your current and prospective partners. Trust what your non-primary partner says about their relationship goals. Such thinking usually is an artifact of monogamous competitive presumptions which are rooted in scarcity models and automatic overvaluing of primary couplehood.
Even if primary couples know of or have experienced some solo people eventually wanting something from a relationship that a primary couple cannot offer, there is a confirmation bias: Also, choosing to only have non-primary relationships with people who already are in a primary relationship of their own will not necessarily protect you from someone eventually wanting more than you can give, or trying to usurp your role.
Anyone at all — even a married person — is capable of such behavior. Speak up about fairness toward non-primary partners. When it becomes uncool for people to speak or act in biased ways, that behavior decreases. Individual, everyday statements and walking the talk of fairness in your own relationships are what helps make this kind of shift happen.
If you have the courage for that, kudos to you! You get out of it what you put into it. This is how you learn how to adapt and grow in relationships — because your existing relationship will indeed change.
Typically, such measures only create more problems. Give yourself and your partners some time to try to expand your comfort zones and collaboratively find solutions. When you make agreements with non-primary partners, they are as important as those you might make with a primary partner. Lying to, cheating on, or otherwise dishonoring agreements with a non-primary partner is as reprehensible as with a spouse. So make agreements carefully, and revisit them as needed.
Intimate relationships are a huge exception to the common trope: Often this arises around people in a non-primary relationship wanting to have unprotected sex, or perform certain intimacies around which there are existing boundaries or agreements.
Non-primary partners tell: How to treat us well | SoloPoly
Non-primary partners understand that our relationship with you is not primary, and not on track to become primary someday — and the vast majority of us like it that way! We also have our own lives, and often other partners. The best way to treat us fairly is to ask us what we want and need, what matters to us, and try your best to honor that.