Secondary Poly

September 5th, 2013

Still not feeling well, so this may or may not make any sense. Today’s topic: poly. More specifically: strange ramblings from the secondary point of view.

Part One. Someone started a thread over on FL with this quote: “Primary partners usually have an expectation of permanency that is a foundation of talking about the future. They also have an expectation that they are the only people who will have any input in those plans.”

Now, how you set up your poly relationships is completely up to the people within those relationships. Some people go for casual secondary, or unlabeled hierarchies. Often primary relationships do tend to be more permanent than secondary ones. However, one look at the divorce rate in this country will tell you, intentions aside, relationships of any type aren’t always permanent. And people’s expectations vary. Hopefully, however, you have communicated those expectations clearly with any and all of your partners.

Me? I am a secondary partner to him, but I have an expectation of permanency. That expectation includes talking about the future. Now, it does not include me being part of his marriage decisions (house, kids, etc), but it does include me in hearing about those discussions, sometimes contributing to those discussions, and certainly being supportive of those decisions. We also have discussions about the future where all parties have input into making the decisions. The future is something we all intend to be part of, why would I not matter in those plans?

Part Two. Someone started another thread with: “Do you listen to your partner complain about their primary’s jealous, how much do you listen?”

I have a problem with the basis of this question. Do you listen to your partner? Dear gods, I hope so. Regardless of the topic, listening is part of the all-important communication upon which good relationships are based. Please, tell me you listen to your partner, as much as they need you to listen.

Second part of the question, listening to them complain about another partner’s jealousy. One hopes, that this discussion is being had with the intent of finding resolutions and solutions. Hearing about the problems makes you aware that they exist and can enlist you in the problem solving process. Another partner’s jealousy matters, not that you have to fix it yourself, but finding solutions can be a group process, if needed. Thinking everything is fine can lead to more problems than knowing there is a problem, so long as the problem is being worked on.

Third part is the word “complaining.” Let’s say the asker of the initial question meant something else. Let’s say they meant, how much do you let your partner dump on you about the other person. This is a different problem entirely. Getting only negative views about a metamore can be extremely damaging to your relationship with them. It can also damage the relationship with your partner, if all they do is complain to you about the other. It could leave you wondering if they do the same about you with that other person. There is nothing wrong with letting off steam, and being supportive of your partner, but try not to let yourself become a dumping ground of their negativity.

Part Three. When the structure doesn’t match the feeling. “Sometimes, someone is offering a specific relationship structure because it is in tune with how they feel about you. Sometimes, it is all they can offer, no matter how they feel about you.”

This was actually a discussion that I liked the basis of. Poly, aside from communication, is all about time and resource management. (Yeah, yeah, poly is about love, but I mean on the practical side.) It is true that love is not a limited resource, but many other things are. Days of the week, time at an event, space in a bed, money in the bank, energy in a person(we all do need sleep). So, it is important to remember that just because someone loves you, doesn’t mean they can give you everything you want, or even everything they want to give you. If you love and trust them, believe they are doing the best they are able, and giving you everything they can.


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