Loving More Than One

Polyamory as it relates to my life and written from my perspective only. MY thoughts, feelings and opinions.

What Do You Believe Regarding Hierarchial Polyamory?

on April 27, 2010

What is a primary relationship?

One that always comes first? A relationship that you will always choose over any other?

What makes a relationship a primary relationship?

The depth of love involved? Past experiences with a partner? Financial obligations? Or a combination of things?

Is it truly possible to have equal relationships with more than one person?

While I may not be able to answer all those questions I will attempt as many as possible. This is something that has been brought up in a few arenas lately and has been something I’ve been thinking over. All opinions are mine and can change if I find an aspect I didn’t consider originally to have an affect on my opinion.

I believe that a primary relationship is one that for a variety of reasons will always come first. I do not believe that a primary relationship is exclusive of loving more than one person to the same depth. I don’t believe that a primary relationship means each partner is of different importances.

I believe that a relationship will be/can be primary for reasons other than emotions. I believe that past experiences can relegate a relationship to primary.I believe that financial obligations can do the same. For example, in my life, Dirk would be a primary relationship. I have been through so many bonding experiences within our 28 years together. We were engaged before we graduated high school so, we grew up together. We have 2 children together and we lost a baby together. We’ve supported each other through some life changing decisions. We have a mortgage together. We even, at the moment, are struggling financially together.

Compare that to what I’ve been through with Chane. We’ve been together 3 1/2 years. We were well into our adult years when we met. We will not have children together and had basically raised the children we have with our spouses before we met so, we do not have to ensure we work through our child-rearing beliefs to reach compromises. We have been through a few life changing decisions. Our finances are not combined in any way.

So, to an extent, I would consider my relationship with Dirk to be a primary one. He considers it so and wants it to be so. All of this therefore ensures that I do treat it as primary.

Why wouldn’t I consider one primary over the other? Well, because I love them both so much. If I had the freedom for my relationship with Chane to reach its full potential, I believe there wouldn’t really be a way to differentiate between how I felt about them. Any reserve I have in allowing my feelings full reign for Chane are due to limitations in our relationship and my attempt at finding a way to live with those.

If I shared financial obligations with them both it would also be harder to consider one relationship as more important than the other. That’s a huge thing to consider. Sharing financial obligations requires trust. Trusting someone that much is a commitment of sorts.

I have trouble putting one of their needs over the other. Well, normal every day needs. Not needs that are born from a crisis or something along those lines. There are just times that one or the other needs me the most.

I often wonder how we fit into primary and secondary roles when I’m called upon to state my opinion of what we have. Labels help clarify things for generalities but can be limiting as well. Due to the fact that part of our quad is only comfortable with primary and secondary relationships, I really can see things from both sides of that coin if needed. I see how secondaries can feel about the limits of that relationship type and I can see how primaries can find it frightening to consider someone else is just as important. Particularly when a long established relationship is involved.

When I changed my mindset from monogamous to polyamorous I feel I completely changed it. For me that was a necessity to fully be able to deal with some things. Therefore, I believe that each relationship should be able to reach its full potential without limitations. That may mean it never gets past a “secondary” role or that could mean it becomes equal to the “primary” role. The most important thing is allowing each relationship to go where it will. To not place limitations on relationships. To treat each other with respect while allowing full relationship growth.

While I don’t expect my relationship with Chane to be equal to his primary relationship with Arwen, I do expect equal say in MY relationship WITH him. I expect to not be told where my relationship with him can and can’t go. I do not always get this. And truthfully, if I were entering a new relationship with the knowledge I now have from mistakes and all, I would insist on this. This would probably be a deal breaker for me.

I’d like to hear your opinions on the topic.

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4 responses to “What Do You Believe Regarding Hierarchial Polyamory?

  1. Marco says:

    The issue of primary vs secondary came up often in our quad. Not with those terms/labels used, as we didn’t even know the vocabulary of the Polyamorous lifestyle at the time….but the issue of comparing relationships came up quite often. There was a time when I announced that I viewed Joanne and Jasmine as equals. My wife didn’t seem to mind. But that statement didn’t sit tool well with Ramon. It bothered him actually.

    I admit that once I opened up to Polyamory I started sprinting with it. Too fast for comfort I suppose. Eventually my ‘Cloud Nine’ mentality got burst and I came to a more rationale way seeing things. And now, to be honest, I think no matter how long I’m with Joanne, I will always place my wife above her. She will forever hold the primary spot for many of the same reasons you just mentioned; our time together, our kids, our joint finances, mortgage, etc.

    Let’s say that one day the whole thing came crashing down beyond all repair. No more quad. That’s it. I seriously doubt there would be any debate as to who would end up with who. As heartbroken as we all would be over losing our other lover, the reality is that my wife and I would continue living our lives without them and they would do the same. So, just that thought alone places the role of primaries and secondaries into perspective for us all.

    I’m sure others may think differently, but that’s how I see it.

    • Marco says:

      * Typo *
      “But that statement didn’t sit too well …..”
      not tool.

    • oneof4 says:

      Yes, I do believe we may find that you and I are somewhat alike and could agree on many things.

      I do love Chane and I know that he and I could be more to each other. There are unspoken limitations on our relationship. Arwen denies that she imposes any but the other three of us do see that she does. Actually, she holds most of the power in our quad. She is very passive aggressive and the guys let her get away with that far more than I am comfortable with.

      If our relationship could grow to it’s full potential it would be very close to a primary one as well. But, there is always the things Dirk and I have been through. The actual years with the struggles and growth do count for so much. And if Dirk and I were to ever split up, it wouldn’t be because of poly. Not at the bottom of it. If that were to be the case, we wouldn’t be together now.

      It would break my heart to lose Chane, like you said of Joanne and Ramon, but I could live with it. Dirk and I would make it. But after all that I have been through on this poly road, I know that I could live with things I never thought possible. I’d make it if it were just me as well.

      As much as I hate those labels, the truth is that, when a long term relationship is involved….a successful one that is, it really is difficult for it not to be primary. Now, if I had met them both close to the same time, it would most likely be a different story.

      It’s a shame you live so far away. I’d love to sit down and talk with you.

  2. Marco says:

    Yeah, bummer. It would be great to converse with you on the many aspects of this whole lifestyle. Our paths toward it are strikingly similar. So many examples actually, down to your grievances with Arwen.

    “Actually, she holds most of the power in our quad.” Do you know that sentence has been said almost exactly word for word about our Joanne. I haven’t even gotten to the details leading up to the frustration that eventually boiled over into the ‘cat-fight’ between the women. Lol. It’s funny. OK, not really…..but still, I gotta laugh.

    It would great to exchange stories over some drinks. I’m sure we’d laugh plenty.

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