What is Polyamory? It is ethical non-monogamy.
There’s a lot of soap box preaching of evolved, open relationships; Dan Savage disciples bellowing the benefits of such relationships, how they actually save marriages in allowing the couple to explore outside when the marriage grows stagnant and stale (some would say comfortable), avoiding cheating and deceit, keeping the family whole, false boosts to confidence when others want to have sex with them.
What is a Secondary? Basically it means that you are and always will be Second to the Primary partner in the relationship. I believe it to be derogatory. It’s a hierarchical standard designed as a control measure. It is a statement that you will always be LESS THAN anyone else, a toy at best. My Love told me often that that term couldn’t possibly describe what I meant to him, how much he loved me, how important I was in his life.
I was a Secondary for four years.
I never felt insecure in the love my ex Love had for me. At one time, it was real. It was returned. But my biggest lesson in the end is that there is no security.
I was new to this lifestyle. I had a million questions and my Love answered them all honestly. I trusted him. We spoke at length about his tenure in the lifestyle, more swinging than poly but both he and his partner had experience loving others outside their relationship. He reassured me. I met her and she reassured and welcomed me with open arms. She claimed compersion, being happy because her partner was happy.
We fell head over heals in love. We made mistakes. We all experienced emotions, sometimes valid, often irrational. We all messed up in our own way. I was inexperienced but I followed his lead and perhaps overstepped formerly nonsexistent boundaries, mainly as a result of our “NRE” (New Relationship Energy).
She hurt because she wasn’t prepared for him to feel for me as he did.
He hurt because she hurt and he felt guilty hurting her without intention.
Hence, I had to hurt.
All three who messed up yet only one left in the dust, only casualty being the Secondary. All the great love that was meant to be shared was revoked.
As hearts start struggling, we are cast out to drown in a sea of hypocrisy, double standards and revisionist history. We become the blame for the flaws in the primary relationship. It’s not reality but too often it’s the easiest solution. We are expected to vanish quietly like we never existed, broken hearted, worthless mistresses while we listen to our ex Love casting blame on us for the downfall or patronizing that they were leaving us for our own good.
Self-advocation is deemed hostile and demanding. The slightest expectation becomes a smothering unwelcome demand.
We are accused of being cowgirls who want to “steal” the poly man which, in my case, was far from the truth. I had no intention of having another traditional relationship. After a 25 year relationship, my freedom was far too valuable. It still is, my children being be my first priority. We are blamed for the demise of the V, and we are deemed as shipwrecks who are left behind because the hinge couldn’t meet our ever demanding needs and expectations. A regular date became too much to request or a goodnight text became invasive; my time drastically reduced and his communication virtually nonexistent. My limited time wasn’t limited enough. I struggled being demoted to a FWB status to appease his partner. I was dehumanized in the worst way.
My ex-Love would say that polyamory doesn’t work; it is unfeasible to try to maintain more than one relationship, that casual sex and friendship is the only solution. He has renewed his interest in swinging and now he’s saturated with lovers. He says he’s happier without me and the drama at home that surrounded our relationship, yet sometimes he misses me. He replaced me with a Tinder obsession and saturated with several new lovers and regular STD testing versus the clean, safe environment we shared. She was so damaged yet already so secure again. Yet he expected that I wait for him. He didn’t know how long or what would happen in between, but he didn’t want to say goodbye to me forever. He hoped to shelve me until he could get back to me again when she calmed down. Then he ‘friend-zoned’ me because she forbid him to show affection for me again.
It’s like a death by 1000 paper cuts. The longest breakup in history. He resents her ’emotional terrorism,’ yet he chants her agenda and revisionist history like a brainwashed POW.
But our love was once valid. As was our friendship and I prayed that his partner would have realized that I was never a threat to her and that as he once believed, his heavily weighted time with her and his commitment to her far surpassed any single date night he shared with me a few times a month.
I would tell you that you will know no greater love and no greater passion than this, but you will also know no greater heartbreak when it all falls apart. There’s a life span on such relationships. You expire and are tossed aside like rotten meat. Failing that, rare is the person that wants to be a mono or solo Secondary forever. It is not only hurtful but damaging. Isolating. You will never get the support you need, because you are Secondary. Sloppy seconds.
I wish anyone who goes down this path lots of luck. If asked if I would do it all again, the answer is a clear, resounding NO. It doesn’t matter how secure and tenured these relationships you enter are. The only thing that’s certain is that if the Primary at any time changes their mind, if jealousy and insecurity sets in, the only casualty is the Secondary. There is no security ever. Don’t kid yourself. My Love tried so hard to appease us both, but there was no negotiation. I had to be discarded to make things civil at home.
The most ironic thing in this: being accused haphazardly by my ex lover and his partner that the biggest issue was that I was monogamous is that I can do poly better than either of them. I’ve learned that I can love more than one. I’ve learned that I can have sex with multiple partners and not have it affect the others. I’ve learned that I can be respectful to each partner and make them feel treasured and special and not less than another. I know that each partner deserves respect as a human and that it doesn’t work to make one person feel less so the other feels more. It’s inhuman. The members of this forum call it Solo Poly but, to me, it’s good, old fashioned dating. That way NOBODY is confused with expectations.
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- Erica Jagger’s Primer For Hot, Ethical, Casual Sex