I’ve been polyamorous for a decent amount of time now. I love your blog and your books. Thank you for all the time you put into them. I wanted to write to you because I feel like you won’t judge me (something I can’t say for every poly expert out there).
I’m in a lot of online polyamory groups, and I keep seeing people who are anti-hierarchy, just in general.
I totally get why people don’t like toxic hierarchy situations, stuff like what’s in your takebacksies and Tom-tom letters. But I’m wondering if you have encountered situations where people are actually happy being in secondary relationships?
Right now I’m in a relationship with a woman where I suppose you could say that I’m secondary to her wife and she’s also probably secondary to my husband. But we don’t really even use those labels, unless someone asks or we need to describe things (B T dubs, loved the piece on descriptive hierarchy and prescriptive, inc). And everyone’s happy.
Is that so wrong? We’re happy being secondaries. Is that weird?
This is actually a really easy letter to answer. But one I’m happy to have the opportunity to address on this blog.
Yes, I’ve encountered situations where people are actually happy being in a secondary relationship. Or at least a lower-entanglement one. Sometimes it makes sense.
Maybe you and another person don’t have the bandwidth to be super serious because you both have a lot going on. This one happens to me fairly often since I tend to be attracted to interesting people. And interesting people typically are very busy.
Or maybe you’re compatible in some aspects and not others. So seeing each other less frequently is the way to go, the way that works best for your relationship.
Or any other number of reasons.
I see it all the time. Relationships where people are mutually “secondary.” Hell, I’ve been there.
I think what’s hard is when one person wants to be more entangled than the other (for whatever reason, maybe one person is dating more or has more free time, etc.). I don’t think it’s the low-entanglement (or colloquially, secondary) status that necessarily causes problems. What’s more difficult is an imbalance between what the involved parties want.
And it sounds like you’re not weaponizing the secondary label to remind someone to “stay in their place” or “not do anything to threaten the primary bond.” I mean, it sounds like you’re not even using that label at all, from your letter. At least not in any instrumental/meaningful way.
I think forcing relationships to be more entangled or time-intensive than they naturally want to be out of some perceived burden to be “fair” when it’s not what really anyone wants would be the greater sin.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you can have a very deep emotional connection without being entangled logistically. Depth of your emotions and the entanglement of your relationship are very different things, even if not everyone understands that.
I say if you’re both happy, then you’re both happy. Screw what forum randos would think. Good for you. Seriously.
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