ZAPoly Discussion Topic : Being a poly secondary

There are many forms of polyamory - one of them is called hierarchical polyamory. Hierarchical polyamory is further divided into prescriptive and descriptive hierarchy. People who practise hierarchical polyamory have primary and secondary partners. Why would you want to be a secondary partner?

Secondary Relationships are close relationship types; by definition they are given less in terms of time, energy and priority in a person's life than any primary relationship. Includes aspects of primary relating, such as sexuality and emotional support but usually involves fewer ongoing commitments as evidenced by fewer shared values, plans or financial/legal involvements. May include a desire for a long-term future together. Being a secondary does not say anything about how much one is loved.

One person's experience of being a secondary:

“As far as being a secondary - the fact that we're a LDR changes the dynamic a bit. There isn't much in the way of pressure regarding your time, and when we are together things are great as D has been wonderful with everything. I think your partner's SO, and how they involve themselves and to what extent in how things run, is tantamount to a successful relationship from the secondary's POV. (When I say 'involve' themselves, I meaning more in line with their projecting of their influence more than a direct involvement).

Clarity has been a very big help for me as far as being a secondary is concerned. I'm made well aware of what is what, how things work ... I guess communication is the underpinning key to everything, and it works here. Jealousy would be a big issue, however I've now learnt that it's caused by other reasons - once these were discussed, then it's easier to deal.”

The good

If you're in a ldr, being a secondary works out quite nicely. There isn't much in the way of pressure regarding time. When you visit, you get lots of attention.
If you already have some sort of primary level commitment (a demanding job, a postgraduate degree, small children, a primary) then you might not have time for another primary level commitment
The relationship is successful as it is but the people involved have reason to believe it might not be at a primary level

The bad

If you're a secondary and you want to be a primary _now_... this is a bad situation.
If you're a secondary and you want to be a primary in this relationship eventually but your partner doesn't want that ... this is a bad situation.
If your partner’s primary just tolerates you.
Couple privilege exists and can be damaging.

Useful URLs

Useful Book chapter
The Polyamory Handbook: A User's Guide by Peter J. Benson, Section 2.10 and Section 2.11

-- South African Polyamory

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