Q: Do you think the nature of the secondary relationship is unfair/is PC yours?
A: I feel that it was pure luck that I met PC, and though I cannot recall the conversations we had about Poly, I think on some level he understood what it meant: I think the fact that he is still around says something but I have no need to ascribe him a role in my life in such terms. I am of the opinion that not everyone need be Poly like me to benefit from this arrangement and though D, my husband, and PC have different roles in my life to call PC a secondary feels as though I would be diminishing his place within my life; however I understand the use of term. So maybe? Yeah, I guess so? Can I call him that without asking or do I have to get him like a secondary bracelet of something?
You are going to find many different definitions in any given Poly marriage of what the secondary role is – and I do not suggest anyone subscribe to what I practice. My relationship with PC has evolved into this but it did so because I was poly – I feel at ease loving them both – but I did not set out to do that with PC. I can be honest and say that I would prefer to have a secondary vs just fucking a number of other men, and my husband refers to PC as ‘my boyfriend’ so he too has an appreciation for what it is and that I found someone we both like, trust and has a basic understanding/respect for our Poly marriage.
I certainly feel a sense of obligation to PC in that I feel I have committed to him in a limited sense – but that is how I operate and I certainly do not expect that from him – there are certain things I would not do if it meant risking what I have with him: I would not take the course I have with him with someone else at this time. I feel a sense of fulfillment in my life and that is because of him and if that were to change I would communicate that with him.
Unfair: yes and no. First let me say that not everyone wants to cohabitate or get married and or have kids, there are many of different ways that it could benefit someone: they could still have an intimate relationship with someone that is already ‘married’ and does not have those goals in mind and keep their freedom. PC has found someone he enjoys spending time with but he is single and at liberty to pursue other relationships.
I believe that secondary relationships do have some legitimate needs that should be met– once it has gone beyond the purely physical there is a level of closeness that goes along with it and that needs to be nurtured. I do not think it is unfair for someone to want to spend time together, though that sort of thing is limited, and because it is not a big bad secret we are able to go out in public. I am certainly available emotionally but because the relationship’s foundation began as ‘secondary’ that is always how it proceeds.
Do they want more time with someone? Certainly! Doesn’t everyone want to spend time with the people they love? I do my best to compensate for physical distance through other means. I have always been Poly so I do not know any other way, and that means I am often mediating between two men and time – I have managed to find partners that get it so for me this negotiating is second nature. Time being anything from time spent talking to time spent together.
So each secondary relationship is different as are needs of a particular time and moment. In the past I have gone to weddings with my secondary, work functions and been the ‘girlfriend’ when meeting friends/family and for a lot of people it IS unfair to expect them to compartmentalize parts of their lives to suit mine so I do not presume this level of involvement with everyone I am with. Not all secondary’s want to go beyond the bedroom so they do still have control and get to determine their role.
I think it would be unfair if the secondary was not aware of the limits or if it became difficult to live with, I do not mislead anyone in regards to my husband’s role in this: it is why I like them to ‘know’ each other. I think it would be unfair for me to place demands on my secondary that I could not meet myself and I think it would be unfair to not allow myself to care for them or them to care for me. It would be unfair if the secondary felt as though they did not get a say in achieving their own happiness.
I think it is only as successful as everyone wants it to be and though lines can get blurry for some people in this case I feel it is on me to not let that happen, what I do is by no means easy, so I decided if a guy has potential to become a secondary. It takes a special sort and to me a secondary is not someone easily cast off or forgotten, they aren’t just sexual play things for me.
I do not write about the past often but the best example I have is this: WLD lived in the USA, I lived in Canada and my partner at the time was The Good Doctor (TGD). I had been with WLD for ten years when all was said and done, though he was married in the beginning and later was divorced. I was free to create my own place within his life and he in mine: all three of us accommodated each other.
I liked my role as his constant and he valued me; in fact I was his counsel on other relationships, family matters and business. He was later diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and because of the nature of our relationship I was able to spend more time with him because I had a partner that was a part of the dynamic and all that came along with that.
After a series of surgeries and as his illness progressed I was able to care for him in his home for a few months till it was clear that he would require more professional assistance and I encouraged him to move back into his house to be with his family: his kids were in their 20’s off at school, by no means tots but I have my opinions on the benefits of being around family before death. His ex-wife and he managed to agree to his living in the guest room. Once in the house I would not see him again.
I helped him unpack when he moved in to that apartment; after his divorce. I remember bringing him back these tacky little mirrors from Morocco and the hassle we went through to get him curtains to fit that bloody awkward window… it felt right that I be the one to help him move out though it was under most unfortunate circumstances. We spent his last Christmas together, we decorated the fake olive tree plant we had purchased in St Michael’s while on holiday one year and with one and half lung I did not see the need to deny him a cigar; we bundled him up and sat outside as it snowed blowing smoke into the air.
We joked that the [redacted] veterans would be some of the best dressed because WLD was such a clothing whore: we thought the image of a homeless man in a Dunhill suit to be a testament of his life. He told me how he always wanted to own a men’s shoppe and how he only became a [redacted] because that was what his father did, but he was good at it in fact the best.
My husband recently asked me if I was with him up until the end, and I feel I was – as best as I was able and I don’t think he ever held that against me. Every time I saw him he seemed to be so surprised that I was still there at all and when I couldn’t be I was in touch daily. Though WLD wished me to throw myself on his coffin in a fit of tears (his words, and a sick sense of humour till the end) he never made light of what we had. I know he loved me; he respected my other life, which was beyond him. He sent along a generous gift to TGD and called him, though they had their own private conversation, TGD was moved to tears when WLD thanked him for all the years TGD allowed me to love him. I am still thankful to TGD.
Out of respect for myself, WLD and to his children and ex-wife I did not force my presence in the hospital, I only visited when they were not there up until the last month he spent in a coma did I stop going but he didn’t die alone and I wouldn’t have let him die alone had it come to that.
I mourned him as anyone would when they love someone and TGD did so with me, he was most considerate and visited his burial plot with me when we were able. As hard as it was sometimes, my desire and inability to be with him towards the end, to care for him and to fix everything, it is nothing compared to the ten wonderful years I had with him. It was nothing compared to the ten years TGD and me had with him. I would not have changed a thing. I don’t think he would have either.
So was it unfair to WLD? It would have been unfair had I spent ten years allowing him to become a part of my life, telling him he mattered to me and letting him believe that I loved him to then deny him that truth in the end.