Are you thinking of becoming a secondary poly partner in an established relationship? If so, I don’t blame you for turning to Google to gain a little perspective on the whole thing.
When I was entering into my current relationship, I thought long and hard about it. I felt there was a lot to gain from taking a chance on my poly dream, but I knew there would be challenges too, so I made a pros-and-cons list. Now, after three years of accumulated wisdom, I’ve updated the list and posted it here in hopes that it might help you decide if being a secondary partner is what you really want.
Secondary Partner Advantages
More Time to Myself
I’m an introvert, so this is a big one for me. I live alone and my partner (who’s married) stays over one night a week. I spend time with my partner and metamour at their home on occasion. We have dinner together, and I even sleep there sometimes. What’s great is that the rest of the time, I get to do my own thing. It’s the best of both worlds!
More Freedom to Structure Life as I Choose
As a secondary partner, I’m not expected to fill a pre-determined role in my partner’s life. I never wanted to get married or have children, and I’ve always wanted to feel free to pursue all kinds of different relationships, each with their own degrees of emotional complexity. I don’t feel bound by social norms, and I feel great knowing that my partner and metamour have a rich home life that is way more demanding than what I would choose for myself.
Connections to Family Life
Even though I never wanted a family of my own, I feel very fortunate to be included in so many aspects of my partner’s home life. He and my metamour felt it was important to be up front about their lifestyle, so I met their kids early on. In the three years I’ve been a part of their lives, we’ve grown very close. I was even invited to accompany my partner and metamour as they drove their daughter off to university. I never imagined I would ever be a part of something like that!
Secondary Partner Disadvantages
Lower Social Standing
Even though I’ve integrated so fully into my partner’s life, I will never be considered a legitimate partner in the eyes of the law. I won’t have access to medical records if he gets sick. I won’t automatically receive sympathy and comfort the way that his wife will if something happens to him, and I won’t be permitted to grieve in public. I could but it would be about as tolerated as my presence at an extended family function. Only a few open-minded people would understand our love for one another. It all sounds very depressing, but it’s part of the poly package.
Depending on the situation, I could be introduced as a friend at most. My partner and I have an agreement that he be up front with close friends and family, but that with work colleagues or acquaintances, it’s his call. I met him near his work once and had to stand off to the side while someone asked him all about the wife and kids. I won’t lie. It didn’t feel great.
Not Being the Top Priority
This is another aspect of secondary life that sucks at times. If my partner’s wife or kids need him at home, he goes home! I’ve accepted that, but it’s absolutely something that takes getting used to, especially if you’ve only ever been in monogamous relationships. Keep in mind that your level of inclusion and the degree to which you’re considered egalitarian can all be negotiated. If your partner is married with kids, however, there are certain responsibilities at home that can’t be neglected.
What do you think? Is being a secondary partner something you would ever try? Share your thoughts in a comment.