Primary Relationship or Nothing?

opalescent

Active member
I've been struggling with this very ingrained idea that if I do not have a primary type partner, then I am a failure in a big part of life. Primary type relationship for me does not necessarily mean living together, or mingling finances but it does mean that we organize our lives together significantly, make each other a major priority.

I intellectually know this is not actually true. I have a very good life. I am both lucky and privileged. When the US government is not being run by morons, I like my job. I am so very lucky in my family and friends. I have awesome pets who I adore, TinyDog and TinyCat. The developing connection with Midwest is something else I am so grateful for. My metamour friendship with Chicago is a blessing. I get to see my friends children grow right before my eyes. That is incredibly special. I am very lucky.

But being grateful is not resetting my thoughts and feelings about not having a primary partnership at all.

I cannot get away from feeling that there is something wrong with me in that I don't have a primary partner. It doesn't help that just about all of my friends are partnered up. I'm so glad my friends have loved ones. But it does wear to be the only single person in the crowd.

I don't feel like relationship anarchy is for me. I'm not into hierarchy either but RA just doesn't appeal to me.

So any ideas beyond adopting RA or being grateful to adjust my thinking would be really welcome. My thoughts are definitely making me miserable and I cannot seem to get out of this thought spiral.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi opal,

It sounds like you need to either find a primary partner, or, accept yourself as a solo poly. There is nothing wrong with being a solo poly, but maybe that is not your preferred way of going? On the other hand, it isn't like you can just wave a magic wand and make a primary partner appear. Finding a primary partner is a slow and uncertain process, it requires time and luck. Not everyone finds a primary partner! and that doesn't mean that they're a bad person. This you know. But how do you convince your heart?

The thing you have to struggle with is that you don't have a primary partner *right now.* You might have one in the future, but that doesn't solve your problem *now.* A primary partner isn't going to appear right this instant. Therefore, you need to figure out how to be okay with being solo poly right now. How do you do that? Perhaps you compose a statement of self affirmation, and repeat that statement to yourself whenever you're feeling bad. Something like, "I am a good person, I am not a failure, right now I am solo poly and that is okay." You might not believe it the first time you say it to yourself, but after hearing yourself say it many, many times, you might start feeling more optimistic. This is just one idea, I'm sure others can think of other ideas.

How do you feel when you think about being solo poly? Where do you feel it in your body? Sometimes sitting down and being present with a feeling helps. "Hmmm, I notice I'm feeling this way again. Interesting." Take note of what that feels like, don't try to chase it away, just be present with it. Sometimes a feeling just wants to be recognized, does that make sense? You do want to feel better, of course. Maybe recognizing the feeling, in concert with a statement of affirmation, will help you feel better? We can only hope.

Regards,
Kevin T.
 

vinsanity0

Active member
Why does it sound like you have taken having a primary off the table? Because you haven't found anyone suitable yet? That makes them the failure, no? You certainly don't want to settle for someone just to have a primary.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I've been struggling with this very ingrained idea that if I do not have a primary type partner, then I am a failure in a big part of life.

I intellectually know this is not actually true. I have a very good life.

But being grateful is not resetting my thoughts and feelings about not having a primary partnership at all.

It sounds like you know what you have to do -- reset your thoughts so the feelings that ensue are not those of "failure."

You also probably don't want to accept just anyone off the street to fill the primary spot just to fill it. If they don't actually meet your personal standards, why have them as a life companion?

It's ok to have something else be your primary concern - you could be your own primary, your work could be your primary priority, education, etc.

Making different life choices doesn't mean you "failed" at life. You may have to say things like that to yourself. Like "talk back" to the inner critic voice who says you have failed.

You answer back with stuff like...

"1)Will keep dating, but not gonna take whoever off the street

2) Making different choice than my friends and family is not failing at MY life. I get to author MY life. "

Maybe that could help?

Galagirl
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
My thoughts are definitely making me miserable and I cannot seem to get out of this thought spiral.

That's because your thoughts are zeroed in on what you do not have. Your post is all about what is missing and how you compare yourself to others and what is not working. Write out what you do want. Start by repositioning your sights onto what feels lovely to imagine for your life.
 

opalescent

Active member
Hi opal,

It sounds like you need to either find a primary partner, or, accept yourself as a solo poly. There is nothing wrong with being a solo poly, but maybe that is not your preferred way of going? On the other hand, it isn't like you can just wave a magic wand and make a primary partner appear. Finding a primary partner is a slow and uncertain process, it requires time and luck. Not everyone finds a primary partner! and that doesn't mean that they're a bad person. This you know. But how do you convince your heart?

The thing you have to struggle with is that you don't have a primary partner *right now.* You might have one in the future, but that doesn't solve your problem *now.* A primary partner isn't going to appear right this instant. Therefore, you need to figure out how to be okay with being solo poly right now. How do you do that? Perhaps you compose a statement of self affirmation, and repeat that statement to yourself whenever you're feeling bad. Something like, "I am a good person, I am not a failure, right now I am solo poly and that is okay." You might not believe it the first time you say it to yourself, but after hearing yourself say it many, many times, you might start feeling more optimistic. This is just one idea, I'm sure others can think of other ideas.

How do you feel when you think about being solo poly? Where do you feel it in your body? Sometimes sitting down and being present with a feeling helps. "Hmmm, I notice I'm feeling this way again. Interesting." Take note of what that feels like, don't try to chase it away, just be present with it. Sometimes a feeling just wants to be recognized, does that make sense? You do want to feel better, of course. Maybe recognizing the feeling, in concert with a statement of affirmation, will help you feel better? We can only hope.

Regards,
Kevin T.

I feel like I am always feeling this lack. But really I haven't sat with it in non-judging way, just experiencing it. I will try that. I also haven't tried affirmations before. I tend to discount them personally although I know they work for many people. However, I think the time has come to try them. Thank you!

I also feel that I would feel better if solo poly was something I chose instead of where I feel it is more my current circumstances than a conscious decision on my part. It is true that I don't need to move in with someone or mingle finances or do other relationship type escalator type things. But to me that's different than embracing solo poly. I will mull over this, see if anything shifts for me.
 

opalescent

Active member
Why does it sound like you have taken having a primary off the table? Because you haven't found anyone suitable yet? That makes them the failure, no? You certainly don't want to settle for someone just to have a primary.

I am deeply discouraged, I have to admit. But I haven't taken it off as a possibility. It just feels unlikely at this point. I know that reflects my feelings about it rather than an objective reality. I could meet someone tomorrow. I know relationships develop in very unexpected ways with unexpected people. Midwest was very much a surprise.

While I have settled for less than optimum people (Oak and Willow mostly) I hope I've learned my lesson about trying to force round pegs into square holes. Otherwise I don't lack standards. I just meet very few people who strike me as possibly primaries. Or perhaps that is just my own subjective filters.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
It sounds like maybe I was able to help a little, I am glad to hear that. Let us know whether you do get feeling a bit better.
 

Tinwen

Active member
I feel like I am always feeling this lack. But really I haven't sat with it in non-judging way, just experiencing it. I will try that. I also haven't tried affirmations before.
If non of that works well enough, you could also try Byron Katie's method called "The Work". Basically, you write down a thought that's causing you pain, and then you contemplate four questions
Is it true?
(If the answer is Yes: ) Can I really know it is true?
How do I react, when I think this thought?
Who would I be without this thought?

It's the best method to question limiting beliefs I know. If applied on the root thoughts that make you suffer, you'll get a shift in perspective. It's hard, so I don't practice it consistently, but I've had some results.
You can google the details, or watch how she guides people on Youtube.
 

vinsanity0

Active member
I am deeply discouraged, I have to admit. But I haven't taken it off as a possibility. It just feels unlikely at this point. I know that reflects my feelings about it rather than an objective reality. I could meet someone tomorrow. I know relationships develop in very unexpected ways with unexpected people. Midwest was very much a surprise.

While I have settled for less than optimum people (Oak and Willow mostly) I hope I've learned my lesson about trying to force round pegs into square holes. Otherwise I don't lack standards. I just meet very few people who strike me as possibly primaries. Or perhaps that is just my own subjective filters.

I do know how you feel. I am at the point where I'm not even sure I want a primary.
 

MayDecember

New member
...While I have settled for less than optimum people...

Me too. Before.

Relationship coaches say to make lists of what you want in people, and what are deal-breakers.

Once I made my lists, I saw no-one for two years and marshalled resources.

Boy is my life better than when I just fell into relationships.

It seems to me that you have crossed off the list what mostly defines "primary". Traditionally, that meant living together, mixing finances, and having kids.

So if you write those off then how is it that people make each other a major priority?
 

Photosynthesis

New member
So if you write those off then how is it that people make each other a major priority?

I can't speak for the OP, but for me, it would be something like -
The person you call if you've just been in a car accident. The first person you tell when you get that job offer. The person who feels this way about you too.
 

Vicki82

Active member
I can't speak for the OP, but for me, it would be something like -
The person you call if you've just been in a car accident. The first person you tell when you get that job offer. The person who feels this way about you too.

That doesn't make primary to me, personally. I have several very close friends who would fit into that category.

I have to say that life entwinement = primary for me, too.
 

opalescent

Active member
Primary-ness

I don't think of being in a primary relationship as necessarily being entwined in various ways. It means that to a lot of people but it does not work for me.

I think of it as more the person (or persons) that I arrange my life around, and they do the same around me. I visualize it as more of a constellation of stars orbiting each other, interacting and being a system.

And how that looks varies. I'm not ruling out living with someone ever again but it would take a lot for me to take that step again. I'd consider sharing finances to some degree but after getting mildly dinged on my credit because of links to my ex-wife's credit, I'm hesitant to dive into that again. And I'm sure I do not want to be a parent. I love other people's children more than I ever thought possible but I'm good being the wacky aunt, not the exhausted mom. None of those things - finances, cohabitation, children - are needed in a primary relationship. They are common markers but they do not define the thing itself, as far as I'm concerned.

Partly how I think of primary-ness is that I make them a high priority and they do the same. I am currently not a priority for anyone (except for my parents). My friends have spouses and/or children that come first. Other friends have work commitments that they prioritize. None of this is bad. But for me, being a primary means being on someone's list of top priorities.
 

SEASONEDpolyAgain

Active member
I think the reality for most is that life is a constant stream of changing priorities. People often say "my kids always come first" when actually, they (rightly) don't. We'd put the collapsed stranger in the street above our plan to take our kid to the park. You'd cancel on your kid (at least occasionally) for a work emergency. I don't think primary immediately equates to highest priority.

What can happen with polyamory is that there are more people competing for priority. Intentionally or otherwise. Having a partner who fewer partners is one way to be a priority more of the time.
 
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