Question about being Secondary

lolacola

New member
I know that every relationship is different and personal but I would like some advice from people with more experience than myself. I'm in the process of deciding if I think I can date someone in an open relationship. They were upfront with me, on our first date that they were in a committed relationship but "felt their needs weren't being met" and they are apart for half of the year. They both decided to open up their relationship. It is a new experience for the person I have started seeing, in fact, they told me I was the first person they had hooked up with-but I believe a good part of that has to do with covid-19 times.

I am about seven years younger, in my mid twenties and they are in their thirties. I know to a certain extent, we are in very different places. They seemed to be in the process of kind of settling-steady career, looking to buy a house- I am not there at all. I am still getting my stuff together, to the point that when they asked me my thoughts around marriage and babies, I really couldn't answer-I know I want children, in the future-but I'm not there yet and don't want to be there yet and am not thinking about that seriously.

I think my question sort of surrounds, what should I expect in an emotional sense from dating them-I understand this is tricky and personal and depends on a lot of factors. But any kind of thoughts or direction would be really, really helpful.

Here is what I am wary about. I don't do well when relationships are solely about sex. I like having connection, support etc and the relationships I have that were built around sex fell apart and were a little toxic. I'm looking to avoid that.

I like the idea and need to have the space to focus on myself first. However, I am worried that if I enter into a relationship with someone in an open relationship, I will feel second or less than.

Again, I know this so depends on the individuals involved but I would appreciate any guidance or experiences that one could share. Maybe some questions to ask of myself or the person I'm seeing. The information online about what it is like to be the second person in an open relationship is practically non-existent which is why I'm posting here. Thank you in advance for the wisdom :)
 

SEASONEDpolyAgain

Active member
What jumps out at me is that they've started this because their "primary" relationship was effectively part time. If that changes and they move in together, what then? You'll find some people gravitate towards a more traditional monogamous relationship and you're cut out completely or, more commonly, they are even less available to you than they are now.

It's a better sign if the reasons for the open relationship are more... philosophical than logistic.
 

lolacola

New member
What jumps out at me is that they've started this because their "primary" relationship was effectively part time. If that changes and they move in together, what then? You'll find some people gravitate towards a more traditional monogamous relationship and you're cut out completely or, more commonly, they are even less available to you than they are now.

It's a better sign if the reasons for the open relationship are more... philosophical than logistic.
Thank you for your response, sorry to bug you further, they do live together for half of the year. I don't know if that really makes a difference in regards to your response.
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
I have experience being the GF of a married poly man and it was one of the most fulfilling relationships I've had. The reason it went so well was because they are on solid ground, with or without other partners. There is an enormous difference between two mature adults who agree to embrace polyamory and people who are looking to prop up a faltering commitment. When you are being used as a hole filler, you can feel it. When you are being cherished as an individual, you can feel it. What are your feelings telling you here?
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member
I know that every relationship is different and personal but I would like some advice from people with more experience than myself. I'm in the process of deciding if I think I can date someone in an open relationship. They were upfront with me, on our first date that they were in a committed relationship but "felt their needs weren't being met" and they are apart for half of the year. They both decided to open up their relationship. It is a new experience for the person I have started seeing, in fact, they told me I was the first person they had hooked up with-but I believe a good part of that has to do with covid-19 times.

I am about seven years younger, in my mid twenties and they are in their thirties. I know to a certain extent, we are in very different places. They seemed to be in the process of kind of settling-steady career, looking to buy a house- I am not there at all. I am still getting my stuff together, to the point that when they asked me my thoughts around marriage and babies, I really couldn't answer-I know I want children, in the future-but I'm not there yet and don't want to be there yet and am not thinking about that seriously.

I think my question sort of surrounds, what should I expect in an emotional sense from dating them-I understand this is tricky and personal and depends on a lot of factors. But any kind of thoughts or direction would be really, really helpful.

Here is what I am wary about. I don't do well when relationships are solely about sex. I like having connection, support etc and the relationships I have that were built around sex fell apart and were a little toxic. I'm looking to avoid that.

I like the idea and need to have the space to focus on myself first. However, I am worried that if I enter into a relationship with someone in an open relationship, I will feel second or less than.

Again, I know this so depends on the individuals involved but I would appreciate any guidance or experiences that one could share. Maybe some questions to ask of myself or the person I'm seeing. The information online about what it is like to be the second person in an open relationship is practically non-existent which is why I'm posting here. Thank you in advance for the wisdom :)
Actually, there is quite a lot of info for secondaries here:

 

Magickal

New member
Would you have to be alone for her half? Would he still call and be there for you and could you visit? That is a long time to be alone. Could you be nearby and still be with him sometimes?
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hello lolacola,

My observation on this forum has been, that it is more common for people trying an open relationship for the first time, to expect/assume that all additional relationships will consist just of casual sex. There's even an expectation that if feelings arise in a new additional relationship, that that relationship will be terminated. I'm not saying that's what's going to happen in your current relationship, I'm just saying it's very common and considering that you said that you don't do well when relationships are solely about sex, you might want to convey that to your new/prospective partner, and ask them to raise the topic with their current/committed partner and ask that partner if they would consent to emotional bonding with you. And be wary, that sometimes that partner will give consent, only to retract that consent when the rubber meets the road.

It's all a part of being new to open/poly. If you do date this person, you have to be aware that there's a risk involved, and you are taking that risk. It would be less of a risk if you were dating someone with quite a bit of experience in open/poly. People with more experience are more likely to be open to emotional involvement (e.g., falling in love with you). I know you have to work with what you have, I only mean to raise your awareness of that tendency. Honestly, there are some couples that not only accept emotional involvement, they insist on it, they do not want casual sex to be involved any more than you do. You just have to take stock of the situation you have, so that you know what to expect. And think about what you want, like maybe you don't want to be a secondary. Or maybe you do, maybe you don't want to be a primary. Things to consider.

Regards,
Kevin T.
 

tdh

New member
Hey Lolacola. I've been secondary in all 4 of my poly relationships. Personally I do not like hierarchical relationships definitions there were realities (marriage, kids, time together and distance) that kept it from being equal partnerships like I would like to have.

2 of those I was not he first poly relationship and they went well overall. One ended because distance failed me as we did well communicating but I felt physically disconnected. I lived in a small freezing town a the time with a little airport and a bad winter kept me from flying for 6 months! The other ended because of a hard boundary on my part but still friends with former partner.

In the other 2, I was the first poly relationship for the women. With those, I found the male partner to seem open at first even sometimes having partners themselves but would sometimes insecurely check in on our date times. I also found some details omitted about why the primary relationship was being opened that would have slowed my breaks. Since both women were at least Bi or Pan, think both male partners just assumed it would be women only they would date but they never stated that. Both relationships were both flash in the pans after the miscommunication in the primary relationships clearly came to light after a few months of dating.

Couples always want a united front and poly culture and books preach it. You want them to communicate and be clear so your relationship with the person/people in that group is clear. Also you need to be ask for the time you need to connect. Make sure you advocate clearly and see they hear you. If you are unsure, slow down the new relationship energy a little and just dip your toes. It is so exciting early in meeting someone you can easily miss advocating your needs or a red flag for the partners or yourself (yes we all have our own red flags which will bite us in the ass later). It is easy to think of yourself as secondary to let things slide you would not normally do dating or in a relationship. DON'T! The relationship should be treated (IMO) with the same respect as you might expect from a non partnered person especially if you clearly agreed to dedicated bonding time.

Think it is a great step you came here and reached out. There is also ethical non-monogamous/poly friendly therapists or support groups in most large cities these days and that can help you work through what you are considering via internet. Hope this is helpful
 
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