That's a big chunk of our time. And with being poly already requiring a certain amount of time-management, it gets silly. Now that we both have other partners, we realised we either have to give up some of our evenings together to fit in other dates *and* household errands (not to mention that both of us actually require alone time to recharge), or come to a better arrangement.
So, we move in together. This raises all sorts of questions about whether he will be, or actually already is, my "primary".
I dislike the terms "primary" and "secondary". I dislike the idea of hierarchical relationships. And I know, both philosophically and because I've lived through it, that relationships are prone to change.
Sometimes small change - patterns and habits developed over years are disrupted for many reasons. For example, a partner who once worked from home and was always available may get an office job and the dynamic changes. Emotionally, relationships ebb and wane to some degree. We go through periods of wanting to be together every free moment, and periods of being quite content to see one another a couple of times a week (still loving one another, just having other things we're concentrating on, and secure in the knowledge that this ebb and wane is natural and will ebb, or wane, again).
And big change happens. When #1 and I got together, I lived with my husband and children and we believed (#1 and I) that we would never live together, probably never even be able to go away on holiday as a couple. Sometimes people have to move for work, or switch from flexi-hours to working long hours that make them tired and unavailable for long periods.
Are we supposed, in times like that, to hold "secondary" partners at arms length? Are we supposed, during a waning period in one relationship, to artificially induce or hold back an ebb in another relationship so as to give one the "upper hand"? It's silly.
That said, Boyfriend #2 and I have been discussing this. We like to talk semantics. He's rather opinionated on the use of inappropriately generalised or unusefully specific terms, and both of us feel it hampers much of the material available for poly support. Yet there aren't 'better' ways to describe things, at this point. Which doesn't mean that terms like 'primary' and 'secondary' should remain in use. Merely that we need to work harder to describe the differences in relationships that occur in the poly lifestyle. And, because of course every relationship, and every set of relationships, will have its own quirks, restrictions, experiences, that's a pretty hard task.
So, here are some questions I'll be exploring over the coming while:
- Can we really say "I love you all equally"? Does it make sense in the context of length of relationship, time spent together, and that quality of familiarity and comfort that comes from the combination of the above?
- How do we describe the difference between a relationship that is still growing and evolving rapidly (as happens in the first year or two, say) and a relationship that is long-standing and stable, without reverting to hierarchic terminology?
- How do we describe the difference between the relationship I have with the partner with whom I share my most private space (a master bedroom) and the partner with whom I spend a lot of time, including some nights of the week, but with whom I do not officially share that private space?
- How do we describe the difference between either of those two and the relationship I have with the partner who is also a major part of my family but who lives elsewhere with another partner with whom she shares her most private space?
- How do we decide, whether we are in or out of the poly closet (though in the case of out it's slightly easier), which of those partners attends work and family functions?
- How do we ascertain, or examine, the difference in quality of time spent with partners who have official 'date nights' and the partner with whom we share the day-to-day comforts of a long-term live-in relationship? How do we value both?
- How do we make decisions, if we want to make a family, about who should be included in the living arrangements and how they are included?
- How do our partners' other partners, existing and possible future, fit into these arrangements?
- And, so very much not least, is it extremely important to work all this stuff out? And if we even work it out to some degree, isn't it likely to evolve, just as our relationships evolve?
Next in my current blogging spree: Girlfriend #1-and-only and the year of making it happen.