January 11, 2011

Primary? Secondary?

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:54 pm by Kathleen

I’m still reading Love in Abundance by Kathy Labriola, and in chapter 2 she describes some different kinds of poly relationships, but something she doesn’t quite make clear, at least to me, is how fluid these relationships might be. I think knowing that is important for newbies, who might see a poly configuration they like, try it on, and feel that they are stuck with it forever.

For example, one configuration she mentions is the primary/secondary model, to which my husband and I subscribe. She puts the limitations of being a secondary a bit more rigidly than we would (describing them as basically having no say in anything, wereas we do/would try to include the input and feelings of our other partners into decisions).

Michael and I do diverge from the cookie cutter primary/secondary model in our attitudes, however. While all relationships must start off as secondary and are likely to remain that way, we are open to the idea of a partner eventually becoming a co-primary. This would be a long eventually, but it is not out of the question, and our primary/secondary model is thus not rigidly set.

I felt like her descriptions of primary/secondary relationships focused too much on casual relationships and casual sex, but perhaps that is a fixation of mine since I am not a huge fan of casual sex, myself. Still, she has done a great job so far of defining some of the most common models, even if she didn’t really say how much the lines between them can blur.



  1. I totally agree with you about fluidity in relationships. Initially I need the label of “primary” to feel secure but in reality relationships are constantly evolving. Assuming that needs are being met and respect is being shown, trying to stifle a relationship’s natural evolution is usually the result of fear.

    I think the adage – “If a good opportunity exists and a move is required a primary asks, ‘when do we go’, a secondary asks, ‘when can I visit’ and a tertiary says ‘ It was nice while it lasted” – is quite pertinent.

    • Kathleen said,

      I’ve never heard that adage, but I think I like it. Although, further dividing things into teriaries doesn’t “work” for me. Someone at that level would probably be a “fuck buddy” or something like that in my head.

    • Myrddwn said,

      I Like that quote as well. I don’t really use those labels, but they do work or understanding how different relationships can, and should, have different priorities.
      I’m not interested in having any Tertiaries as I’m not interested in fuck-buddies either. I want relationships. This is polyamory, not polyfuckery.

      • Kathleen said,

        Just because physical love (sex) alone is not how we choose to experience polyamory does not make it any less valid for others, though.

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